The wind of change

Silviu Tolu
Participant of Global MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods 
28 July 2020

As I am writing this on a sunny Sunday morning, there is a breeze coming in through the opened window: that is the scent of holidays approaching, of free time, of freedom. It is almost the same each year, but the only difference is that this summer is basically ruined. Completely. Both on a personal level, and for many, also professionally.

I don’t know for others, but I won’t be able to get out of the house as nothing happened and enjoy a few days at the beach. Even as the safety measures relax, there will still be something that will hold me back.

Then some wishful thinking starts creeping into my mind telling me that maybe this cool breeze is the wind of change but I quickly realize that it is the optimist in me speaking. I sit back down and I ask myself out loud the question I am supposed to address in this article: What are the challenges that Covid-19 has created for the Fashion and Luxury Industry?

The first challenge everyone thinks about is the financial one, or put more casually, running out of cash. This may not be the case for the giants in the industry (although you never know), but if you are a mid-sized family business that has just injected some capital to open a couple of retail stores you might be in trouble. If you add on top of that a weak online presence (or worse, none at all) the risk of failure increases exponentially. As the co-owner of a boutique business operating in this industry, my advice is: try to do everything you can to resist and survive this. Talk to your customers – this is a good opportunity to get closer to them and even if they won’t be able to help you in this moment, the connection will strengthen. Perfect your product – there is always room for improvement. Encourage online shopping and do so in a creative way – people understand that you need their support, no need to emphasize on that, it’s better to polish your brand’s story and highlight the value you are bringing to table. Have a look at your costs structure, is there a way to increase profitability by doing a restructuring? This might be a good time to do it.

The next big dilemmas that companies are facing nowadays: what should we do about our marketing budget and should we invest in talent? – both of which are issues that are often overlooked by managers due to lack of vision or long-term commitment or simply because they can’t justify spending money. Again, if you are a big conglomerate, maybe talent is not what you are missing and you surely understand that increasing (or at least maintaining) your marketing budget will pay off in the future. But smaller, less experienced companies may face a problem when faced with this questions.

Then you got the challenge of supply chain. And also, something that is ever more relevant for customers which is social responsibility (be it sustainability or something else). And these are points that expand beyond the world of fashion and luxury goods. So, it is with these matters in mind and more that we are starting the journey of BBS React Resource Center and we are look forward to document and explore the impact that the pandemic has had on the social-economic landscape.

If the context is not helping us, we might as well try to stir things up a bit to get that wind of change started.

About me, the reason why I decided to be a part of the BBS React project is partly connected to a book that I have read at the beginning of the year, before the lockdown – Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning – and two ideas from the book which I find particularly relevant today: that it does not matter what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us and that “life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

I decided to take this role of sharing content on the BBS React Resource Center because I am a part of this change, I am affected by it and I wanted to keep my skin in the game so that I can also understand better what is expected from me in my future endeavors. And if my storytelling and my experience during this crisis combined with facts received from the field could help even one reader, be it a (future) student, or an alumnus/alumna, a worker or anyone out there to come by a clearer picture of what is going on and to get an extra drop of optimism I will have completed my task successfully.

Author: Silviu Tolu

Participant of Global MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods 

Class 2019-2020