We stay home and respect social distancing, continue to follow dawn and dusk, and try to establish a routine that consists of housework, work, immerse in self-inquiry and reflection. We make use of our undefined time, perceive this period as an incubation rather than a quarantine and reach out to the cluttered drawers of our wardrobes, tidy the kitchen shelves and experience the dusted emotions, the storm of feelings emerge one after another as we become in sync with what is going on. It is mostly our own inner voice that speaks to us only louder than before. We cannot shrug that voice off, dim it by turning the TV on and the voice gets clearer each passing day as we sit and look out from the window, to see nature minding its own business. The voice is a collective effort of our past, a companion to make us realize the naked truth of our individualities, communities as well as our global citizen identities. Our relationship to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our work, take shape as we walk through an unknown territory. We begin to accept alternative perceptions. The Netflix movie Platform`s (El Hoyo) underlying proposition of “spontaneous sense of solidarity” and the small scale of a capitalist system where the ruling class determines the conduct of life and tests the public without even following the very rules they have set is like a fist on our face. Life unfolds with movies, books, social media news, Instagram feeds.
I do not know what to make of it all yet, but I am changing or maybe even simply seeing more of myself and the world as days drift by. Being privileged to be home and healthy is like a shameful burden as well as a delightful blessing and I am filled with profound emotions to express both conditions. I stay as a human “being”. I start to see the very values that I would like to attain, reward and stay loyal to and there is transparency in personal and business relations more than ever. We are seeing leaderships unfold, the possibility of guiding masses based on values and priorities. We are seeing heroes emerge, people we took granted for becoming our “Incredibles” as they work shifts at the hospitals, delivering groceries, going out every day because they have to earn a living or because they took an oath. We are also seeing brands in action, not greenwashing and marketing only by producing masks but remaining loyal to their supply chain, honoring their contracts, collaborating for solutions, going back to their vision and mission statements and practicing what they have preached because that is exactly how they will be remembered. I have been attending “sustainability” seminars, platforms and working with accreditation authorities of sustainability, foundations concerned with ethical labor for the past 2 decades. Now is the time for the compliance to be put in reverse action – brands in the fashion industry will need to be in compliance and be held responsible for their approaches and the accreditation authorities need to step forward to help.
Kate Raworth`s “Doughnut Economy” proposal focuses on true cost and true value and remains to be not only enhancing resilience but also sets operational and managerial priorities to sustain a business while taking the social and environmental impacts into consideration. We are all understanding that systems, businesses which do not have the sustainable muscle become the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Fashion has been reprimanded of causing damage to the environment (and very rightly so) and we had started to see more brands on board the race to claim their sustainable goals for 2025 or 2030 claiming to use environmentally friendly raw materials, addressing transparency of their supply chain and taking more of a stakeholder first approach. Today the fashion industry is hit hard not by the dreaded climate crisis but the pandemic which has caused an imminent decline in consumption. This is the time to have some muscle practice. We will need further discussions on the impact, the damage control, the recovery plan but that all needs to come later. The fashion industry employs 75million people and the manufacturing facilities are mainly based in developing countries where wages mean a matter of life as they simply provide food for the table. It is the perfect time for the brands to walk their talk and act responsibly and fulfill the payments for the already shipped goods and also remain open to negotiate for the contracts they are refraining to respect.
McKinsey`s 2020 Fashion Coronavirus update online report signals an average of %30 decline in consumption and spells out the need for the players to decisive and start putting recovery strategies into motion – and I will add the urgency to practice the brands ethical claims which will be acknowledged not only by the stakeholders but also by the consumers. According to the update report 5 main themes will set the agenda once the dust settles.
Survival Instincts to stabilize the core business before seeking out new opportunities
Discount Mindset will be a challenge to handle and brands will need to find inventive ways to regain value and rethink their broader business mission.
Digital Escalation – a no brainer as brands must act fast to deliver.
Darwinian Shakeout – To secure their future, companies will need to adapt to new market environment and evaluate divestment and acquisition opportunities to keep their core.
Innovation Imperative- companies will need new tools and strategies across the value chain for future-proof their business models.
The post pandemic state of business will only be built together with all the stakeholders in action and if we have not realized how interconnected we are today and attain a holistic approach, addressing the problems and developing solutions for the weakest loop in the value chain, we will not be able to commit to our collective future.
As we sit in silence in the world, it unfolds that the world is in us.