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BW Businessworld

'The New Longing' Raghavendra Rathore

“Are brands, retail, fashion, or personal being pigeonholed into pedigree slots, much like the Royal gun salutes cryptically embedded during the British Raj that would dictate the order of a Princely State”

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LET THERE BE LIGHT “AND there was light…, post Covid-19 one would happily attest the proverbial line with different importance, as a genre that we all have been warming up to over the last decade, therefore saying “let there be only social media” won’t come as a surprise but possibly become the only mantra going forward. A bubble or here to stay, either way, its impact on the world of fashion cannot be ignored. 

A question worth mulling over however is whether Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for relying more on this vast virtual space that certainly does not dictate ‘social’ distancing. As we digitise our experiences, we simply parcel them back through Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and others, hence slowly making this ‘sharing’ a social prerequisite and societal norm of sorts. The intent behind this remains relative, but the underlying thought is the same – engagement, outreach and eventual profit – profit in sales, likes, comments, in increase of followers and in the number of views. 

Especially for creators and for experience providers, the race is now focused on engaging your tribal followers and get them to appreciate your message regardless of revenue it brings back. Without a doubt, the new currency seems to be the number of followers you can influence. Are we letting social media dictate a brand’s standing? Are brands, retail, fashion, or personal being pigeon-holed into pedigree slots, much like the Royal gun salutes cryptically embedded during the British Raj that would dictate the order of a Princely State, right from sequence seating in order of power to a chanced meal with the Queen. Are we heading for a similar hierarchal map of our society? 

The advantages, however, are exponential too, through social media the economy of production, sampling or prototyping can be controlled like never before. Thus decreasing investment in an idea, an enormous stock buildup of a product or communicating your message through expensive alternatives have changed and can now be beamed out by a single post. For those who have built a brand, mustered a loyal following, and have something on offer, your tribe will continue to follow you as long as you engage with them and understand them quick enough – in an age of instant gratification, being ahead of the new trend, is the new trend! 

Technology in today’s lifeline can accentuate and build layers of value for an idea or a product through clever algorithm that watches every move of the consumer. It is constantly evolving to understand the consumer’s habits and feeding data for those creators who patiently siphon through this digital gold. In other words, the migration to digitisation is the largest of any exodus seen by mankind. It might not be a geography as such but it is no doubt a new world that every day millions of people are migrating to, an opportunity in a true sense for those who understand the medium. 

So what will be the new world that we will gradually get used to like post- Covid? The conception of ideas which eventually could become products and services will be inspired by social activity on ‘social media’. Limitation of travel will force visionaries to look through their screens into various facets of our social fabric. Catering to customer needs through engaging products that resonate in what people are conjuring up on social media will become the trend. Efficiency and investment in the backend to provide a smooth experience to sell ideas or products will be essential, things like ‘try for 15 days, satisfaction guaranteed or feel free to return it’, investment in safe hygiene courier partnerships, new ways to let customers experience the lack of touch and feel will have to be sought through with need-based social activities products will also have to be re-calibrated accordingly. 

Cycles that once were based on seasons (summer, autumn, winter, and fall) will also see a new order come into play which will be governed principally by the consumers, who will demand correction in how resources and processes are used in creating and manufacturing of products. Even if this phase lasts for a year or two, the impact of these subtle changes will become part of new business plans and provisions that every young entrepreneur will incorporate in their business journey. In other words, insurance companies will dictate new terms keeping the makers of products on their toes and governments will too have a larger interplay between the submitted tax returns and the social media posts. With everyone and every industry mingling on social media, there will certainly be no room for social distancing, in other words, can one ever be ‘immune’ to it–fashion or otherwise covid has become a carrier of change.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Raghavendra Rathore

The author is well-known Indian fashion designer

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