The fashion magazine MARIE CLAIRE published an article on how some Spanish fashion brands, including ALAWA, deal with the crisis that arose with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Os We offer below the interview that this important magazine did to us.
This time we have gone back to our usual format, today Marie Claire asks and ALAWA answers. We hope you like it and help us better show the hearts of the people behind Alawa.
How are you experiencing the coronavirus crisis on a personal and business level?
I think it is impossible to separate the personal and the business level in a situation like the one we are experiencing. This crisis crosses all the levels in which our life can pass. People who die, become infected, or become unemployed are the people around us: our families, our friends, our customers, our suppliers. The people with whom our personal and professional lives are woven. That is why, although we have always opted for a person-centered business model, today more than ever we value this way of working. What I live at home with my family I also apply to my company. That is the maxim, and if I take care of mine at home, in the company too. And if I have had to adapt to my family taking new measures and changing our habits, in the company too.
At first we tried to understand what was happening and how it would affect our life, family, environment and the business project. Then there was a phase of acceptance and adaptation, while thinking about what we could contribute. Now, we are in the phase of seeking new ideas to adapt to the changes that this crisis will bring us.
What measures have you taken? Has the pace of production changed? What plans do you have for this season? Has online sales been enhanced?
We have taken action at all levels. To begin with, more stringent measures of the prevention protocol of COVID-19 when handling products, although we must say that since our inception we have applied rules that are now very useful for this pandemic, such as applying steam to clothing before that they enter the sales circuit, sterilizing the product and leaving it in its best condition.
Our main commercial engine is clearly spring and summer, and while globalization helps you to reduce the seasonality of swimwear, the strength is still local trade at European level. In our case, just the closing of the general production activity in Spain caught us at the moment when we had to finish making the garments for this 2020 season, forcing us to rethink production deliveries. That was our first opportunity to redesign strategies and adapt to change. We had to space the market launch of the new models.
Our idea was to present the collection for the 2021 season at the end of summer, and that also had to be revised. Although we have never stopped the creative process, it does not proceed with the same agility or the same times. The slowdown of the entire industry has forced us to change pace and priorities.
Another big impact we had to face was the disappearance of the physical sale, just at the moment when the stores were planned to open with the start of the summer season. All the original investment and planning had to be redirected to the online channel.
Imperatively we had to boost the online channel because it was the only way that allowed us to continue operating.
It was at that moment that we saw how we could continue to maintain direct contact with our clients and at the same time give a concrete response from our site to society. As I said at the beginning, the philosophy with which ALAWA is born is to put the person at the center (at ALAWA we always say that fashion is for people, not people for fashion), and we were in a historical situation. , where we had to assume a social and business responsibility at the height of the exceptional circumstances we were experiencing. We also had to give an effective response to the commercial break that had resulted in the cessation of physical sales. It was there that we chose to dispense with essential elements for our company, but that we decided to postpone at this time. With this approach, and from our possibilities, we lower the prices of all our articles to 50% during the confinement in Spain. We reduced margins to a minimum seeking to reach more people and in a more direct way.
It is true that as a corporate policy we do not usually use the discount scheme on our products, but we saw that we were living in a moment that required exceptional measures.
The public response could not have been better. The message of contributing what we could as a company, from our place in society, was well understood and welcomed. I would also say that as a brand we have felt supported by our own clients. It is a time of great growth in terms of “the soul” of our company. It is true that the numbers and the economy have put us all in check, but thank God there are other elements that sustain and invigorate a company. Those are the ones that are propping us up in this situation.
How do you think the situation will evolve as a result of the lack of confidence?
No one has a crystal ball, but from what we are seeing, e-commerce will be a vital channel in the recovery of commercial activity. Physical contact with the client is predictable to decrease, but that does not mean that the contact itself decreases. If there is something that this crisis has demonstrated, it is the ability to be close and connect from the heart when we must be far away, or confined to our homes.
Could you tell us about something new about your brand?
As a novelty, this year we have released a fragrance that we are currently only applying to packaging. It is a detail that could be described as almost imperceptible, but for us it is a detail that we love and speaks volumes about our brand: applying the sense of smell to the shopping experience.
And in the future, in these troubled times, we are thinking of doing new things, we hope to be able to make them concrete and tell them soon!