COVID- 19 has impacted the world in ways unimaginable, and has been responsible for bringing about significant changes in the way businesses operate, all across the globe. Like several other industries, businesses operating in the niche of retail fashion, have suffered a major setback. However, as the sector is slowly trying to get back on its feet, a major shift in its way of working is already being projected by the industry experts. It is believed that in the new normal, the sector is likely to seek and implement more sustainable business models, in order to help the businesses sustain themselves by staying relevant in the ever-transforming retail landscape. Accordingly, the earlier trends of fast and linear fashion models are likely to get replaced by a more feasible circular business model.

An Overview Of Circular Business Model

In the simplest terms, a circular business model can be defined as the operating strategy adopted by a business where the focus is on minimizing wastage through constant redesigning and restructuring. Technically, it is defined as the ability of an organization to create, offer, and deliver value to its broader range of stakeholders, while keeping the ecological and social costs to a minimum. This business model retains products and materials in use, for as long as possible, in order to derive the maximum benefit from them. It aims to reshape the business and economic systems to intentionally discard all what’s not required. With respect to the retail fashion sector, adopting a circular business model means preventing fashion from being disposable.

Drawbacks Of Popular Business Models

In order to successfully implement the circular business model in the world of retail fashion, it is important to create awareness about its need at grass root levels, which in this case would stem out of the best fashion designing institutes in India. The students enrolled in these institutes need to understand that fast and linear fashion – the two most popular business models used in this industry are highly damaging, not only to the business but also to the environment as well. This damage is a result of reducing the lifecycle of fashion clothing by accelerating through production, purchase, and untimely disposal.

This is because both these models focus on high production rates with low labor costs, along with vouching for productivity in a short period of time –  something that’s achieved with the use of non-recyclable materials. Moreover, these models do not pay much attention to ‘wash tests’ and ‘wearer trials’ in order to maintain the rapid pace of production of clothes. This, in turn, impacts the quality of the clothes produced and promotes the trend of wear once and discard. The trend is further enhanced by the constant availability of new stocks, that various fashion brands introduce from time-to-time.

Need For Implementing Circular Model

Keeping the above factors in mind, it would be wise to state that both fast and linear fashion business models contribute significantly to environmental damage. In addition to generating considerable clothing waste, these models also increase the volume of pollutants released during the production process, delivery, and transportation. Adopting a circular business model can help retail fashion businesses to minimize the aforementioned wastage and pollution in a significant manner. Making this shift will not only prove beneficial for the environment but will also help retail businesses to grow by staying relevant to the changing fashion trends. With the changing perceptions about retail fashion and the growing demand for sustainability, the circular business model is expected to provide just the right solution, benefitting all the right causes.

Making The Switch – Some Tips For Fashion Retailers

The process of shifting from one business model to another is always somewhat complicated. That is why it needs to be carried out in a manner that creates minimal disruption within the workplace processes and is implemented in a smooth and gradual fashion. That is why the top experts from the leading fashion designing colleges in Gurgaon consider this to be the right time for fashion retailers to make the shift to the circular model. This expectation is synonymous with the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has brought the retail fashion industry to a near standstill. With the production hitting its lowest and the market-demand being reduced to a bare minimum, businesses dealing in retail fashion can use the ‘New Normal’ to revamp their sustainability plans and implement the circular model. However, before making the switch, it is advisable for businesses to consider the idea while keeping the following tips in mind:

  • With the lag created within the fashion industry during the ongoing pandemic, adopting a resale strategy is the best way to initiate the circular model.
  • It is important for fashion retailers to push for sustainable practices in sourcing, supply chains, and production, in order to match the changed customer behaviors and expectations.
  • Given the large scale global impact of the COVID-19 crisis, it might become important for fashion retailers to support local economies and thereby, procuring goods from local suppliers shall help strengthen the circular business model.
  • Most importantly, the industry should treat this crisis as an opportunity to start all over again with a clean slate.

Will fashion retailers seize this opportunity by bringing a circular business model in vogue? Only time will tell.