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BW Businessworld

Pandemic An Opportunity For Fashion

Fashion will always exist – just that it will move away from being ‘momentary’ to ‘functional as well as practical’. Its time to think literally out of the ordinary, to ease supply chain, make provisions for on time deliveries, create designs

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The world seems to be adjusting to a ‘new normal’ without a choice, the Covid-19 outbreak is still wild and rampaging around the world, and if we go by the most generous estimates, we are at least still six months away from the vaccine. However, while with amidst this and the worst possible is yet to come, the unlock has begun. People have started coming out of their homes after being locked for over six months, albeit wearing masks, gloves and carrying pocket sanitizers. The world seems to be adjusting to a ‘new normal,’ and learning to live with the virus given there isn’t any defined timeline to reach normalcy. Naturally, the fashion and retail industry is expecting demand to surge, and hoping to bounce back to the pre-COVID-19 state with festivals around the corner and some weddings being announced although largely frozen. 

With social distancing becoming the norm, it limits the number of customers that can be present inside store premises, potentially impacting sales. However, what is also potentially an opportunity in these times, where many can follow a diversification strategy and simultaneously reduce their dependency, if any, on China. In such a case, Covid-19 has proven to be an opportunity for India to present itself as a credible alternative to increase its textile and apparel export share. Since the pandemic started almost seven months back, Indian manufacturers and exporters for fashion have received an increasing number of enquiries — mostly from the US and the European Union — seeking to replace China as a supplier. This upward surge is likely to see a positive impact as the Indian fashion and textile industry provide livelihood to many people—weavers, dyers, tailors, designers, exporters, raw material producers. 

I am bullish that the pandemic will leave India with a big opportunity to trade globally and certainly, with changed behaviors as a result of Covid- 19, the way fashion is perceived has already begun to change. Fashion will always exist – just that it will move away from being ‘momentary’ to ‘functional as well as practical’. Its time to think literally out of the ordinary, to ease supply chain, make provisions for on time deliveries, create designs (to suit value & a wow factor). Planning inventory of stock to deliver to countries overseas while anticipating unevenness in cash flows will decide the success of the opportunity we have at hand. Also, India is an ocean of the world’s best textile manufacturers and capable craftsmen. India is known for craftsmanship and accurate handwork; and also for embroidery worldwide. This also offers us a cutting edge globally to showcase the talent and importance of handwork. Thus, creating job opportunities for local artisans under the Vocal for local initiative. With sentiment against China, India is likely to be the next-bigpreference for imports. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has been truly a “black swan” event all across the globe and ushered in major changes to different aspects of life. While some of these changes may or may not be permanent, certain tectonic shifts in industries like fashion are inevitable. If ever there was a time for fashion to reinvent itself, it is now. There is, however, no need to panic—it is estimated that shopping online will replace instore shopping, hugely, especially for big brands and international labels.

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.


Monisha Jaising

Founder, Monisha Jaising

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