The Covid-19 has brought a lot of challenges to the industry but is also opening important opportunities for Peruvian apparel products & services. Today, 51% of consumers claim to be spending less in apparel and 74% say they are working from home (at least part of the time), but sales of Homewear (i.e. pijamas, joggers, leggings & basic tops) are up +50% vs. 2019.
On this “new normal”, consumers want more comfort, responsibility and durability (e.g. “wash resistant”). More time at home means consumers can use similar (more basic) clothes all year around – because, at least in the US, homes have Heating & Air Conditioning. The latter is evidenced by Energy consumption growing 2.9% vs. YA vs. 1.5% CAGR in previous 5 years. This means more opportunity for basic, higher quality garments, where Peru excels and is globally recognized for. In this sense, Peru is widely recognized for its high quality Pima cotton, but we also work with other natural fibers (like Alpaca, organic and native cottons), and manmade fibers like polyester, nylon and acrylic (where we have one of the two acrylic fiber plants in America).
Another fact of the pandemic is that Seasons have been interrupted; in some cases due to supply issues (due to lockdowns) and in others due to lack of demand (e.g. some fast fashion collections). On the other hand, an opportunity for event-based collections has appeared – like the recent “VOTE” campaign in the US or Christmas pijamas. The catch on these opportunities is that suppliers need to be FAST to react.
According to Danielle Bruggeman “there’s a shift from EGO (appearances) to ECO (responsibility)”. Before the pandemic, bodies & identities were dressed according to fashion (always wanting the newer / better); many to impress others. Today, many social protocols are being destroyed; e.g. haircuts, shaving, suits / ties, etc. People are feeling more comfortable being themselves and are now just answering to their bodies; e.g. more comfortable, simpler (no pockets / zippers) and durable clothes. This posts a great opportunity for Peru because of the higher quality of our fabrics and, with less sewing minutes per garment, we can be very competitive.
The pandemic has also made consumers more aware of themselves and the environment, and many are looking for: Wellness (more conscious about their health and our Planet), Simplicity, Transparency & Connectivity. In the “new normal” those who adapt faster will be the winners in the future… and Peruvian apparel factories are already transforming and adapting to better serve these new needs – specially for the US market with whom we have an FTA (Free Trade Agreement).