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Difficulties of the Fashion Industry
Written by Hyunsung Julie Lee | Published. 2021.02.02 14:12 | Count : 342

Although it has already been a year since Covid-19 first struck, its detrimental effects on society still prevails. With students still being forced to attend virtual school, and people still not being able to enjoy what used to be ‘normal’ activities (such as going to the movies), it is evident that everyone all over the world has faced the horrors of Covid-19. Although many people have been affected, the majority that was most deeply affected by Covid-19 worldwide were business owners and workers. Since people were forced to stay home, those working primarily in the travel and transportation industry, suffered due to the lack of customers. However, one other industry that faced just as many hardships was the fashion industry.

In order to learn precisely what hardships the fashion industry faced, I decided it would be best to interview Hyesil Lee, a fashion designer who first hand faced and is currently facing the awfulness of Covid-19. Director Hyesil Lee is currently the design director for ladies outerwear at Amerex Group and handles Jones New York, Sanctuary labels and most private labels for high departments.

[Photo of Hyesil Lee and the author. Photo credit: Hyunsung Lee]

However, before Hyesil talked about her first-hand experience battling Covid-19, she wanted people first to understand that the fashion industry was already facing challenges before Covid struck, which made the impact from Covid much more effective. She stated that one of the main factors was the accumulating popularity of online shopping. Hyesil mentioned that originally, the primary market where clothes were sold were at retail stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s. However, as people started to find more convenient ways to shop, those in the fashion industry were forced to compete against giant companies such as Amazon and Walmart. 

[Photo of Hyesil Lee in a virtual meeting. Photo credit: Hyesil Lee]

After explaining how the fashion industry was already in a difficult situation, Hyesil went on to explain the additional challenges that arose due to the Coronavirus. Including the usual changes, such as communicating online, she stated that the industry took the enormous toll. It became more competitive and challenging when people started to practice social distancing and quarantine at home. Providing more details, Hyesil described large social events such as parties and even church services got cancelled, giving customers a reason not to buy fancy clothes, such as dresses and large coats. To add on, Hyesil stated that due to quarantine, people mostly stayed at home, which changed what types of clothes consumers wished to purchase, thus further changing the market. Hyesil expressed that people started to find and want more comfortable pieces of clothing through her and her team’s observations, such as hoodies and sweatshirts. This created a problem because, as a fashion designer, Hyesil declared that it was challenging to shift focus and create the design on types of clothes that she normally didn’t work with.

Yet, despite the sudden obstacles Hyesil and her team were forced to face, she confidently revealed that the fashion industry would be able to change for the better! She further predicted the industry might evolve to become a digitized fashion industry through the damage that Covid-19 inflicted upon the fashion industry. Hyesil stated that she believes that everything in the fashion industry will all be done online from designing to making and selling. In fact, Hyesil mentioned that the industry was already converting in the designing element. Before converting online, she talked about the time consuming and complicated cycle between the factory and designer each time a new clothing line was created. However, after moving this process online, Hyesil expressed joy about how efficient it was. Not only that, she further mentioned that the process saved not only time but also fabrics, money, and even the environment!

Despite the current challenges faced due to Covid-19, it seems as though the fashion industry will be able to successfully adapt to the changes and create a brighter future. A future where we hope that instead of being on the verge of becoming vanished, the fashion industry bounces back and relives to become stronger and eco-friendly!

Hyunsung Julie Lee
Grade 10
Korean International School

Hyunsung Julie Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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