<The COVID-19 crisis and the changes it will bring - from the perspective of the clothing industry. For 75 years - since the end of the Second World War - no other event has had such a strong impact on social and economic life worldwide as the current COVID-19 crisis. Within a few weeks everything has changed. Never before in the
history of mankind has there been such a lock-down, which has completely changed what we all knew as "everyday life" up to now - no upside down. Our life was torn out of its usual tracks within a very short time. Nice and slowly a return to what we call "normality" is emerging. The question remains: Have we learned anything? Will anything change? Or will we quickly forget "Corona" and soon return to the usual scenarios - cheap production in countries far away from labour law and dignity. So it is time to look at what will remain of "Corona" in our industry.
<During the crisis, we have recognized what we are missing. When borders are closed, when international transport routes are shut down overnight, it is easy to see what is missing in our country. Simple products such as protective masks and protective clothing were and are hardly available from Austrian or European production, and certainly not in the quantities in which we would need them. Everything is lacking, the necessary resources, trained staff, developed skills, the necessary technology and, last but not least, budgets.
<The attempts to increase the production of masks and protective clothing in Europe at short notice were downright miserable, as it had to be recognized that the necessary plants were lacking. Only the few companies that have maintained their domestic production over the last 40 years were and are available. And even in the production of masks, discussions soon became apparent that "the production of a simple mask could not be that expensive after all" and that "it would not be morally right to get rich from the current crisis situation". Very quickly it became clear that a significant part of our society could no longer recognize the value for the production of clothing - just as, in recent decades, the number of cheap products on the markets has been increasing.
<We need to develop new technologies. The development of a local supply chain, the use of local resources close to consumer markets, requires above all to address the following question: How are the comparatively high wages and salaries we need to maintain our high standard of living and our high gross national product here in Europe compatible with the production of affordable clothing products? If we want to rebuild production, we have to deal with technologies that we have not used in the clothing industry so far. Only in this way will we be able to manufacture products at affordable prices and create jobs that are interesting enough that we will not have to fly in cheap temporary workers again (bypassing all the laws) on special flights from Eastern European countries. Using resources in a local supply chain would also mean above all dealing with new material issues that can make us independent of cotton and cheap polyester.
<If we want to achieve this goal, i.e. to rebuild production close to the consumer markets with the help of new technologies, it will be essential to provide the necessary training. So we need schools and universities again, which deal with the
manufacturing of textiles and clothing and thus train well-trained personnel for the future of the textile and clothing industry. Only in this way can the production of clothing then also regain the necessary status in our society. If young
engineers can proudly say that they are involved in the production of clothing in Europe, develop new technologies and thus make an important and essential contribution to creating high-quality, interesting jobs that are secure for the future and crisis-proof.
<Fashion and apparel should regain its value. If we make these investments in the future, build manufacturing plants, develop technologies and provide high quality and recognised training in our sector, then apparel will regain the value it should have. Customers will buy new garments again with care and ensure that they will use them for as long as possible.
<The chance that we get through COVID-19 is very strong. I wish for the clothing industry that we take exactly this learning out of the current crisis. With our small team from BREDDY'S we have been working for over three years on the implementation of the scenario described above. We have developed a product that is high quality and whose supply chain is 100% European. A product that is designed to be worn for a long period of time and whose development and production is based on the highest possible level of fairness towards people and the environment. The daily increasing number of our enthusiastic customers proves us right and encourages us to be on the right track.