The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a digital transformation by disrupting online shopping behaviors and leaving lasting implications on e-commerce landscapes. According to a survey of 3,700 respondents from nine leading economies, the covid-19 pandemic has forever shaped and changed online shopping behavior.

The survey titled “Covid-19 and E-commerce” examined how the pandemic has changed the way customers use e-commerce to make purchase decisions. The survey looked at nations such as China, Russia, Korea, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, and Turkey. Following the pandemic, half of the respondents acknowledged that they shop online more and rely on the internet for health-related information.

The acceleration of online shopping has not only affected sectors like healthcare, food, and beverage. It has equally disrupted the fashion and gaming sector as physical stores shut doors in compliance with social distancing regulations.

The acceleration of digital media uptake, particularly in digital fashion, is in part due to the versatility, access, and customization of digital fashion apparel. A growing reliance on digital technology to test digital fashion apparel underscores how digital fashion will take over fast fashion.

Virtual Catwalks: How Covid-19 Shapes Fashion

The future looks quite uncertain as the reality of life under lockdown continues to set in for families. Despite a clear end-of-date of the pandemic, observations show that social distancing will be the norm until a vaccine is available; and it is predicted to take one to two years.

At this time of reflection, consumers have paused to reflect and consider the systems in which they work, and they are slowly breaking down. The fashion industry’s predictive systems have long broken down, thus slowing filling landmines. But what impact will the coronavirus have in reshaping the fashion industry? What prospects does the pandemic promise in reshaping the digital fashion landscape?

Well, there are rumors that the pandemic has accelerated the uptake of online shopping. Fashion retailers are gradually shifting their focus towards e-commerce as a medium to push their ingenious creations. New evidence shows that digital fashion is proving to be a positive transition from the otherwise old, unsustainable, and wasteful fashion.

Digital fashion comes with new realities. It embeds a virtual environment, utilizes pixels to model garments and apparel, and uses a combination of 3D design programs to deliver a truly inspiring sense of fashion. These components create possibilities for digital fashion like virtual catwalks during weekly virtual fashion shows, particularly during this pandemic when brands cannot hold conventional catwalk exhibitions.

Fashion experts have expressed satisfaction with increases in workloads following the pandemic. This means that the covid-19 pandemic has led to a paradigm shift in how brands use social media and digital technology to dispense digital fashion solutions to consumers. For example, Matthew Drinkwater, the head of the Fashion Innovative Agency, says that his team’s workload has accelerated following the covid-19 pandemic. The FIA agency develops immersive consumer experiences that bring tech giants like LucasFilm and Microsoft with top fashion brands.

A Sneak Peek at Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a buzz term in the world of sustainability. As experts and visionaries continue to push the fashion industry to move towards a more sustainable future, it is important to know what fast fashion is. Simply put, fast fashion is the sourcing, design, manufacturing, and distribution method focused on rapidly producing a high volume of low-quality apparel and clothing. In fast fashion, garment production leverages a trend replication model and cost-savvy design materials to bring in cheap wear to the public. Although fast fashion has long been ignored, it proves as a sustainable model when applied in a virtual space where there is less waste, more innovation, better versatility, and customization power.

There are close connections between digital fashion and fast fashion. Evidence shows that the rise of digital fashion – through developments in artificial intelligence, IoT, virtual reality, and augmented reality – will completely transform how consumers view and purchase digital apparel. Already, documented evidence shows that leading brands like the Digital Fashion House created an exclusively digital dress with blockchain. This means that already, concerns point out that digital fashion will take over fast fashion as digital apparel become versatile and as digital fashion extends access and customization to buyers and users of digital media.

Evidence shows that with gaming and social media usage maintaining their reputation in what is a predominantly digital space, digital fashion extends the possibility to neatly dress an online gaming avatar – or better still, show off incredibly expensive designer wear to Facebook friends. Because of these capabilities, there is a commercial opportunity for digital fashion brands. While the concept of digital fashion may seem like a wild concept for some demographics, there are brand players that see it as a real game-changer. The latter visionary brands believe consumers will be asking retailers, “and does this come in a digital form?” in a not-so-distant future.

The confidence of digital fashion e-commerce retailers is backed by new evidence that shows that digital fashion products are selling for tens of thousands of dollars on blockchain-backed platforms. Through digital fashion NFTs, digital brands are proving that digital fashion is indeed replacing fast fashion. Therefore, looking at fast fashion, we could soon be witnessing another new wave of fast fashion that has lasting and more severe implications on how consumers perceive and consumer fashion.

Digital Fashion and Ecommerce Fashion Industry

In 2020, top fashion retailers with leading market shares — Levi’s, Nike, and H&M –suffered revenue dips following the corona pandemic. Rising globalization, digital innovation, and shifts in consumer spending have also accelerated the fashion industry. The pandemic has made the fashion industry more unpredictable than ever, calling for strategic decision-making in areas like product sourcing, design, manufacturing, distribution, and display.

Evidence shows that the global fashion e-commerce industry was expected to decline from $531.25 in 2019 to $485.62 in 2020. The negative compound annual growth rate was attributed mainly to the coronavirus pandemic. However, with new possibilities and fresh realities afforded by digital fashion, the fashion industry is set to suffice and hit $672.71 billion by 2023. In the United States, the e-commerce fashion sector accounted for 29% of all fashion retail sales. Emerging statistics show that the US market is anticipated to take a sizable chunk from global predictions, attaining $100 billion by 2023.

Rise of Ecommerce Sites

There is a deepening divide between offline and e-commerce platforms. Consumer sentiments surveys conducted in April 2020 showed declines of purchase intent of 70% to 80% in offline purchases and 30% to 40% in online purchases, particularly in North America, Europe, and in nations that had never been under complete lockdown. These statistics do not suggest that e-commerce is offsetting the decline in offline sales. They show that e-commerce has been a lifeline for fashion brands as stores have been shut; and will continue to be a lifeline even after the covid-19 recovery. In China, for example, the return to offline shopping has been gradual, with 74% of consumers acknowledging they avoided offline stores two weeks after re-opening. This figure suggests that a fraction of offline sales could permanently migrate to e-commerce.

With e-commerce trends on the rise, one can only ask whether digital fashion is here to stay – and whether cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and NFTs will sustain this stay.

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