Fashion industry reinventing itself

Acclaimed designers Varun Bahl and Nachiket Barve and city-based models talk about the fashion scene in pandemic

By Author  |  Published: 31st Jul 2020  6:29 pm

There was a time when fashion shows would happen every other weekend, but now that’s a thing of the past. Covid-19 has affected the retail and fashion industry in more ways than one can imagine.

With loss of jobs and pay cuts, people are thinking twice before spending money. Interestingly, people are choosing basics like T-shirts, jeans, athleisure and even secondhand clothes over trendy clothes. Fashion historians point out that even the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and the Second World War affected the way people dressed.

According to a new survey, 85 per cent of Indian consumers prefer online shopping over physical stores or malls. “It is a difficult time for everyone and we need to maintain a positive attitude. Although not big affairs, lots of weddings are still happening in our country and people are placing orders. Online shopping has become the trend, but in Delhi customers are slowly coming to stores and malls as well. The situation might get slightly better by first quarter of 2021,” says designer Varun Bahl, who has designed clothes for celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor.

“I think online fashion shows would be a good option for designers to showcase their collections,” he adds. Case in point, Dior recently presented its Cruise 2021 show online.

“Fashion is losing its relevance because nobody wants to get dressed and sit at home and watch Netflix. Fashion is a social affair,” feels Nachiket Barve. “The pandemic has affected the supply chain at every level. So it’s a difficult time for everyone. Online fashion shows are not the optimum solution as nothing can replace going to a show. But till the time is safe, it’s the next best option. We don’t want to be adventurous and put everyone at risk,” adds the designer who has worked with the likes of Janhvi Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez and Kajol.

Fashion shows with no-guests policy may become the new normal internationally, but what about our country? “I miss walking on the ramp. I am mostly just doing catalogue shoots with fewer people. The fashion industry is in loss because people are not going to the stores and even we aren’t able to do promotional activities,” says model Madhushree Gupta.

“I have been doing one project for Gaurang Shah. Shoots are different right now — the team wears masks, the makeup artists are cleaning the brushes and we are all maintaining hygiene. We are hoping fashion shows will resume in 2021,” adds the model who has worked with brands like Kalanjali, H&M and Marks & Spencer.

Model Andleeb Zaidi has done close to 20 brand shoots post the lockdown. “I used the lockdown period to workout and prepare myself for the shooting season. We are following all precautions while doing these shoots. Fashion shows are not safe right now, so I guess we’ll have to wait for 2021 for things to get back on track,” says the model, who has walked for Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani.

Shaik Rafi, fashion choreographer and CEO of Empire Model Management, concludes, “Before Covid, we would take care of 4-5 shoots per month, but now it’s just 1. We are all multitasking as we’ve reduced the staff. There’s just 1 photographer and makeup artist for each shoot. Even in Hyderabad, we can think about organising in-house shows without audience. We should take precautions and test the designers, models and photographers.”

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