Impact of COVID-19 on Textile Printing Industry

Impact of Covid 19 on Textile Industry

Impact of covid-19 on textile printing industry
Yash Bhor
Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai

The beginning of COVID-19: how did the textile industry react?

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus originated in China at the end of 2019. Few months later, the entire world has been affected. So here’s what has happened in the past few months within the textile industry.

At the beginning no one thought this virus could go global this easily. Nevertheless, China has a prominent role in the textile market, so at the moment that country shut down, the consequences where already felt globally. In a response, a couple of European brands made plans to redistribute some part of their production orders that were originally planned for China, to product intake countries like Turkey, Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

A lot of printing companies in the world work with fabrics that come from China. Redistributing printing orders to other countries might be a solution for the printing work itself, but if there is no cloth to print on, there will be no product.

Conventional and Digital Textile Printing: two different industries in itself:

Even in the month of March, the textile production was at full speed in countries like Pakistan and Turkey where corona had not reached yet but when china opened it’s production site, there seems to be a difference observed in reaction and driving forces between the conventional side and the digital textile printing industry.

On the conventional side, as screens have no shelf life textile printing companies were making sure they have enough stock in their own hands. However, the digital textile market did not show the same behavior. The order volumes continued more or less like usual, until they stopped suddenly. This difference is probably explainable by the fact that inks have an expiration date, which makes hoarding these products much more risky.

The number of countries that went into a complete lockdown grew quickly. Soon India closed down as well and orders from customers in the nation went down to minimum in no time. However, the uncertainty is becoming bigger: when can countries open up again and what happens when they do?

China, as the country where it all began, is also the country that is the first to start its production again.

These were the main issues the textile industry faced in January and February, when no one realized yet how big COVID-19 was going to be. At the end of February, problems started in Italy. Italy is one of the important nations when it comes to industrial printing in Europe, and the heart of the corona impact was exactly in the same region as where most of the printing happens. Not long after the virus had shut down all activities in China, Italy announced a lock down as well, followed by Spain soon thereafter. By this time, a large part of the textile printing industry in Europe was in crisis.

The influence of COVID-19 on the international textile market:

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is holding the world in its grip. The effects are felt everywhere, in all countries, industries and businesses. The virus also has some serious consequences for the textile industry. A lot of people within the industry wonder what impact this pandemic has on the textile market, both in the short as well as in the long run. One certainty is that a lot of things have changed since the rise of COVID-19 in china.

Expectations: What's next?

What happens with the textile printing business when the global market opens up again? Shopping is an important social activity, especially now other events and social activities are being canceled all over the world. When the stores open up again, it is expected especially the younger generation, which is the target group for many of the famous brands, to start shopping again. That’s why there is a possibility that when brand shops open up again, the big brands will start ordering considerable quantities again. When global brands start placing orders again, it is likely that they will require short delivery times in order to react immediately to the demand of their customers.Digital printing is ideal to counter this highly volatile demand.

The consequences of COVID-19 in the long run,Besides the current printing volumes, it is also expected COVID-19 will influence the textile printing industry in the long run. Some of these problems are probably permanent. Below I will discuss some of the effects.

Shorter run lengths:

First of all, the desire for shorter run lengths will increase as people feel the urge for more individual choice. When everyone starts shopping at the same time again, they don't want to run the risk of buying exactly the same as their friends or neighbors. The success of Fast Fashion is based on that behavior and therefore these brands have new collections every couple of weeks. That wish of the consumer is likely to increase significantly the first period after COVID-19. And in order to keep up with that demand, run lengths and delivery times will have to become shorter.

A lot of brands are currently skipping an entire collection, but it is very likely that their designers are not sitting still at the moment. They are desperately waiting to launch their new designs, so collections after COVID-19 can change even faster to compete with other brands. More designs will be brought to the market in shorter periods of time, which will also lead to shorter run lengths.


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