Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

This year’s Eid fashion was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Southeast Asia where the festivity is widely celebrated. Along with slower demand, supply chain disruptions also impeded brands’ ability produce a high number of newness. This report investigates the pandemic’s full impact on Eid fashion in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Written by Atiqah KamarudinJune 29, 2020

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Introduction

Key Insights

  • Disruption to Markdown Timing: Retailers carried out more markdowns earlier to satiate demand.
  • Renewed Interest: Consumer confidence rose during Ramadan with sell-out peaking just a week before Eid.
  • Opposing Styles: The Malaysian market showed a preference towards classic, minimal styles while Indonesia showed continued interest in elaborate designs.

 

This year’s Eid was unlike any other with coronavirus affecting many brands, including the Malaysian “it” label Mimpikita. Its sales reportedly dropped by half – a rare occurrence, as the Eid-al Fitr festival typically brings in 90% of the year’s sales for the brand. This scenario had not only hit the local brands but also transpired in the UAE, with declining need for suhoor outfits. However, some managed to withstand the heat brought on by the pandemic.

This report aims to uncover how the coronavirus affected Eid trading and the styles preferred by consumers in Malaysia and Indonesia for Eid 2020.

Over 80,000 data points were screened from February 10 – May 24, 2020 (14 weeks leading up to Eid) across the women’s ethnicwear category on multilabel e-tailers Zalora and FashionValet.

 

All data used in this report comes from products retailing online as tracked by Omnilytics, unless otherwise mentioned.

content image-2 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Trade Performance in Malaysia

Delayed Launch

Similar to last year, Zalora launched its Eid 2020 collections as early as 3.5 months ahead of the festival. The retailer’s in-house label Lubna was among the first to launch on the site. However, most collections were delayed this year, launching 6 weeks before Eid compared to 10 -13 weeks in 2019.

FashionValet also experienced delayed launches this year, peaking at just 3 weeks before Eid.

Short-Lived Demand

Total sell-out hit the highest level in mid-March but later slowed, as the government implemented the movement control order (MCO) on March 18. However, consumer interest picked up again during Ramadan, as confirmed by Giulio Xiloyannis, CCO of Zalora. The Eid 2020 collections on its site were well received, showing an uplift of 27% YoY, despite the shorter selling window.

Meanwhile, FashionValet saw a boost in sell-out during Ramadan but only recorded single-digit growth for this year’s collection. The retailer also experienced a massive 48% decrease in total sell-out YoY.

Reduced SKUs

FashionValet observed a staggering reduction in its new arrivals (-56%) compared to last year with 44% fewer brands retailing on the site (Chart 2).

Although Zalora’s newness increased this year, some prominent brands including Afiq M, Alia B. and Rico Rinaldi were noticeably missing on the platform.

content image-3 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Trade Performance in Indonesia

Last-Minute Shopping

A downturn in consumer spending was apparent between late-March and mid-April, as the government declared a state of emergency and rolled out large-scale social distancing. Despite the restrictions, Zalora managed to achieve double-digit growth from last year in total sell-out.

Sell-out peaked just a week before the festivity, indicating Indonesian consumers’ preference for last-minute shopping. This buying behaviour was also observed last year, as sell-out started gaining momentum a month before Eid.

Declining Newness

The Eid 2020 collections in Indonesia were launched as early as 3.5 months out from Eid, which was similar to last year. However, this year’s new arrivals saw a significant drop much earlier – 2 months before the festival. In contrast, the volume of newness launched last year was more consistent until a month before Eid.

content image-4 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Pricing Strategy

Overall, the Eid 2020 collections on Zalora were launched at reduced prices. The respective staple outfits in Malaysia and Indonesia saw an average of 13% and 6% decline in price compared to last year.

Collection Size-Led Strategy

Two different approaches that were led by SKU count were seen at brands on Zalora during the pandemic.

Brands that exercised reductions in price were able to use their wide assortments to remain competitive. Lubna, Zalia, Klambi KL and NH by Nurita Harith of Malaysia increased new-ins YoY but at 4%-17% reductions in price. Indonesian homegrown brand, Icon also executed the same strategy by reducing its prices by 20%. The brand recorded a massive increase in its new arrivals this year by 129% YoY.

Meanwhile, Yans Creation, Zoe Arissa and Rizalman for Zalora observed higher prices in response to a lower intake this year. Bibiq from Indonesia, raised its prices by 44% to compensate for its tighter assortment.

content image-5 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Discounting Strategy

Discounting became a common practice in March as lockdown was imposed on both markets. Consequently, ethnicwear saw a greater contribution to discounted products compared to last year.

There were two different approaches to discounting amidst the pandemic.

Early Discounting

Brands typically started to impose markdown during the fasting month, as seen in 2019. However, the number of discounted products started increasing following the MCO to satiate demand, peaking at 44% in contribution in April. Although there was a notable increase in discounted products, the depth of discount was shallow and levelled last year at 25% off.

Aggressive Markdown

In the unusual conditions of the pandemic, other brands opted to use the festive period to clear out old stock. Malaysian homegrown brand Afiq M did not produce any ready-to-wear collection this year but did a clearance sale on its previous collections. It reduced all the items to a flat price of USD35 from USD100-140 on its site. The move only resulted in 25% sell-out rate for its 2019 collection.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian market saw a more aggressive discounting strategy in response to soft demand. The percentage of discounted products peaked at 80% in 2020 vs. 65% in 2019.

content image-6 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Brand Communications

Last year, Zalora started building hype on its annual #ZALORAYA2019 campaign 3 months ahead of Eid. However, that energy was missing this year, as the retailer focused on its new vertical, ZMart, supplying essential products to consumers amidst the pandemic.

A Lacklustre Campaign

The #ZALORAYA2020 campaign was not as publicised as last year’s, with no fashion show held due to the MCO. Zalora’s communications on Raya promotions also came later in April despite a big jump in the number of discounted items in mid-March. This translated into the low sell-out in March but quickly gained momentum in the month after.

For this year’s Eid, Zalora used messaging centred around comfort – be it relating to the product design or ‘celebrating at the comfort of your own home’. In Indonesia, the hashtag #ZaloraDiRumahAja and more aggressive discounting were used to entice cash-strapped consumers.

A similar tactic was observed on FashionValet, as the retailer held a ‘duduk rumah’ sale, or stay-at-home sale with up to 50% off on selected items in late March. The sale was extended until mid-April, with more items added and discount depth became progressively deeper as well – at up to 60% off. The retailer was also more active last year on curating its promotions, using discount codes for different colour themes to induce purchases, which was missing this year.

content image-7 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Opposing Styles

The two countries showed a contrasting style preference this year compared to last year.

Digging deeper into the bestselling SKUs, minimal and seasonless designs were preferred by Malaysians this year. Using the keyword filter in Omnilytics dashboard enables brands to identify styles with the specific keywords mentioned in the product name or description.

Keywords indicating trend-led and elaborate styles such as lace, ruffle, glitter and embellishment saw negative growth YoY in Malaysia. This shift in preference was attributed to the tight regulations imposed for the Eid celebration, which dampened the festival spirit.

Meanwhile, Indonesia showed a growing preference for more elaborate styles despite the ban on Eid exodus or ‘mudik’ enforced by the government.

Popular Brands

Amar Amran, Umma, Mkita by Mimpikita and Cangkuk benefitted from the shift in Malaysian consumer preference, as their core offerings included classic styles in relaxed silhouette.

Kaftans and Gamis remained the Eid staples in Indonesia. The bestselling styles included flowy pieces decked in lace and embellishments, as seen at Luire by Raden Sirait, Icons and Valino.

content image-8 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Colour Performance Analysis

While trend palettes had leaned towards basic shades amidst the pandemic, seasonal colours continued to persist for Eid.

Fashion Colours

Blue and pink remained the top fashion colours in Malaysia and Indonesia for two consecutive years. Though the navy blue shade continued to be a staple, lighter hues were also popular, especially in Malaysia. Another bestselling colour for the market included green, which showed a big jump in sell-out contribution compared to last year. The colour has been increasingly popular since 2018, led by deep and dark shades.

Despite being the leading colour in Indonesia, pink observed a noticeable decline in contribution in both countries. Soft and muted shades continued to be shoppers’ favourite, as seen at Luire by Raden Sirait, Mimamim and Yanna Azwar.

Core Colours

Black and brown were more popular this year compared to white. Brown, in particular, jumped by 4 percentage points, landing itself in the top 5 bestselling colours. Lighter shades of brown saw a surge in demand in both markets. Kamilaa by Itang Yunasz, Lubna, Luire by Raden Sirait and Lagendas were among the brands dominating these colours.

content image-9 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Bestsellers in Blue

True to the shift in consumer preference in Malaysia, the bestselling styles in blue were minimalistic and of classic design. Most of the bestsellers were comprised of classic cut Baju Kurungs and Kebayas in solid colours. Printed styles were popular too, which mostly comprised of ditsy floral prints, traditional batik and songket.

In contrast, the bestselling SKUs in Indonesia were more extravagant, with lace fabric used in flowy, feminine silhouettes. The intricate design was mostly applied on the hem of the sleeves and chest area of Gamis or Jubahs.

content image-10 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Bestsellers in Pink

The bestselling pink SKUs were comprised of soft, muted shades in both markets.

The simple design continued to be preferred by Malaysian consumers but showed a preference towards a more modern cut. Baju Kurung Modern and Kaftans with soft structure and drapes were well received for this colour.

The use of lace continued to be popular for this soft shade of pink in Indonesia. The fabric was used heavily on flowy Tunic Tops, Gamis and Kaftans, as seen at Icons, Bibiq and Luire by Raden Sirait.

 

content image-11 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

A Modest Celebration

The Eid celebration this year was far from normal due to restrictions. Mass prayers and big family gatherings, an essential part of the festivities, were prohibited to contain the spread of the virus. Interstate travel was also banned – Malaysians who disregarded the ruling had to pay a heavy penalty. The annual tradition, mudik, was also banned for Indonesians.

This year’s celebration was a “stay-at-home” Raya with close family members for Muslims in both countries. In Malaysia, Raya visits within the same state was still allowed but capped at 20 people at any one time. However, this did not dampen the spirits of the festivity, as many Muslims found solace in the modest and solemn celebrations. Celebrities and influencers also continued posting on their Eid OOTD’s just like any other year, with the hashtag #coveid and #stayathome.

As large gathering with relatives were prohibited, many turned to video calls to continue carrying out the celebration. The Eid festivities were also cut short this year and celebrated during the first two days. Malaysians would typically celebrate for one whole month, with open houses invitations filling in every weekend.

content image-12 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

Conclusion

Next Steps for Brands

Incorporate Transitional Design: In this current climate where consumer preference is rapidly shifting, it is crucial for brands to meet their needs at a greater speed. The sudden shift for minimal and classic styles in Malaysia for Eid this year provides an opportunity for brands to experiment with seasonless designs. Brands can adapt to the trend by starting with a capsule collection within Eid that focuses on transitional design, while still staying true to its positioning, as seen at Umma, Mkita by Mimpikita and Amar Amran.

 

Reroute Existing Stock: Brands left with many unsold Eid items or that missed out on launching during the festive season can leverage on the upcoming Eid al-Adha in July. As lockdown and travelling restrictions have eased in most countries, consumers are anticipated to celebrate this festival in a big way. Brands should review their SKUs accordingly to plan which items can be optimised for full price sales and which should go into markdown.

 

Importance of Data & Analytics: The key staple items and preferences for Eid differ despite the close proximity of the two countries. Therefore, it is important for brands and retailers to adopt a localised approach, as opposed to implementing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ method. Conducting in-depth market research is crucial for a successful market expansion. A data analytics tool will help brands achieve this seamlessly and efficiently, in getting the right assortment and distribution channel for each market.

 

 

content image-13 Southeast Asia: Eid Fashion in the Time of COVID-19

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Meet the Author

Atiqah Kamarudin

Nur Atiqah Kamarudin is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Omnilytics. With past experience at Nielsen and Euromonitor, she has spent years analysing data and unearthing insights to help brands and retailers make informed decisions. She currently produces reports on the fashion industry and its changing retail scene across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Southeast Asia.

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