The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 impacted varying global industries, and the wig industry was no exception. Keep reading to find out how Covid-19 affected wig production.
What's the link between wigs and Covid-19?
At first thought, it might be difficult to imagine that wigs and Covid-19 are in any way related. However, considering the fact that the virus affected all parts of the world, this doubt begins to fade–especially when you consider the fact that China is one of the world's largest manufacturers and exporters of wigs. Not only this, it is also where the virus originated.
When the virus first broke out in December 2019 in Wuhan, Chinese authorities were quick to act. By the end of January 2020, Wuhan had entered a strict lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. With the rest of the country also entering lockdowns shortly after, this closing of borders and shut-down of manufacturing meant wig production within the country fell alongside imports of raw human hair from India–a popular source of raw human hair for Chinese wig manufacturers.
This alone would have been enough to have a significant impact on wig production, however, factor in the rising popularity of wigs having already led to existing supply issues, these effects were only exacerbated.
China–whose wig exports make up more than 70% of the world's supply–had no choice but to cease production as the country entered its strict lockdown. While this helped curb the spread of the virus, the pause in production was felt almost immediately with many vendors having to relay the news to their customers that a shortage was imminent.
To make matters worse, China wasn't the only country whose wig production was affected by the pandemic. South Korea faced a similar situation and experienced delays in their production of lace products.
However, when it comes to lace made specifically for wigs and other hair extensions, Switzerland–who are responsible for the popular Swiss lace–was dealt a huge blow through the pandemic, leading them to completely sell out of lace at the height of the first wave of the pandemic. This was also the case for France and its French lace.
When will wig production return to normal?
Whilst issues within the wig production industry were incredibly pronounced at the height of the pandemic, as lockdowns began to lift at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, industries also began to re-open.
The industry is still getting back on its feet and despite the roll out of vaccines, new variants of the virus mean that a level of uncertainty still remains.
However, although it may still be a while until traditional wig and lace products reach full production capacity, the stalling in production brought on by Covid-19 presents the opportunity for a rise in popularity of alternative wigs.
Raw Society are a company focused on using alternative materials to create hair extensions like clip-ins and wigs. While Raw Society currently uses banana fibres for their extensions, they're now working on a new material using plant waste from India in a bid to make hair extensions and wigs more sustainable.
Whilst Covid-19 no doubt also affects companies like this due to their materials coming from overseas and the final product needing to be shipped to different locations, the demand for them is currently not at the level of traditional wig products. This may make them more desirable to customers who aren't finding exactly what they want from traditional wig offerings.
Image | Raw Society Hair
Has Covid-19 made wigs more popular?
Despite the decrease in production caused by the virus (particularly at the height of the pandemic back in early/mid 2020), it did little to reduce the popularity of wigs.
As consumers' desires when it comes to beauty continues to shift towards a desire for transformational yet low-maintenance products, wigs have and continue to rise in popularity.
Add to that the fact that as other countries around the world also entered lockdowns, many people around the globe were left with more time to try new things–wigs included. Social media and its online wig focused content creators have been a heavy driving force behind the rising popularity of wigs. On TikTok alone the search term #wig has 5.4 Billion views–a clear indicator of the current popularity of wigs.
With all of these factors already already playing a hand in the rising popularity of wigs and leading to demand surpassing supply prior to the pandemic, Covid-19 didn't curb this trend. If anything, it caused the popularity of wigs to rise.
As wigs continue to become more sought after, demand is showing no signs of slowing down. In an industry that's set to reach a value 13.3 Billion USD by 2026, companies like The Renatural continue to disrupt with innovative products like the Wig Fix. A beauty tool designed to make wig wearing easier and more accessible, the Wig Fix was named one of VOGUE's 29 best beauty products of 2020.
In turn, new products like this only further aid the growth of the industry, its value and its popularity. Ultimately, this also leads to rising prices, underscored by the previously discussed scarcity when it comes to raw hair and lace.
Although it's certain that until supply can meet the growing demand, the wig industry will continue to face problems and uncertainty due to Covid-19. Conversely, it's also certain that despite these hindrances, interest in and the popularity of wigs is still on the rise.
What do you think about how Covid-19 affected wig production? Leave your thoughts in the comments.