Adriano Goldschmied Speaks About Covid 19 Impact On Apparel Industry

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When the times are tough , we need to look up to people with vision , people who have shown us the path in the past and who will show the light to us for the future. In our industry , perhaps the most prominent personality on this pedestal is Adriano Goldschmied – The Godfather Of Denim . He needs no introduction for any one of us and it is upto leaders like these that we seek answers and inspiration from , during the unprecedented times that all of us are going through. It was indeed a pleasure and honor for me that he agreed to share his views on current situations and future indications for our industry. I spoke to him on the various aspects of the coronavirus crisis (at our Instagram ) and its possible impact on us and how we need to adjust ourselves and find solutions . He shared his erudite views backed by decades of experience in his very humane and humble way. The immediate future looks tough but we need to be resilient and adjust ourselves in innovative ways – is his fundamental message.

Sandeep:
First of all I want you to thank you for joining this discussion it’s such a pleasure and honor for me.

Adriano:
It is an amazing opportunity- thank you very much .We are experiencing first hand what it means to be digital . It is a good exercise because it looks like this will be our future.

Sandeep:
Absolutely, I agree with you.So how’s everything in LA ? Is it getting better than before?

Adriano:
The situation in LA is very similar to other parts of America, but better than New York . Let’s say, every business is closed and only essential facilities are open. People might need to stay home long time, which is not a good thing.  Basically, we are suggested to stay at home, but free spirited Americans are still going around. In Italy, for instance, is different because they can pose heavy fines if you disobey a state/federal mandate.  We hope Americans who love freedom & independence understand the importance of staying home and can contribute to everyone’s safety.

Sandeep:
Absolutely, because it’s for everybody and it’s totally unexpected and we all are actually trying to find a way out what to do .We have to find a way out of this situation. First of all , I really hope that all your friends and relatives and family , everybody is okay and healthy.

Adriano:s
Everybody is fine including my staff.  Let’s say, I really care about my team. They are the biggest value of the company.  I ordered them to stay home even before the California government ordered people to stay home.  We are working remotely from home, but all our mills in China are reopened and operating at 100%.  Our business is already very digital.  That is why we can adapt easily to the new situation.  But we do miss the touch & feel portion of our business.  This is a big moment of responsibility for us all. It is in the hands of every single person to help and to try to arrive to a good conclusion.

Sandeep:
So what do you think of the situation ? how it’s really going to affect all of us because we are seeing massive issues going on,  the stores are closing down , bankruptcies are coming , the supply chain is getting totally disrupted. What is really going to happen in fashion industry and denim industry in particular ?

Adriano:
My feeling is that we do not realize the magnitude of this disaster.  Everyone is very uncomfortable.  All the stores are closed, all the companies are closed.  We are doing our best to do our work remotely at home, but I don’t think we realize the real consequences of this situation in our business.  The reality is that we don’t have a complete vision on the impact on our business.  The work has turned more towards a digital platform.  This is very difficult for my generation. Personally for me, I am used to having physical contact with the people, with my team.  Working digitally is something we are all forced to learn today to maintain business.  I think this is a positive thing. What we have done in the past by physical contact can be done digitally & remotely today saving a lot of time. We will continue to work this way even after we get back to normal.  The current mood right now is very emotional and the only button that we have in front of us is the panic button.  Instead, we need to be ready to press the restart button.  This will require us to have a better vision of how the situation is revolving. The consequences of the coronavirus will change the way we make business decisions.  This situation is going to have long lasting effects and we have to think to take on a bigger moral responsibility.

I believe this will forcibly push our industry in a positive way towards sustainability & circular fashion.  It will also push the consumers to buy products that are more durable, more valued, in a more responsible way.  The consumers will indicate to the mills and manufacturers to go towards this direction. Next year for sure we’re gonna be down in our business at least by 50%.  It will have a terrible impact in the organizations of all supply chains globally.  It will hit dramatically in countries where textile is a big part of their economic sector. 

I don’t want to be negative, but the denim business has been changing the social life in a lot of countries.  Particular in developing countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan & many others.  So my mind is going to the millions and millions of people that rely on manufacturing jobs not just as work, but also their livelihood.  They don’t have other options and their governments have limited means to assist them.  When we overcome the coronavirus and go back to normal, we will have to adjust to a new “normal.”  It will not be like switching a light on.  The industry has to find a formula to understand the new reality and reinvent the way we work. Even though it is difficult for all, for countries like America, it will be easier to be able to help people.  Unfortunately the poor will be the ones who will pay the biggest price.

Sandeep:
It is a really very tough situation and I don’t know if you are not able to think about solutions , it is really very difficult for us to really think about solutions.There seem to be no way out but in terms of consumption patterns by the consumers what changes do you think will happen in terms and the end of the consumer? What would they look forward after these crisis?

Adriano:
It’s clear we face difficulties, but I’m positive that life will go on.  Everyday we will have a new morning.  The reaction to the new normality will be different in Asia (especially China) & in emerging countries.  People are at home for a long period of time and they are anxious and probably the reaction for them is to go shopping again.  It will probably be a shopping party.  On the other side, in America & Europe, consumers will reconsider their way of shopping. 

The consumers are more mature and not afraid to change the approach that they have to shop.  All the digital shopping is going to be booming but they are going to reconsider shopping in a more responsible way. They will buy less and buy better.  Transparency will be more evident and help the consumer make better choices with the information provided. This is the direction that we have been pushing for for years and years.

Sandeep:
Do you think fast fashion will move out? Is Fast fashion is going to finish ?

Adriano:
We have different reactions from different parts of the world.  One way is that fashion will be more important.  Fashion has an important role because it is creating an emotion for the buyer.  Fashion is stimulating this approach that the consumer is thinking that they cannot live without the new fashion.  Consumers of fashion are interested in new products, fits & washes all the time.  In my opinion, the market will change. 

The rule was that we come to the market with new products every six months. We need to change our method of work and to be more open minded. There is no obligation to make 40+ piece collections.  We should bring new products to the market when it is interesting for the market. This way will be much more simple. 

We need a more digital approach that is available anywhere, all the time.  The other way is that the consumer is going into more basic, simple & clean products.  Basics is not all about price.  As transparency is more available, they will choose products with more value and durability.  Our consumers are ready for a lot of different price points.  The price will reflect the real value of the product. 

I am one of the original leaders of premium denim.  I remember when we could take a mediocre quality denim and put a hefty price like $300 dollars and call it “premium.”  That is fake premium.  It was taking advantage of the emotion of the consumer and not providing a real premium product.  Now consumers have information and choices to select better quality products.  Recycling and reuse of garments is taking a lot of attention.  When we come out from this pandemic, we will have a new face of our business.

Sandeep:
Well as we see the reports, we understand that this situation in some way will continue for at least one year or one and a half years till the time we have really have a vaccine.So do you think with so many people working from home will also affect the kind of clothes the people will be buying ?

Adriano:
I think there are a lot of things that can be done digitally. For instance, I am a partner with MYR , a digital platform to design & develop remotely.  With this technology, you can control the development and production digitally and remotely. 

This is a very important step to reduce cost and is much more sustainable.  On another level, the trade shows will play a different role as we work with at digital platform.  This will save us time & money.  Think about design, with a digital platform we will be able to have a closer relationship with the vendors. 

This will also enable us to have a closer connection with the market for a faster exchange of ideas.  We don’t know how this will work, but for sure it will be the new way, our new normality.  The current situation is like a tsunami.  Only the good & strong will survive.  The panorama of the mills will be reshaped by acquisitions with companies that understand the need to switch to a more digital platform.

Sandeep:
I really want to thank you for your wonderful views and people are really happy to watch you speak and understand from you what’s happening around.So I really thank you for everything that you know.

Adriano:
Thank you very much. I wish to our people and all the humanity to be healthy and that this will pass soon.  We need to be ready for big changes and find a way to make our business better.  I hope the industry will think in a much more moral way and think about all the affected people to guarantee a better life and not just about the profits.  Thank you very much and good luck.

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