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Covid-19 is forcing us to make new fashion choices

The fashion economy has faced a pandemic-induced slowdown, but retail therapy is not dead, it's only changing

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash

Never underestimate the power of getting out of the pyjamas for a zoom call. The simple act of dressing up for Navratri or Durga Puja is a powerful reminder of the season of celebrations. Fashion is not dead, but the pandemic is forcing us to make different choices.

Our shopping cart has adapted to the new normal and these are the factors that shaped it.

Deep discounts

‘Mega sale, upto 70% off’ screamed multiple posts on the Instagram page of the recently concluded Lotus Makeup Indian Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2021 (LMIFW). It was a radical move, for it was the first time that a sale was thus announced in the middle of this 5-day fashion event. Before the pandemic, one had to visit the stall area of this fashion show, garments had exorbitant rates and discounts were unheard of. Like many things, the pandemic forced a premium fashion event to relook at how they did business.

The buzzword is buying fresh off the runway. Even the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) has jumped onto this bandwagon. With a dwindling economy, the festive season around the corner and stockists willing to clear their inventory quickly, designer-wear never felt more accessible.

This move to discounted designer-wear was predicted in a research paper published by Amity School of Fashion Technology in August. Titled ‘Effectiveness of Fashion Industry in Post Pandemic World’, it said that brands and designers will probably cave to marked-down prices. Turns out, one didn’t have to wait for the pandemic to end for affordable one-of-a-kind fashion buys.

Online for the long haul

Online orders, not surprisingly, have spiked and digital retail platforms, such as Myntra and Amazon, have reported a surge in sales. In a PTI article published yesterday, Myntra claimed a 100% growth in order received during its one-week long festive season sale. Orders peaked to 9,000 articles per minute, it said. Apart from basic T-shirts, shirts and jeans, shopping carts ran full with casual shoes and kurta sets.

Who made my clothes?

Young consumers are discerning and conscious consumption shapes their buys. It was evident in the collections at both LMIFW and LFW. Akshat Bansal, founder of the Delhi-based brand Bloni, believes in ethical luxury. He had a season-and-gender-fluid collection with textiles developed from regenerated marine plastic waste. At his phygital showcasing, there were digital animation of garments to look like real outfits instead of stitching them from scratch to avoid wastage. At LFW, the brand 11:11 introduced a button they called NFC that came with every garment which enabled the buyer to trace its origin and makers. It is a move to maintain transparency in supply chain in the interest of a circular economy.

Conscious consumption is driving these designers to refocus on Indian weaves. There was a sea of sarees, most stunning and wearable with little surface embellishment, that dominated the runway.

Re-style and re-wear

Using one garment to create different looks is another aspect of optimising it and a move towards conscious fashion consumption. This has spurred a bevy of fashion creators on social media to style a saree in multiple ways. Inevitably, there is a deeper exploration of drapes. Natasha Thasan who calls herself a "saree architect" on Instagram has launched an Instagram series titled Drape Therapy. With a dancer’s grace, the dusky content creator wears the saree with shorts or gives it a traditional spin with a blouse-less variation called Inji Idupazhagi. There’s also Komal Pandey whose sleek fashion videos shows the saree styled like a dress or she makes style references Bollywood actresses across decades. And finally, there is Ankita Katuri who styled her mother’s pearl white timeless bridal saree in three ways. These women have become the voice of a generation willing to experiment without becoming slaves to fashion trends.

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