Fashion CEOs Explain Why This Downturn Is Different

The Debrief

Dec 21 2022 • 21 mins

Much has changed about the world since the last recession — meaning, fashion’s reaction will shift this time around, explains BoF’s workplace and talent correspondent Sheena Butler Young.


Fashion is bracing itself for a 2023 filled with uncertainty. An impending recession hangs in the background of executives’ conversations about the year ahead. Leaders will have to strike a balance between safe-guarding their companies (which, may inevitably will include layoffs) while continuing to fuel growth and retaining crucial employees“There’s this mindshift shift that’s happened that people truly aren’t disposable … a lot of things that would have typically happened [during a recession] are now a last resort,” said BoF’s workplace and talent correspondent Sheena Butler-Young.

Key Insights:

  • In the coming months, fashion executives will inevitably start pulling recession-reaction levers, including doing hiring pauses and layoffs, reorganising responsibilities across teams and reigning in focus on experimental spaces like the metaverse.
  • But, market conditions are different now compared to prior recessions, and the industry has changed drastically.
  • Because of the labour shortage, CEOs are first and foremost focused on keeping workers happy.
  • Teams that were once considered “nice-to-haves” and “first-to-gos” — including sustainability and diversity and inclusion — have become crucial to business function for fashion companies in the past few years.

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