COVID-19 Pandemic And The Fashion Industry: An Opportunity For The Future
The impact of global pandemic Coronavirus has given the fashion industry both crisis and opportunity to reinvent itself… to slow down and produce fewer collections each year… to embrace the advantages of an online presence. Fashion retail is recasting itself to a more invested move towards sustainable processes and embracing the advantages of an online presence.
By Jasmeen G. Dugal
”Our design house is dusting off the storm and getting back to work”, says FIT New York alumnus and fashion designer Ranna Gill who lives and retails in New York and has stores in India. ‘‘We have missed the holiday season and summer sales. Our retail was closed! But there is no point in mourning that now. My team and I have resumed work that had ground to a halt during the onset of the pandemic. We have sanitised our stores and are following the guidelines sent to us. The way forward for Fashion is sustainability. I’m ticking the boxes and moving forward, aware that integrating sustainable practices into post- pandemic changes will be extremely challenging. Moreover, social distancing is the new normal and it’s hard to know when consumers will feel safe to step out and shop. Until then, our new virtual store will help them to shop without experiencing discomfort.”
Vaishali Shadangule, who currently lives in Milan, has a store in India and showcases at New York Fashion Week believes that the pandemic will alter how people approach fashion. ”People have pulled back on expenses like eating out, travel and holidays but we don’t see this pullback from spending on beautiful garments. Rather, there is increased interest in how garments have been conceived and manufactured. There is growing interest in sustainability and hand weaves! I have launched an e-commerce store because I have consumers and buyers worldwide and this is a medium of staying connected with virtual lookbooks, Zoom appointments and detailed swatch books for the buyers. It amazes me how quickly an industry that has always worked in- person has pivoted to working online.”
After eight months of shutting shop, it’s tough for designer Poonam Bhagat to recall what her days were like pre-pandemic; the days of heading to the studio each morning for meetings with buyers, helping consumers shop and holding budget reviews seems like a distant memory. ”Coronavirus ground the world to a complete halt and stopped the Industrial wheel from spinning. Just as we reached the edge of precarious financial footing, industries slowly began opening and lifting the financial crisis” she says. ”We have invested in e-commerce to support ourselves but honestly orders are few and far between because consumers still prefer to come in for coffee and try on garments. I too like it when they come over to the studio, meet our master cutter and take my advice on what would look good. The whole retail experience is personal and personable. I strongly feel that this module can still work if they are reassured that the studio is safe and sanitised.”
Indeed, as the world moves cautiously towards reopening, the preferences, and shifts in mindset that people have adopted during the pandemic will lead to permanent changes, including cautious spending, accelerated adoption of e-commerce and increased demand for sustainable fashion. It’s time for those in the fashion industry to do some soul-searching, to challenge themselves and commit to a greener future with sustainable processes.
I worked with Condenast India as Digital Editor, and launched Vogue India's website in terms of design, layout, technology and daily content. Four years later, I turned entrepreneur and launched my own luxury portal www.explosivefashion.in. Perhaps it's my hard work, passion and exclusive content that's placed Explosive Fashion at the forefront of luxury: reporting from fashion weeks, collaborating with luxury brands, meeting royal families to present their legacy and vision, championing talent in fashion and hospitality, reviewing hotels and restaurants, and more. My editorial is described as a storyteller—the story is about the person behind the fashion label, the luxury brand or the palace hotel; their journey is what I strive to showcase.