A tale of 3 artists and their journey through the pandemic
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A tale of 3 artists and their journey through the pandemic

Businesses who depend on retail stores for sales have come to a standstill

A tale of 3 artists and their journey through the pandemic

New Delhi: It’s a difficult time for the fashion industry as they navigate through the troubled waters. The revenues of the apparel business have shrunk significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The businesses of India’s local designers who depend on retail stores for their sales have come to a standstill. Sales have come to a halt and weavers and craftsmen are facing wage loss.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a crisis across all the businesses barring those of essential commodities. Fashion sector has been picking up in the “slow fashion” market internationally, but with the coronavirus uncertainty, no overseas orders will be forthcoming as it has disrupted the entire supply chain of the textile sector. Many local fashion shows where designers used to showcase their collections are totally shut down.

Let’s know how Covid situation is impacting some of the local fashion designers from New Delhi.

Industry has also taken a hard hit. From fashion weeks getting cancelled to stores being shut for months, the industry is now looking at ways to adapt to the current scenario. To evaluate the impact on the fashion industry, we talked with fashion designer Amit Verma, who has been a part of the fashion industry for over 15 years and organised many fashion shows as well.

Amit Verma, fashion designer

CitySpidey: Looking at the current scenario, how is Covid-19 impacting the fashion designers in New Delhi?

Amit Verma: The picture is looking unwelcoming! Currently, most of the fashion designers rely on occasional wear. It has been all about weddings and celebrations and these festive occasions won't be so frequent now. So, that is going to be a big problem until things go back to normal. The Indian fashion designers are going to have a tough time.

CitySpidey: What will be the impact on the bridal-wear market?

There's one school of thought here which is the saving grace I think. When a wedding happens, the key characters of the family will always be there. The bride, the groom, parents, sisters, brothers, etc. They will always be a potential buyer. Of course, the functions of a wedding will be less and there will be fewer guests. Let's say from a thousand guests it gets to a hundred at weddings. And, when it comes to the guests, not everyone buys something new for a wedding. So, it has impact on bridal-wear too. I would say at least 12 months! And, even if we expect things to get better, it will never be the same, for sure. We might get back to 70 per cent of what the Industry was by next year, may be.

CitySpidey also talked to Poonum Nagpal, who is a Delhi-based fashion designer and owner of a boutique called Tehhzeeb Collection.

Poonum Nagpal, fashion designer (Tehhzeeb Collection)

CitySpidey: How do you think the pandemic has hit the fashion world?

Poonum Nagpal: It is true that fashion does not fall under the category of essential commodities, but at the same time, clothing is one of the highest revenue generators since we need clothing for various occasions, all the time. But having said that, cash flow will be low now and there will be less disposable income to spend on non-essential or 'fancy' items of clothing. I used to showcase my new collection in many Delhi fashion shows and used to get new customers but now because of pandemic situation, that totally got shut.”

CitySpidey: During the last few months, how have you been working from home?

It's really tough for occasional wears, as you want to see the finish and touch it. Fashion is all about the experience, to go to a store, try, feel and drape! So, I don't know how online is going to replace that? It's a feel and touch experience! But you know how to survive and what to do for the future like having an online presence. I've been working on things like exclusive showcasing and sending clothes to my clients, who don't want to come  to a boutique. So, I send them some designs and they want me to design. That’s how we’re adapting to new normal.

Further, CitySpidey had a conversation with Neeru Thakur, a fashion designer from Delhi (Aks Studio) to know about how the pandemic has impacted her.

Neeru Thakur, fashion designer (Aks Studio)

CitySpidey: How has the pandemic affected your business?

Neeru Thakur: There is a huge loss of orders for a season due to cancellation of many big events. Existing orders stand cancelled or payments were delayed or deferred. People are not willing to visit  and there have been no sales at the boutiques. There is no cash flow and there is a big liquidity crunch and the designers are facing additional pressure of paying salaries to employees and craftsmen. There are no funds to resume manufacturing, trading, and sales, and cash flow is needed for raw materials, utility bills, and taxes.

Talking to some of these designers revealed that they feel the business model needs to change because the world will probably adapt new ways because of the persistent coronavirus situation.