April 2, 2020

Every month Embodee summarizes and analyzes key developments and trends in the apparel and footwear industries, including the latest news about online product customization and personalization technology. Our goal: help you stay informed, save time, and sell more! Sign up to stay in the know. Unsubscribe anytime. 
Brands, retailers step up to help besieged healthcare workers
Crocs is donating 10,000 pairs of clogs daily to medical workers and 100,000 to institutions

As the COVID-19 epidemic intensifies, a Who’s Who list of global fashion and beauty brands has sprung into action. Some are making hand sanitizing gels and millions of masks and hospital gowns to replenish severely depleted supplies. Fashionista says Prada, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent plan to manufacture masks. Besides masks, Zara is making hospital gowns. LVMH and Kering are buying millions of masks for healthcare workers. Brands known for perfumes and cosmetics — LVMH, L'Oréal, and Estée Lauder — are retooling to boost stocks of sanitizing gels. 
Latest update: More companies are rapidly joining the effort, including many smaller brands and retailers. Fashionista is updating a fast-growing list daily. Meanwhile, Fast Company reports that Crocs is donating clogs to healthcare workers —10,000 pairs a day via its website. Crocs is also sending 100,000 pairs to U.S. healthcare institutions. Allbirds gave away 5,000 of its best-known style, Wool Runners, in four days.

Nike successful so far in dealing with pandemic’s challenges

In China, Japan, and South Korea, Nike has learned many lessons in dealing with the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges. In the quarter ending Feb. 29, Nike reported a 4% revenue drop there despite halted or curtailed operations at 75% of its company and partner-owned stores. But online sales increased 30%. Now stores in the region are reopening, and shoppers are returning as COVID-19 cases have sharply declined. Nike is better positioned than most companies, thanks to a robust omnichannel focus and rich digital marketing connections to consumers. CEO John Donahoe said the company's strategy is organized around four phases of COVID-19. The first and most daunting, containment, is now underway in the U.S. as cases rapidly mount. FN has more details. Company officials have also pledged $15 million to help combat the disease.

Big discounts unlikely to entice shoppers amid pandemic fears

Email inboxes brim with generous discount offers for apparel and footwear typical of the holiday shopping season. But consumers, many cloistered at home and worried about the coronavirus and their jobs, have prioritized spending on essentials like food rather than on what they wear. Are 25% to 60% price reductions and free shipping and returns enough to entice them to open their wallets on a new outfit for Spring? Analysts are skeptical. In normal times, most purchases happen in physical stores. Online channels can’t make up the difference. “I think retailers are just doing whatever they can to keep the business moving,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC. “Pricing discipline has just been thrown out the window.”

Pandemic spurs fashion design schools to look harder at digitization

The centuries-old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” will become a recurring theme in our virus-compromised world. It’s happening among fashion design schools. They’re scrambling to teach remotely, but it’s more difficult because fashion curriculums tend to be taught hands-on in studios and workshops. Some academics already see the hardships as an impetus to change old teaching methods in line with an increasingly digitized fashion industry. "Craft-based artisanal fashion will [continue to] exist, but the tsunami of digitization is coming towards us, and the industry will soon demand re-skilling in fashion education," said Leslie Holden, head of postgraduate studies at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). Fashionista has more.

Customized high-fashion expected among young affluent Chinese

China is emerging as the biggest potential opportunity for made-to-order high fashion. That’s the conclusion of Jing Daily, which has a deep-dive look at factors driving the trend. They include the desire of millennials and Gen-Z consumers to wear customized haute couture to stand out from the crowd. In fact, according to a recent McKinsey report, customization features are an expectation of young luxury consumers and no longer a nice-to-have option. “Customization within the brand is increasingly valued by high-net-worth individuals, which are luxury goods’ core customers,” said Dr. Zhou Ting, head of research at Shanghai-based Yaok Institute. A technological challenge remains: supply chains that haven’t yet digitized to change how product demand and inventories are managed. 

Embodee protects its employees, ensures uninterrupted operations

Embodee is doing its share to protect our employees and their communities from the pandemic and to help slow its spread. On March 6, we closed our offices worldwide and had our employees begin working from home. Company operations remain uninterrupted. For healthcare personnel and others working to help people who are ill, we send our best wishes.

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