The world defeated the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, followed by the Roaring Twenties. After the Covidian pandemic of 2020, will we see a return to abundance and surpluses reminiscent of the days of flypaper once we have defeated the deadly virus?
The coronavirus touched the world with an ill-considered ecstasy that made a big impression on fashion stores. The fashion sector was affected by the closure of brand stores and fashion houses and the postponement of the fashion show. With major events such as the Met gala and CFDA Awards postponed indefinitely and the closure of department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Selfridges and Saks Fifth Avenue, it’s time to dive into the crisis and predict the future of luxury retailing accordingly.
Designer Rahul Mishra speaking: Although it is still too early to predict consumer behaviour after the crisis, I think consumers will be more sentimental and sensitive to various phenomena, such as fast fashion, climate change, etc., and will be able to predict their behaviour after the crisis. During a blockade, people learn the importance of resources and should learn to use them more wisely. This creates a preference for more sustainable clothing with a creative and emotional value; consumers can learn the relevance, as it were, of smart, slow fashionable products made by people instead of machines with real craftsmanship. It is likely that the demand for independent designers and young brands will increase due to their popularity in the fashion world, and those with business models that continue to grow endlessly thanks to fast fashion may be looking for a new definition.
It seems that mentality and stability will remain key concepts in the coming years. The virtual stands for the next New York Fashion Week, Honeymoon Resort 2021, will be cancelled. The Association de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the umbrella organisation for French fashion, held a conference on the 27th. March announced that the Men’s Clothing Week and Paris Fashion Week have been cancelled due to a virus. The Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2020, organized by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), was moved to the stands in March.
After the crown, designers see a major change in consumer behaviour. The designer Pranay Bajdiya expresses himself: There may be a first increase in impulse spending to feel the true joy of retail therapy, but as soon as it subsides, I am confident we will return to a long period of authenticity, craftsmanship and tradition. The desire and urgency to support production in India is stronger than ever, because every local purchase means direct support for regional fabrics, local fashion brands and, in return, funding for all producers – weavers, tailors, embroiderers, craftsmen – to ensure their livelihoods. Atelier Pranay Baidya has been involved in e-commerce for several years and almost 60% of the retail trade is online sales through partner multi-designer shops. Pranay sees this number grow exponentially, taking into account excessive stocks and overproduction.
Workshop Pranay Baydya Tant Sari and project for the rebirth of textiles
As a social initiative I have created TANT, a special project for the sale, rebirth and celebration of the Bengal hand flower. Due to the closure of shops and markets, the weaving communities have suffered huge losses as the months of March and April (Chaitra Sale) are among the busiest months of the year, in the run-up to the Bengali New Year’s celebration (14 April). The time has come to mobilise support for retail and e-commerce to expand business and revitalise weavers and vulnerable communities. I will hold regular workshops with the weavers (currently by video interview), offering creative advice and expertise in textile design for the development of the current collection of the contemporary Tan Saré and the textiles for sale in the courtyard. The collection, which is only Rs. 1,000, will be displayed and catalogued in Calcutta and retail through the country’s large multi-concept stores, a national calendar with empirical pop-ups and e-commerce portals for the Indian diaspora living abroad, and the funds will be donated directly to the weavers, says Pranay.
Designers around the world believe that fashion can no longer afford to lose sight of the principles of increasing cyclicality and sustainable development. According to the designer of the Lecoanet label Hemant Sagar : I am convinced that cycling is the right way to go and that it is more about cultivating a personal style. The pandemic was a wake-up call that prompted us to work together to reformulate our objectives, to strive for more sustainable production and to see consumption in a whole new light.
The pandemic is also likely to affect different fashion categories.
The designer Karan Torani expresses himself: I have a feeling the middle classes are going to suffer. Clothing that doesn’t fit in with your daily life or a big event. Simply because you want to avoid costs that are not necessary for a certain period of time.
Torani plans to significantly reduce its production and focus exclusively on orders in the coming months. The value of money will be the key for the consumer. So I think the buyer might want to buy less, but he’ll want something important, something he appreciates and that’s a special outfit that lasts longer. If you only want to spend your money once a month, you want it to be special. In such a situation, we as designers have to be on our feet to create something that goes beyond the norm. So it goes without saying to expect an influx of innovative ideas, more meaningful stories and more important trends, says Karan.
Designers assume that it may take a while before the general mood returns, even with the lock open, but we can see that the Indian couture segment is recovering fastest. Perhaps this is because the sewing market in India is largely determined by leisurewear and our culture celebrates all year round. The meetings may be less and fear may remain, but people will still want to party, because that is what our lives are about; with caution and social distance we will party again sooner or later. I also believe that fashion based on the values of authenticity and pure craftsmanship will survive. As consumers become more and more aware of the role that sustainable fashion can play in creating a better future, the demand for natural textiles, refined craftsmanship and reasonable luxury will increase. At the same time, the aim will not only be to support local craftsmen and small businesses, but also to supervise a wardrobe that will last for years and remain highly relevant throughout the process, Rahul added.
The designer Gautam Gupta of the Asha Gautam label in a second. Sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion will receive the most attention. More functional or versatile clothing can be expected to take up more space in fashion. The value of the money will be a mantra for the masses, Gautam said.