New Normal

Designers try hand at customised masks to keep head above water

Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, July 11

It is mainly the gatherings where people love to dress up, no? But with the get-togethers down to naught amid the pandemic, the fashion industry has endured severe blows. Weddings have been scaled down big time and parties have vanished into thin air. This leaves designers with the task of evolving and adapting themselves to a whole new set of clientele, especially those with a taste for relatively modest clothing. As softer linens and pastel shades replace heavy golds sequins and embroidery, the designer masks are the new fad for a clientele choosing face masks that also match their attires.

Shelja Dureja, one of the leading designers in Jalandhar who has an illustrious Bollywood/Pollywood clientele — including Jyotica Tangri, Alnaz Nirozi, Avantika Handal, Raj Dhaliwal and Sargun Mehta — has taken to social media to illustrate her newest line during these testing times. Meanwhile, designer Hiten Nanda and Punit Arroa have both unveiled a collection of customised masks for grooms. Designer Bhawna Pushkar Sandal has embraced a bevy of pastels and nudes in soft linen, khadi textures to cater to her clientele who no longer prefer the gaudy, larger than life pre-Covid apparel anymore.

The professionals are striving for survival by rolling out innovative ideas to keep the supply chain going and are somehow managing to rope in the clients. Designers Arora and Nanda have been offering customised masks with every high-end apparel they design for the customers and this is helping them repackage Covid attire to suit the times of the pandemic. Social media use has also shot up in a bid to gain clients. Nanda even disbursed thousands of masks for free, just to to send across the twin message of both upscaled safety and fashion during the crisis.

The autumn-winter season is one when the weddings hit the crecsendo. However, with weddings a tad of an episode the designers say that the number of virus cases plays a major role in clientele’s decision to go for a big fat celebration and enagage them for a big bash or keep it a low affair as the ones witnessed in the ripe months of the lockdown. Moreover, their NRI clientele pack has been deeply impacted by the pandemic as most of them are stuck abroad.


Speaking Out

Due to reduced social distancing and unavailability of models, I am my new model. I post pictures with new dresses. Though business has been impacted— thanks to social media my followers have climbed to 18,000 during the pandemic. This has also translated to buyers. — Shelja Dureja

The basic Indian economy relies heavily of gatherings. During Covid, however, this basic premise for dressing up is gone. The NRI clientele has been hit hard. However, on the flip side the time until August is always a lean period for us. The November weddings are still on and we hope they will sustain us. — Hiten Nanda

A bit of care and setting up some protocols can help us tide through the crisis. We are setting up safety protocols for employees and reviewing our logistics and supply chain to ensure resilience. Also, incentives and discounts to customers as well as empathy goes a long way during this time. — Punit Arora

With the pandemic, I am surprisingly getting a number of working class people, IASs to other working women as clients. People prefer their own safe fabric being sewed into a dress at a safe boutique. Clients are opting for soft linens and pastel shades. They want simpler, non-fuss clothing. — Bhawna Pushkar Sandal

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