The Pandemic, Brexit, Vaccine, Lockdown 3.0 and something to look forward to.
2020 was a year like no other for the professional clothing industry, testing the world’s resolve in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, comparable to nothing within the last century.
Borders were closed and supply chains disrupted; governments across the world were caught off guard and a global race for stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) began. Many of PCIAW®’s members valiantly stepped-up to the challenge and pivoted their operations to bolster the worldwide supply of PPE, in order to protect the NHS and global health services. History will look back upon this period of time with gratitude for their efforts.
The effects on the professional clothing industry
However, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t felt equally across the professional clothing industry. Social restrictions meant that the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors ground to a halt. Job losses were vast and the demand for corporatewear plummeted. The workwear market also took a hit but remained relatively steady.
Edward Grigg, General Manager, Incorporatewear Ltd and PCIAW® Board Director reflects: “The effects of COVID-19 on corporatewear have been considerable. Some companies have been affected more than others depending on their customer portfolio – airlines, travel companies, high street retail and the hospitality sectors in particular, have shown a marked decline in demand for corporatewear. However, like in all crises, agile and responsive companies will survive and hopefully get back to growth. Diversification of products towards PPE and a refreshed focus of the core business, plus the adjustment of company overheads requires calm but bold leadership and strategic decision making. Those businesses that have acted quickly and decisively will be best placed to respond when affected markets eventually return. It has been and still is a tough time for all my colleagues in the professional clothing industry, however, we have got through worse before and I am sure that we will find a way to survive and prosper.”
A tough year for the professional clothing industry
2020 was a tough year for many but as 2021 commences in the midst of a third wave, the expanding roll-out of coronavirus vaccines provides a glimmer of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.
John Miln, Chairman, PCIAW® comments: “In a year scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PCIAW® and the wider textile and apparel industry can be proud of its efforts. A spotlight is being shined on the important life-saving work that was undertaken by the sector in the most challenging of circumstances. In related areas such as corporatewear and workwear, the resilience and creativity of member companies ensured their survival. As we begin 2021, we remain in the grip of the pandemic and intend to contribute however and wherever we can in providing sustainable solutions to the sector’s needs and those of our customers to the fullest extent.”
PCIAW® connected the industry
PCIAW® was at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic offering advice to businesses and connecting buyers to credible PPE suppliers.
Yvette Ashby, CEO, PCIAW® reminisced: “2020 was the craziest year I have ever experienced, businesses were desperate to source PPE. Too often I heard of activity from fraudulent companies supplying inadequate products, which only made the situation much harder to manage. Luckily, the PCIAW® has an extensive network of reliable and trustworthy businesses who were capable of delivering.”
It became clear that those outside of the professional clothing industry did not fully comprehend the complexities of procuring PPE, which must conform to regulatory standards. The PCIAW® worked extremely hard in collaboration with UKFT, CEO, Adam Mansell, to provide an industry sector report to the UK Cabinet Office.
The Brexit deal
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson oversaw the UK government to secure a Brexit trade deal with the European Union on Christmas Eve. On 30th December 2020, MPs overwhelmingly backed the trade deal offering tariff-free trade on most goods with our European neighbours, with the UK transitioning into a new era of Brexit Britain.
As businesses in the textile and apparel industry move forward with importing, exporting and manufacturing in post-Brexit Britain, a new reality will need to be adjusted to. New processes and paperwork will become the new normal and PCIAW® will endeavour to inform and educate our members on how to navigate these new circumstances.
As always, the devil is in the detail of the 1,246-page trade agreement but the professional clothing industry will take a sigh of relief as the tariff-free deal was signed. Research by Euratex estimated that a no deal Brexit could have affected the UK textile and clothing industry with up to 27,000 jobs losses with a further 100,000 across Europe.
A lesson learned: collaborate
The PCIAW® recognises the importance of strengthening the professional clothing industry, through collaboration with dynamic organisations from around the world. PCIAW® strengthened our links with our transatlantic counterparts at NAUMD, whilst collaborating with UKFT, BSIF, TSA, OCO Global in conjunction with the UK Department for International Trade, Gerber Technology, SATRA Technology and our Portuguese partners at ANIVEC, to share knowledge and opportunities, which we impart to our members.
By connecting the industry, the PCIAW® facilitates development. The pandemic has accelerated the utilisation of technology to improve productivity and quality, whilst reducing waste. As protective workwear and corporatewear businesses prepare the groundwork to take 2021 by storm, the PCIAW® stands firm by their sides to create opportunities and champion their innovations.
No time to waste
The pandemic may have delayed progress, however, nothing could stop the professional clothing industry from persevering with its development efforts. The PCIAW® ran webinars throughout 2020 on the pressing issues of our time such as sustainability, size and fit, manufacturing, UKCA regulations and more.
The dedication of the professional clothing industry’s commitment to sustainable action has been truly laudable. PCIAW®VOICE magazine reported on projects that will be transformational to the professional clothing industry’s ambition on driving down its carbon footprint. The circularity of textiles will mean our industry’s future will no longer be one of landfill dumping. Considering that our industry is the second largest polluter after aviation, the PCIAW® sees these projects as a pivotal moment towards creating a sustainable future.
The first webinar of 2021 will look explore Tunisia as a nearshoring partner for textile manufacturing for workwear, corporatewear and PPE.
A digital platform
Never before has digital communication been so vital. That is why the PCIAW® invested in launching our new, revamped website. The PCIAW® is a network, a meeting place and a hub for information and opportunity. Connecting buyers with suppliers and making business happen. We strive to create a one-of-a-kind experience with the sole aim of developing the professional clothing industry and offering it a voice to be reckoned with.
New and exciting projects
The PCIAW® has adapted to the ‘new normal’ brought-on by the pandemic and has focused our efforts towards innovating on our offering to our members. PCIAW®ONLINE will create original content encompassing the entire professional clothing industry to further educate the world about our industry and provide a voice to our members. Key themes the
PCIAW® uncovered to be of importance going into 2021 are manufacturing more locally, skills gaps within industry and diversity in the professional clothing industry.
PCIAW®ONLINE plans comprehensive outline of the workwear, corporatewear and PPE sectors. With an array of content including webinars, podcasts plus original product, fabric and fibre overviews we will provide a collection of knowledge, which our valued members will be offered the opportunity to contribute to, amplify their message and expand the range of opportunities for business development. What this pandemic taught us, is that the world needs to understand the professional clothing industry in more detail and the PCIAW® are the key to conveying this message.
And finally, here’s something to look forward to, the show must go on
After such turbulent times, we are delighted to announce the return of the highly-anticipated and informative, PCIAW® Summit & Awards 2021 event, sponsored by Milliken & Company. As the pandemic meant the event could not go ahead in June 2020, due to travel and social restrictions, the PCIAW® team have been and still are, working tirelessly with our sponsors and venue hosts to make the PCIAW® Summit & Awards 2021 better than ever before.
On 2nd – 3rd November 2021 at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, London Heathrow, PCIAW® will exclusively bring together industry professionals across the workwear, corporatewear and PPE markets to celebrate the monumental achievements of our industry.
Click here to register for the PCIAW® Summit & Awards 2021
Communication is key and the PCIAW® thrives from speaking with our members and celebrating their achievements. We aim to cover the global industry and we would be thrilled to hear from the ever-expanding workwear, corporatewear and PPE markets.
To get in touch, contact the Editor, Declan Osborn or the CEO of PCIAW®, Yvette Ashby.
Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.