Caught in a churn

October is usually a big month for the global fashion industry. Not this year. In the eye of the pandemic storm, the industry is reeling under big losses, plunge in sales and broken supply chains.
Last Updated : 03 October 2020, 20:15 IST

Follow Us :


As the world comes to terms with the new normal, one thing is certain — fashion continues to be stuck in a limbo. It’s clearly not the greatest of times for the industry as it struggles to stay relevant in times of lockdowns and stay-at-home diktats. Even as shopping outlets and clothing lines are slowly, yet steadily drawing up the blinds, footfalls continue to remain a question.

“The focus will continue to be on categories that aid in comfort and ‘athleisure’. People are getting all the more conscious about health and hygiene. They are likely to consider multipurpose categories like tees that one can wear to work and play,” begins Rameswar Misra, CEO of a clothing company, adding, “We are expecting greater sales of shorts, night wear and tees compared to formal wear. Also, for some time, brands are likely to underplay the fashion quotient as spending more time indoors has shifted preferences to solid and subtle colours.”

Getting down to the business aspect, Vishal Pacheriwal, co-founder of a fashion label, believes that it is not an easy transition for customers to go from a complete lockdown to becoming carefree in their purchasing habits. “Footfall in stores all across the country is even less than it is during the off-season. However, there’s been a welcome spike in the last couple of weeks as the festive season is approaching.”

“There is a spike of about 15 per cent in the last week from what it was in August 2020 for offline stores,” he says, reiterating how purchases across industries have begun to pick up pace. “People are looking for comfort wear like kurtas, kurta sets, safaris and tunics. Online for brands is still performing a lot better than offline sales; we have seen a spike of 30-40 per cent in our online sales in the past three months,” he adds.

Experiment and innovate

A volley of experts in the business are also of the opinion that fashion is becoming inclusive. “For us, thrift clothes are the one-way ticket. We don’t follow any trends, as obviously a thrift store can’t do. The only thing we check is how affordable we can make it. Footfall is not impressive, but not too bad either,” states Amrita Chakraborty, founder of a popular thrift store. Amrita avers that although the scope for experimenting is much less in their case, they can hope for better results, because of their focus on affordability and simplicity. “We are trying to make cute slip-in dresses, which can be worn for WFH meetings and afterwards. A simple jazz-up with a polo T-shirt can work wonders. I think it’s time to get back to the basics,” she adds.

Fashion entrepreneur Sanchita Ghosh, who owns a clothing brand, rues that sale volumes have dropped remarkably. She feels this is largely because impulsive buying has taken a backseat. “Recycling and revamping old dresses to give them an all-new look should be the new fashion mantra now. Brands must gauge the current trend of sustainability to draw in consumers,” she asserts. As the founder of a brand that deals with organic and naturally dyed sarees, Sanchita is of the opinion that versatility and upcycling will rule the roost. “Recently, we have added ready-to-wear patchwork skirts to our collection. These are apparels that have been created by recycling wasted fabrics. We also made attractive block-printed reversible face masks to tide over this lean period. The masks did good sales pan India.”

Grim reality, but...

“We can’t expect customers to start shopping in a big way. What we’re urging them to do is to do the first or second round of selection online and then visit the store. My suggestion to buyers (particularly those who’re doing wedding shopping) is to spend more time researching looks, styles and values,” says Gaurav Khanna, director of a jewellery company.

“The fashion industry needs to reinvent itself and tap into current customer behaviour. More resources should go into giving people what they need at this moment of global crisis. This is the only way businesses can sustain themselves. Work-from-home fashion is what people are looking for right now and those who have decided to step out of their homes, need fashion that doesn’t burn a huge hole in their pockets. Masks and affordable clothing are good starting points,” says Vishal. Considering the grim reality, ultimately, entrepreneurs staunchly believe that some business is better than no business and for that ‘some business’ to happen, the industry needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Published 03 October 2020, 20:04 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us