Hard times: trade in the time of coronavirus

Disability, Fashion, Inclusion -

Hard times: trade in the time of coronavirus

In this blog post, Emma, Kintsugi's founder, reflects on the difficulties of trading during these testing times and thanks customers for their support. 

According to GlobalData, "clothing and footwear will be the retail sector worst hit by the coronavirus in 2020, due to its non-essential nature and the eliminated need for new clothes as the public avoids social interactions and many self-isolate". 

This is a statement that rings true for me, as the founder of a fledgling apparel brand, particularly where a large proportion of our customer base is likely to have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus and the lockdown (I'll just leave this article by Frances Ryan here). 

Spending habits 

As people tighten their spending habits during this uncertain time - and with people losing their jobs or receiving less than their normal wage - spending on clothing and "non-essential" items has dropped. Independent clothing brands are feeling this more than most, and competing with fast fashion brands is especially difficult. 

For us, introducing new items regularly - as fast fashion businesses do - is a big ask. As a brand, we need to boost sales of our existing garments in order to have the money to spend on new pieces. As it happens, we are actively developing new items, and will be attempting to crowdfund the manufacture of one of those pieces once we are at sample stage. But promoting our current collection is the priority. Cashflow, as they say, is king. And the flow is slow. 

Supporting each other 

We're doing what we can to make it easier for people to support our business, by introducing Klarna as a payment option, so customers can split the cost of an item or items into three smaller, interest-free payments. We're also keen to give discounts where we can, which we know benefits interested parties who are likely to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media. 

On that note, I want to say the biggest thank you to our supporters and customers. You keep us focused on our ambition of making inclusive fashion mainstream and opening up the industry so it better covers the needs and wants of disabled customers. Your support - from likes and comments on our posts to purchases, big and small, reminds us of our purpose and keeps me from giving up when I feel despondent. 

Focusing on inclusion

Times are tough right now - there is a lot of inequality in this world, particularly for disabled people, people of colour and trans people. You could say that, as a fashion brand, we don't have much power to challenge these things. But I think we do - by hiring disabled models and refusing to be apolitical as a brand. 

I am keen to make sure we become more inclusive in future and recognise that we need to reflect a diverse cross-section of society. Disabled women of colour are not adequately represented on our website at present - this needs to change.

A big thank you 

We're a work in progress, as a company. The items we design are not perfect - there will always be room for improvement. With your support, we can progress and grow, and make a bigger impact. With every purchase, you are helping us to do this and, let me tell you, you make my day when you spend your hard-earned money on us. I personally wrap and post each item and I take huge care and pride in doing so. 

Thanks for reading this blog post. I realise it's been a bit all over the place, like a stream of consciousness, but I believe it's better to be real and honest than polished and curated. 

We will get through these testing times. And we'll get through them together. 

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