State of Fashion 2022: An uneven recovery and new frontiers

By the Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company
15/03/22

In 2022, the fashion industry can return to growth as changing category landscapes, new digital frontiers, and advances in sustainability continue to present opportunities.

After nearly two years of disruption, the global fashion industry is once again finding its feet. Companies are adapting to new consumer priorities, and digital is providing a nexus for growth. Still, the industry faces significant challenges amid supply-chain disruption, patchy demand, and persistent pressure on the bottom line. With the majority of companies struggling to turn a profit, growth will be a key priority in the year ahead.

The coronavirus also presents the fashion industry with a chance to reset and reshape the industry’s value chain completely—and an opportunity to reassess the values by which it measures actions. We expect that themes of digital acceleration, discounting, industry consolidation, and corporate innovation will be prioritized once the immediate crisis subsides. Even after witnessing waves of insolvencies, industry leaders will need to get comfortable with uncertainty and ramp up future-proofing efforts as the potential for further outbreaks and lockdowns loom.

This will also be a time for collaboration within the industry—even among competing organizations. No company will get through the pandemic alone, and fashion players need to share data, strategies, and insights on how to navigate the storm. Brands, suppliers, contractors, and property owners should also find ways to share the burden.

This joint report by the Business of Fashion and McKinsey is an effort to advance the discussion beyond crisis management and immediate contingency planning by outlining the areas in which the fashion industry must focus once the dust settles on the current crisis. Exactly when this will happen is impossible to know for sure, except that it will, in all likelihood, be linked to the discovery of a workable antiviral treatment and delivery of a proven vaccine, which some experts say is at least 12 to 18 months away.

Navigating this uncertainty will not be easy for fashion leaders. Players need to be decisive and start putting recovery strategies into motion to emerge with renewed energy. The crisis is a catalyst that will shock the industry into change—now is the time to get ready for a post-coronavirus world.