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Fashion in South East Asia in the post-Coronavirus Era

By Guest Contributor


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This month’s Fashion podcast series by Euromonitor International explores how coronavirus is impacting fashion consumers in South East Asia and what this means for the industry in the post-pandemic era.

Considering fashion’s highly discretionary nature, it is not surprising that it is one of the most negatively impacted FMCG industries globally. All categories within apparel and footwear, eyewear and personal accessories are all down 15-20% in 2020 vs. last year. Within South-East Asia, countries including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are most impacted, however, there are certain sweet spots too. Childrenswear is more insulated to downturn particularly driven by infant wear as kids quickly outgrow their clothing and parents learn to replenish their wardrobes.

The current stay-at-home preference is also leading to increasing loungewear sales as consumers demand comfort by buying pyjamas, sleep shirts, t-shirt dresses, robes and slippers. Certain brands launched new collections targeted to the new normal for both leisure and work activities in and around the home. Regional brand The Editors Market launched its homewear campaign and collection titled ‘Comfort In Creation’ featuring comfortable yet stylish pieces suitable for work-from-home days.

Lastly, within the eyewear category references such as contact lenses and spectacle lenses have suffered to a lesser extent from the impact of the pandemic. Their essential nature and ease of replenishment through the e-commerce channel have certainly played in their favour. In contrast, non-essential sunglasses are expected to suffer the most due to higher than average unit price and seasonality that further diminish consumer demand.

However, despite the sudden decline, we expect a steady recovery with most industries to recover from 2021 in all South-East Asian markets expect Thailand, which we believe will take longer to recover owned to the country’s pre-COVID vulnerabilities and heavy economic reliance on tourism. In this instance, the value sales lost due to the pandemic may only be recouped by 2023. COVID-19 has brought about a clear shift from more formal styles as consumers and retailers alike are prioritising comfort.

Athleisure which was a strong performing trend pre-COVID is only going to accelerate further in the post-COVID world, due to consumers living a more active lifestyle during the lockdown. Moreover, collaborations are going to be a shoutout word as COVID-19 has unanimously united the world like never before. There is a huge sense of solidarity that we are in it together. Additionally, the digitalisation of in-store experiences will be key. Anxiety around handling products will buoy AR, VR and other immersive technologies, which will add and enhance the experiential element of physical retail. The pandemic will prove to be a catalyst to trickle down 3D body scanning, RFID enabled connected fitting rooms, virtual try-on mirrors and other fashion retail tech from luxury to high-street and fat fashion.

Brand for purpose will stand out as ethical and environmental credentials gain ground as a great source of innovation and storytelling. Sustainability led initiatives will help build a positive brand image that will certainly travel down the consumers’ memory lane in years to come.

Written and created for FashionUnited by Euromonitor. Explore more fashion related podcasts by Euromonitor here.

Image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

leasure wear
post covid 19
south east asia
work from home