While most businesses are either facing or set to face the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown, the fashion industry is set for a re-invention, pushing for the ‘vocal for local’ call by the Prime Minister. Amritsar, a fashion hub of Punjab, where tradition has always found a perfect partner in global trends, too is undergoing a transformation in the post-Covid-19 world. It means major home-grown designer labels have found the perfect opportunity to develop a sustainable, co-dependent market to keep the business going.
Starting from scratch
Bhawna Sajdeh, who has been running her label Kasbah, says the road to revival of local fashion industry must be inclusive and focused on the basics. “It will be like starting from scratch, with focus on inclusive growth and not just profits. It’s challenging but not impossible.”
She says that since re-opening, she has been taking limited orders. “My label specialises in wedding trousseau but now we are thinking of creating cost-effective attires. Doing business with local suppliers and working with local artisans will support the community,” she says.
Himani Arora, whose label has been featured in several fashion magazines, also bats for responsible and sustainable fashion. “For a long time the fashion industry was moving at the break-neck speed. This pause should be good for us to re-invent as a responsible and inclusive industry. When we make clothes, we have to think about our dyers, our cloth vendors, suppliers and karigars. We were always co-dependent, but now we need to be sustainable. Using locally manufactured and sourced fabrics, working with local karigars, making pieces that are timeless and shunning designs that require wastage—are some of the simple measures that can go a long way.”
Cutting down on expenditure and moving towards affordable couture, most designer studios are looking towards casual prêt. “Usually, this is the time when we get ready for the wedding and festive season. But due to the recession and Covid-19 outbreak, weddings are not happening, so the bulk orders for clothes are not coming. The next best option is to create casual wear collection, clothes that are simple yet appealing and affordable,” says Sargun Seth, owner, The Closet.
Mehak Gupta, who had just launched her label Laaj a week before the lockdown, says that re-branding is the new mantra. “I had launched as organic-only collection of clothes. Now, it’s about making cost-effective clothes that would prompt clients to invest, despite the recession.”
From walk-ins to on-call
Dealing with clients has also transformed as social distancing becomes the new normal. “Earlier, we would prefer walk-ins for measurements, detailing and designing of the outfit. Now, everything is decided either on a video call or WhatsApp,” says Sargun Seth, owner of the Closet. “We try to maintain as much social distancing as possible.We have cut down on our staff. Also, we make sure to dry clean our clothes before delivering to the client.” She hosts most of the clients in her studio by appointment only.
Himani Arora too takes orders on appointment basis. “We carry out sanitization in our premises daily and every member of my team makes sure to wear masks and follow the safety protocol.”
Mehak Gupta too takes her orders on video calls. “I have to show the clients sketches of their dress before getting approval and eventually designing the outfit to avoid any wastage.”
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