In response to the industry halt amid COVID-19, local retailers have to make heartbreaking calls to keep the lights on. Some brands are taking the conversation online and pleading with their social media following to support local, whether it be through purchasing gift cards, e-commerce sales (if that's even possible), or through content to keep customers engaged online and their brand top of mind.
With revenue plummeting, brands and suppliers have to protect profits, and that may mean that sustainability might have to take a back seat for now. However, when eco-conscious fashion is your brand, how can you put the practice on the back-burner?
Some experts seem to be hopeful about the state of sustainable consumption. Brands could re-emerge after the pandemic with a blank slate, allowing for some directional change. Vogue Business' Rachel Cernansky quotes Tyton president and co-founder Peter Majeranowski, "We are at the very beginning of a major test to see if sustainability is as central an issue as many brands and groups claim...This global pause on everything may make the brands [that are doubling down on sustainability] even more desirable for people."
Erica Carranza, vice president of consumer psychology at market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, recently expressed to Forbes' Pamela N. Danzinger how the uncertainty amid COVID-19 is a short-term barrier to discretionary shopping. She stated, "Longer term, it may predispose people to make choices that are based on their underlying sense of identity. So, for example, people may be more likely to choose environmentally-conscious brands in the future, a trend that we already see in the culture."
This statement makes me reflect on the conversations currently underway on social media, our human conductor at this time. As fast-fashion retailers are calling upon your loyalty, use your dollar to vote for the longevity of local, sustainable retailers. I, too, am cutting back on spending and saying goodbye for now to some fashion rental subscriptions, but I also understand that some local retailers are counting on my patronage to support their livelihood. Your money is deeply personal, but I invite you to entertain the idea of shifting your focus on the notion of buying and sourcing products locally.
The same goes to local, sustainable businesses, take this moment to embed your brand into your community's fabric. How are you empathic to your city's pain? Are you providing helpful resources online? Are you checking in with loyal customers to see how they're doing? Loyalty is a two-way street, and if your brand's purpose is centered around uplifting the community, then now's the time to prove it.
So take the time to clean out your closet during self-isolation, Marie Kondo your dressers, and be grateful for your health and family. Then beam that intention on strengthening the resources in our home community-- if you have the means to help, drive sustainability forward.