Sika'a | From sustainability to diversity:2020 in the fashion industry - Sika’a
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December 30, 2020 3 min read

2020 has been a memorable year for the fashion industry, from sustainable clothing to Covid-19. It’s a year when we’ve seen several consumer trends really gain momentum.

sustainable african fashion
The rise of sustainable clothing

With over 3 in 5 customers now saying they’re more likely to buy from a brand that prioritises sustainability than one which doesn’t, the rise of ethical and sustainable clothing brands shouldn’t come as a surprise. At Sika’a, this is a cause that’s really close to our hearts.

From ensuring that our cotton fabrics are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, to sourcing fabrics from trusted suppliers in the UK and Indonesia, our commitment to ethical and sustainable practices starts with our materials. We also carry out all of our manufacturing in Britain, where world-leading working conditions apply. The global pandemic has certainly tested the values and practices of many brands. Our own commitment to ethical and sustainable practices has never wavered during this time.

Find out more about how we approach our role as a sustainable African fashion brand.

Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic took retailers (and everyone else) by surprise. Businesses had to implement changes fast if they were to cope, and ultimately survive, the crisis.

Adapting to Covid-19 meant businesses had to be nimble, keeping one eye on practices and standards like sustainability, and another eye on customer service, speed and sales. At Sika’a, like so many other retailers, we juggled both of these elements. Many of our suppliers stopped production temporarily in the first UK lockdown, and that meant we got stock in late, couldn’t fulfil customer orders to our usual timeframes, and were hit by the subsequent increase in customer service workload.

Addressing that when our team was also hit by staff reductions was hard. We’ve had staff on furlough, shielding and working from home, and we’ll admit we’ve not always been able to maintain the high standards we expect of ourselves. We’re well back on track now, though, and excited for the opportunities (and new products!) that 2021 will bring.

The continued shift online

For years, there’s been an increase in online, direct-to-consumer shopping. High street stalwarts have been forced to up their digital game in the face of competition from online-only brands, and consumers are constantly raising their expectations of the internet shopping experience.

The pandemic forced many retailers who weren’t already online to adapt fast. And even when shops are able to open, we’re seeing that many customers are still reluctant to gather in crowded environments, and that’s pushing ever more transactions online.

Sika’a is an online-only brand, with no physicals storefronts. Having embraced digital from the very beginning, we feel well placed for the continued changes ahead.

Diversity in fashion

The horrific death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter movement sent ripples across the world. One of those ripples was a renewed (and very welcome) focus on diversity in business, and on black-owned businesses in particular.

This interest in diversity cut across all sorts of sectors, from service-based industries to retail, but fashion is perhaps more visible than many. As a proudly black-owned retailer of African fashion online and a supporter of African fashion designers, we were delighted to be featured in some of the coverage. Take a look at Marie-Claire’s list of black-owned businesses to watch over the summer, and check out this piece for Fashion United. We’d love to think that this renewed focus on diversity may be here to stay.

2020 has been quite a year in fashion

2021 promises continued disruption, in the short term at least, but will also see brands adapting and mainstreaming the changes that they’ve had to make at such short notice so far. As for Sika’a, we feel hopeful that we can move on from the challenges the year has brought with renewed energy… after a festive break, of course.


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