Unpredictable weather is forcing fashion retailers to change tack.
Warm winters, heavy rainfall and drought: across Europe, weather is becoming less predictable every month – with disastrous consequences for health and food security.
As this trend continues, its impacts are seeping into other aspects of our daily lives.
Fashion is one industry that’s feeling the effects of changing weather patterns.
As shoppers waiver between winter coats and summer t-shirts, their behaviour is becoming harder to predict. Once-clearly defined seasons are no longer set in stone.
This is making it harder for retailers to determine what to sell and when.
How is climate change impacting fashion?
This past winter was Europe’s second warmest yet. While some areas, including parts of Spain and France, are in drought, others are facing heavy rainfall.
In Italy, this is impacting summer clothing sales. In response, fashion retailers OVS and Pianoforte Holding are hoping to delay their summer discount sales, news agency Reuters reports.
Sale season is determined by regional authorities in Italy and usually opens at the start of July. Similarly in France, sale dates are determined by prefect and usually begin at the end of June.
The Italian retailers hope to postpone the summer sale season until mid-July, according to Reuters.
As summers get later and longer, this could become a trend across Europe.
Could extreme weather curb fast fashion?
Faced with unpredictable weather, shoppers may be more likely to invest in more versatile clothing.
This could force fast-fashion retailers to shift away from their ever-changing seasonal model. Trans-seasonal and heat-adaptable clothing with year-round appeal could become more common, reducing textile waste both on the consumer and retailer sides.
Advanced data analytics systems that take emerging weather patterns into account could also help retailers reduce dead stock – or they could be used to help the unsustainable fast-fashion model stay afloat.
Weather-responsive advertising that adapts in real-time to local conditions could contribute to this further.
How much does weather impact clothing sales?
Temperature differences can reduce women’s clothing sales by £11 million (€12.7m) for each degree it is warmer than the previous year, according to the 2018 ‘Weather to Shop’ report from the UK’s Met Office and the British Retail Consortium.
Weather has a major impact on footfall, too. Data from Swedish marketing company Tradedoubler shows that online sales decrease in sunny weather, as people favour going to brick-and-mortar shops, while the opposite is true for rainy weather.
Extreme weather is impacting the whole supply chain. Last year’s devastating floods in Pakistan affected 33 million people and around 40 per cent of the country’s annual cotton yield, according to government figures. Unpredictable weather is also impacting supply chains in China, India, Brazil and beyond.