Monday 26, Oct 2020, Delhi (India)
While other industries fall out against each other during the critical situation, the Indian Fashion Industry holds tight to its fraternity, standing together united against COVID 19. A recent reunion of Lakme Fashion Week with FDCI after 15 years of disconnect is an example set out loud that during times which concern the whole fashion industry collectively, no stone shall be kept unturned to bring relief to its people.
The Indian fashion industry is a chain that sets its roots in the rural sectors of India. The indigenous fashion nurtured and promoted by the designers in their clothing, footwear or other accessories and apparel owe praises to the skilled artisans, Indian weavers, and craftsmen first.
"This too shall pass". It is very important that we follow our Government's guidelines and help our healthcare workers overcome this Pandemic. We need to be proactive and take care of our employees as well as the not so fortunate (the daily wage workers, laborers, etc).- Dolly J, Indian Fashion Designer
We are all in it together!
"In this time of world crisis, I think we at DHI and the fashion industry are all coping with a common crisis." Anjana Bhargav, Fashion Designer, Dhi
While many Indian fashion designers were confused and caught in the chaotic situation initially feeling helpless to reach out, it was just a matter of time that they realized that they are all in it together! The designers, retailers, event organizers and craftsmen are tied to the same circumstance.
Our Masterji was blessed with a child in early February. It was days before Lakme Fashion Week and he told us that he would go back to his village home to meet his newborn only after Fashion Week gets over. After Fashion Week, we had to get our production sorted and had a few exhibitions lined up. The first week of March we had plans for our annual vacation and even though he had his tickets booked for mid-March, he decided to postpone his travel dates only after we get back from our vacation. Unfortunately, we had to cut short our vacation because of the COVID 19 scare and the very day he was supposed to travel back to his village home, the Delhi Government announced a lockdown and all modes of interstate transportation were stopped. It's been 2 months now that he has been longing to hold his newborn but now he's stuck indefinitely. At Jajaabor, we have many such stories to share.- Kanika Sachdeva and Neelanjan Ghosh, Fashion designers, Jajaabor
As many wait for the crisis to pass, the Indian fashion industry would have a lot to cope up with starting from a daily wage worker, artisan, craftsman going up to manufacturers, retailers, designers and event organizers.
"Most of our raw materials such as handloom textiles are produced in India while we also import a
few key fabrics from countries such as China, Korea and Japan — which are currently unavailable.
While the situation seems to remain difficult, we are working on finding alternatives locally and
even up-cycling from our inventory"
"I believe that in these difficult times, one has to innovate in order to survive. We understand that
an online point of sale would help sustain better; we’re also working on upscaling our Instagram
services so that we are able to handle queries directly from there.
For the upcoming collection, we understand that it will be important to create more work
opportunity for our craftsmen so they can recover the crisis, we are planning to optimize our
resources and recalibrate them such that the garments turn out to be the best we’ve ever made
while being able to keep the prices competitive for the anticipated market demands."
Rahul Mishra the Indian fashion designer based in Delhi, the awardee of the prestigious Woolmark Prize and the first Indian to showcase couture at the Paris Haute Couture Week 2020 is keeping his calm, preparing and utilizing resources for whatever may come next!
"We book our seasonal orders through events and pop-ups and exhibitions, but they have all gotten postponed, but the health of our workers, employees, and customers are of utmost importance, in such a scene one doesn't know how to continue also for a bit. I had some production parts which were Chinese and I couldn't source them too."
"Everybody is sort of homebound and international travels are out, all shows are canceled, I sell online through Pernia, amazon and sold through Aza too but I'm not a product of need so I'm not very sure of how fashion will do online but maybe as a reality, I may have to soon access that more."
A veteran of the Indian fashion industry, Rina Dhaka is one of the pioneering designers organizing the Indian fashion industry through her avant-garde designs. A successful designer from the '80s, she truly feels that even though times are difficult yet waiting patiently for things to get back to normal on its own 2 months or 3 months down the line is the best to do right now.
Stepping into the industry in the '90s the designer has witnessed the evolution of the Indian fashion industry. Her aesthetics truly reflect the style of the millennial. From having showcased at the UNESCO Hall of Paris to be one of the first few designers to stock with the Westside group of stores, Anjana truly moves with time utilizing every resource to work in her favor. Her positive attitude towards varied situations has not let even COVID 19 put her spirit down. Together with her daughter Ankita Bhargava Meattle and their team, the designer duo is working from home planning, visualizing and creating new ideas to implement once everything normalizes again, hoping to see a clearer sky soon, she is encouraging her team to reset and refresh.
"We are encouraging and motivating them to enhance their skills even at home by trying out new techniques of embroidery etc, so the time is spent productively and not in depression. Mental health is important at such times.
We and our team of designers ourselves are taking this time to visualize and create new ideas and techniques that we can implement once we get back to work.
I would like to view this time positively and say it is time to reset and recharge. View everything on a higher perspective."
"I am Home. My Message is stay home . Stay safe"
Working with over 700 weavers across the nation, Gaurang Shah, famous for his Jamdani weaves sarees and Indian wear had started maintaining social distancing and safety guidelines much before the lockdown. Understanding that the situation is way out of everyone's reach, he coached and created awareness about the scenario amongst the weavers and employees to prepare for the shortcomings.
"We have also advised our team and weavers to maintain social distance."
"Right now our stores are closed and we are following strict guidelines the central and state governments have given. We hope normalcy will return soon. The primary focus, we as citizens are to support all the efforts the government is taking and we do thank COVID warriors for making our lives safe. We pray for their safety too."
"The immediate effects are quite devastating. Sales are Zero, Cash inflow Zero and salaries have to be paid. It would be difficult to survive if the lockdown gets further extended. We are hoping that the situation gets under control soon."
Dolly J, is truly the master of recreating age-old embroidery techniques to fuse into wearable garments of the modern world. Working with Indian weavers and artisans to showcase exquisite pieces, the designer is amongst those few who represent Indian culture and heritage at a larger level.
Foreseeing and speculating how the fashion market might react once everything normalizes, the label is working on strategizing to survive these difficult times.
"Right now the hit is 100%. Even when the lockdown gets lifted we expect a huge liquidity crunch in the market and are expecting a 50% to 70% drop in sales in the immediate future"
"Our main strategy will be to minimize wastage and concentrate a bit more on affordable designs in the near future."
Inspired by the simplest aspects of Life, Jajaabor which means Nomad, brings to life the travel stories, their culture, and landscape through their fashion aesthetics embedded in their garments. A 2.5-year-old label, this situation has brought a major slowdown.
"Jajaabor is a 2 and a half years old label and in the last couple of years, we have just been able to make our brand visible. The lockdown situation because of COVID 19 is pretty uncertain at the moment and it's difficult to say how it would impact the label in the near future."
Caught in the situation with others, Jajaabor is prioritizing and contemplating upon what holds further to this.
"It's very difficult to predict anything at this point since we are fighting an invisible war and everything seems to be pretty uncertain right now. We have no means to figure out how long this lockdown is going to carry on but if work stops for a longer period, things would only get difficult for us. Nevertheless, we are hoping for the worse and making contingency plans accordingly. We have mentioned this before and we are mentioning it again; our priority is to make sure that the Jajaabor family remains unaffected during these difficult times. We would try our level best to sail through the lockdown period, stay motivated, hope that situation improves and get back to work as soon as possible. Even if the lockdown ends and work resumes, it would take some time for the fashion industry to recuperate from this unfortunate situation. The business might not be as usual and there would certainly be a domino effect that might cripple the entire economy for at least 6 months. As designers, we believe, the spillover would be much more dreadful than the situation now."
Recently featured under Forbes 30 under 30, the fashion designer is known for bringing innovation on the ramp. Akshat Bansal owns a fashion label Bloni and had showcased at the Lakme Fashion Week reflecting upon the obsession to be recognized by today's generation.
"Not having a Spring/Summer collection this year, actually turned out to be a blessing for me"
"The situation is such that it is leaving us locked indoors, I was working on a research with an Australian Mill and had consignments coming from Korea, all that has been put on hold."
Staying in self-quarantine he has been introspecting about the current scenario and planning on how he should be moving further.
"Italy is the big fish for fashion, if that is hit so badly, other places (fashion industry) will suffer, I'm thinking of now designing for region too, like fusion wear for India, we as a label have constructed garments thinking about the future of fashion, but that has completely changed and that too suddenly"
"I stand by everyone who works for me and will continue to support them for as long as I can. I am certain that we will get out of this stronger and together. The lockdown has put all our orders and productions on a standstill but in a situation like this, all of us understand just how necessary it is."
A fashion designer by profession and passion, Sunaina Khera had mapped her career path since her early teens. With confidence in her creativity, Sunaina immediately embarked upon her design journey with her own label, seeking inspiration and making discoveries along the way. The young designer discovers and develops new textiles and techniques to weave into her inimitable designs.
"The Indian couture market has a very strong place and I think with time, things will get back to normal. One thing I would be introducing is our pret line, which is easier to get your hands on and a bit more pocket friendly."
While the fashion industry undergoes painstaking efforts to keep everything integrated within their label, they are also standing united to support their members, employees, artisans, and weavers. Having accepted that this situation is not in anyone's control they are now charting out plans to move further and anticipating or hoping for a better Autumn /Winter Season 2020.