Op-Ed: Retail and the Forces of Nature

The 3 E's.

Consumption in the time of Covid is largely defined by what is most Essential, what sparks Empathy, and what provides meaningful Experiences. These 3 Es are at the crux of an otherwise imminent shift in the fashion landscape that has been crystallized by the pandemic and shed light on consumer behavior in the post-Covid world.

Below, Liya Kreidie, former Communications Director at Fashion Forward Dubai and current stylist at Wear That, explains to us what the new retail landscape must entail post the pandemic.

Luxury is a thing of the past, at least for now. Unless it can be associated with 3 main criteria: Essentials, Empathy, and Experiences (The 3 Es). What has become apparent during this period is that consumption in the time of Covid is largely defined by what is most essential, what sparks empathy, and what provides meaningful experiences, shedding light on the future of consumer behavior in the post-Covid world.

At the crux of this transformation are powerful forces that have been in the works for some time now. From the struggling and oversaturated retail landscape to the increasing need for work/life balance, from the rise of e-commerce, to sustainable and slow fashion, a structural change in how and what we consume has been inching its way to the forefront. Covid was simply the catalyst that came along to crystallize this much needed paradigm shift.

Basic necessities like food aside, take a moment to think about what kinds of purchases you have made during this time. How many of you have sideswiped luxury items for essentials, such as pajamas, sweats, face masks, simple tanks or t-shirts, workout clothes and/ or loungewear. Let’s be honest, you don’t need a suit or heels (or even pants) to WFH.

Some of your discretionary spending may have also been dedicated to some kind of donation, giving back, or compassionate desire to support. This could also manifest in making more environmentally-friendly decisions, “buying local”, or contributing to any such a social cause. We are #inthistogether after all and this overwhelming sense of empathy and unity seems to be almost as contagious as Covid.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

"Consumption in the time of Covid is largely defined by what is most essential, what sparks empathy, and what provides meaningful experiences."

Lastly, but most certainly not least, many have spent money on experiences like courses, webinars, meditation apps, online therapy, fitness programs, virtual tours, cooking related activities, books, arts & crafts supplies among other such activities. A big chunk of our time and money has been dedicated to healing and exercising our minds and bodies, in an effort to stay relevant… and sane.

Without stating too much of the obvious, there are a few absolute truths that shape the world we live in today: we are all staying home, we are all social (and physical) distancing, and we are all a little, if not a lot, anxious about what the future may hold. Covid has allowed us to spend more time with our families and, most importantly, with ourselves.  As a result, we are becoming more connected to our purpose and to our planet. We are less concerned with what others think of us and are more in tuned with how we view ourselves. All that being said, the 3 Es underscore this general shift away from the need for external social approval. They instead place much greater value on individual well-being. The byproduct: A more informed, healthier, happier and more resourceful population.

When Covid becomes a thing of the past, people will want to go out again, shop for luxury items and dress well. However, this time around, “feeling good” with their new purchases will take precedence over just “looking good.” Decisions will be measured by how much practical, purpose-driven, and experiential value they bring. Retail brands and Fashion Houses – big or small— luxury or not—should keep this in mind as they embrace our new normal. Survival of the fittest in the post-Covid world will be defined by how well we adapt to these undeniable forces of nature.