She is self-taught textile designer and an artist from Ahmedabad. She design exquisite fashion items in line with her brand’s aesthetic messaging.

While the Indian apparel and fashion industry has faced challenges in the past year (because of a combination of the pandemic impact, shift in advertising and marketing budgets, shift of using channels to reach out to the customer, rents for warehouses and stores, etc.), it has been on a path of steady if slow growth over the past few months. It also might be too early to really quantify the coronavirus toll on our retail and fashion sector, the pandemic has certainly shaken some of the industry’s foundations. The pandemic has also made all of us realize that in this world of uncertainty, we really need to be conscious of our own requirements. This pandemic has given rise to a brand-new world – a world we are still coming to terms with, trying to understand, decode, and in some sense, make peace with.

The priorities for fashion have changed, we are now witnessing a multifunctional approach towards fashion. Wardrobe pieces that that can be repeated and reused in multiple ways will be in demand in the post COVID era. Most of India’s local designers are small business owners who employ less than 100 people. The coronavirus outbreak has left those designers especially helpless, with close to no sales, salary loss and some major employee layoffs. Moreover, even the raw material producers, weavers, dyers and tailors in India’s fashion retail industry are especially vulnerable. The Indian textile industry depends on product demand to sustain the livelihoods of its craftsmen; with the market stalled, the situation is growing increasingly dire. The harsh truth is that most of employment in the Indian textile and clothing industry is in the informal sector, which generally pays much lesser wages than the formal sector. While the pandemic has affected both formal and informal sectors, the impact will be more disastrous for workers in the latter.

“The manufacturing processes should be optimised to consume minimal to no water. Most of the water consumed in the manufacturing process flows out with very high levels of contaminants”

Moreover, consumer sentiments and demands have also taken a radical shift. It has affected the over-all fashion choices for consumers. The most important shift we see in the fashion industry is how comfort clothing had become the new pandemic trend. Maintaining consistent sales when people are watchful of their spending and buying things that are only necessary instead of splurging on luxuries, is quite a challenge. Pandemic‘s second wave has shut down physical spaces and E-commerce presence is now vital for survival. This in turn has made both customers and retailors tech savvy and they are now looking for new shopping experiences through technology, as web shopping gives them the experience of shopping without the fear of getting infected. This is very convenient as it saves time, energy and is in line with our government’s social distancing norms.

Additionally, Indian shoppers are now happy to try shopping via the digital space as web shopping gives them the benefit of return and exchange in a hassle-free manner. Price comparison from different sources also becomes easier and since all of us have adapted to the new mantra that less is more, we are no longer lured by sales person and indulge in impulsive buying and end up in overconsumption. Keeping this in mind, all retailers must be innovative to stand out in the competition whilst offering something exciting to retain the interest of customers in their brands. Indian retailers must also have knowledge about the local competitors, carving out a niche that sets us apart and identify our strengths and weaknesses. In order to open up new ideas in the market and analyse what works or does not work, we must research how similar businesses are functioning, what mistakes to avoid and discover trends that are working which can be implemented into our own business. We need to attract new customers while keeping our existing clients happy. Social media and advertising are super important channels to spread the word about our business. Creating flexible payment terms and adopting online sales platform is also the need of the hour.

Brands are also reworking their production strategies. They are now working on smaller collections manufactured with less waste and respecting worker rights. Consumers of fashion have also become really cautious of societal and environmental impact of clothing. When receiving their order they prefer bags and boxes made from biodegradable, recyclable materials, after all, the surging popularity of ethical textiles is part of a broader shift towards the circular economy.