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The fashion industry’s pandemic pivot

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7-15 Pandemic Fashion HOR MON

MADISON (WKOW) -- One of the industries most impacted by the pandemic is the fashion industry.

From what people are buying to how people are buying it, the past 16 months have turned the industry upside down.

Founder and president of Twig's at Hilldale, Jennifer Van Wart, described the first few days of the March 2020 shutdown as "a state of disbelief."

She had to close her store indefinitely.

"From the Sunday to the Tuesday to the Thursday, by the end of the week, everything was closed," said Van Wart.

Her business and the entirety of the fashion industry entered survival mode.

"As it started getting longer and longer people realized, this might be a thing, that I'm going to be at home for longer than they thought," said content creator and influencer Cierra Reeder. She watched as everything unfolded and the industry came to a near standstill.

Stores had to dump inventory, sparking massive sales.

"I walked in [to my store], and I thought I'm sitting in a room full of rotting bananas, you know, I need to I need to get rid of these [clothes]," recalled Van Wart.

With most people working from home, designers had to rethink how to get people to keep buying new styles.

"A lot of people aren't going to buy your typical things that some brands were known for," said Reeder. "A lot of brands did go out of business because of that, but a lot of brands that turn to loungewear and athletic wear and leisure wear. It kind of got them through the pandemic."

"All of a sudden people were wearing matching sets, for the first time since I don't know, the '80s maybe," laughed Van Wart.

"Trendy sneakers turned super popular throughout the pandemic, and they're still popular," added Reeder.

Businesses also had to rethink how people would buy, amping up their online presence or getting creative. For example, Hilldale set up curbside pick-up for all stores that is still in place currently, even as vaccines have helped businesses and styles rebound.

Some pandemic style trends like relaxed jeans and those matching sets are here to stay a little while longer.

"We're seeing some of the trends from the pandemic kind of carry out through the pandemic and still evolve into post-pandemic fashion," noted Reeder.

And Van Wart noticed some industry trends shifting for better and possibly for good.

"People kind of stopping and reevaluating how much we're producing, why we're producing it," said Van Wart. "People in the industry are realizing that it's much more important to align your supply with the actual nature of the demand of the customer."

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Caroline Bach

Anchor, 27 News at 11

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