While visiting Southeast Asia this fall, I was impressed by how quickly the fashion industry in Asia has rebounded, although, of course, there were also a lot of business casualties along the way. I have not been back to Asia since the Covid-19 outbreak began about four years ago and, yes, it was one of the most difficult trips I have done in a long time. I saw many empty garment factories, as well as retail spaces abandoned and deserted, many of which had gone out of business because of the pandemic shutdown. Many of the large, medium, and smaller-sized fashion businesses were decimated. However, there were also many old and new businesses prospering during this tumultuous period. The fashion industry is somewhat similar to the Covid-19 virus: people in the fashion industry had to quickly learn how to survive by evolving and adapting their business practises to become more resilient and defiant during the most challenging, toughest times when all of their cash flows evaporated into thin air. Please keep in mind that many of these businesses did not receive any financial subsidies, grants, loans or any other sort of help from their own government and country. When I spoke to many of the current fashion business owners, they said “life was a hell” during that time. However, many businesses found a way to survive through different means of life support, even without their government’s assistance, and they are now looking forward to thriving and growing their business next year. One of the greatest lessons I learned from this trip is: if you want to survive through any period of difficulties in your fashion career or business, you not only have to be strong and resilient, but you need to be determined and defiant in every single business decision you make and action you take, if you want to survive and prosper.

– Chris Falcon is a Canadian designer and fashion educator with over 35 years of experience in the garment design and manufacturing business.