Time for Digital First

As I write, Italy has been cordoned off.
The Northern border has been sealed, highways are empty, hardly any plane takes off anymore, and a ghastly silence reigns in our streets and squares.
Restaurants, bars and shops are closed, schools and universities have been shut down, while hospitals are overcrowded and new ones are being set up, hopefully with record speed.
As a sad recurrence, every day at 6pm health authorities report the newest numbers. Currently we stand at 2.100 new infections and, unspeakably, 250 casualties per day.
The economy has grinded to a halt and the government is handing out emergency cash and tax breaks.
Across all industries, the future holds only one scenario: the survival of the fittest.
Retailers have seen their turnover dwindle to single-digit rivulets before being closed down altogether.
With regards to fashion, for many the consequences are dire.
Whoever relied strongly on physical stores is facing an existential threat.
Extreme global turbulence will place our exporters, who roughly account for 79% of the industry’s €90bn in revenues, in a difficult spot.
It is hard to predict where and when demand will be returning.
In a striking and cruel analogy to the medical world, financial institutions will have to choose which enterprises to support with the oxygen of the business world, meaning cash aka credit, and who to abandon.
One thing, however, has become strikingly clear.
Old-fashioned business models with no significant competence on the digital side will be among the hardest hit.
Fresh names, with a virtual following, solid backing and a bold strategy, will rise to the forefront.
It will be up to them to revitalize our proud, and unbroken, banner of unlimited passion.

Marc Sondermann

Fashion Magazine 05/2020

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