"No one has the stomach or heart to spend.”
COVID-19 popularly known as the Coronavirus has caused major disruption in the fashion industry. As the pandemic spreads, the impact will heighten.
This global pandemic has not only affected health, but it has also greatly impacted all aspects of daily life. Normal life has been turned upside down.
During this difficult time focusing on anything that is not basic necessities certainly seems bizarre.
As a result of this, the fashion domain and Indian fashion designers have taken a large hit.
We explore how stores, wedding fashion, fashion shows and the level of support to fashion workers have during the Coronavirus.
Retail Store Closures
With the growing concern of the Coronavirus, the government in India took the decision to close non-essential businesses.
Unfortunately, this meant retail stores were forced to shut their doors in order to keep their staff and customers safe.
While trying to ensure people are kept safe, the income of retailers is certainly affected.
In such matters, fashion is a secondary factor and is not necessary for people to continue with in a matter of emergency.
However, this also affects workers’ and designers’level of income as they cannot continue to work as they usually would.
According to Vogue India, Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani, who has celebrated 25 years in the fashion industry expressed his concern. He said:
“Brace up. It is a new world order. The principle of [avoiding] large public gatherings had to be adhered to and already restaurants, stores, airlines everything is seeing a dramatic drop in their numbers.
“If people are going to stay home, I cannot imagine them wearing much more than sweats or shorts as you must be right now. They are hardly going to dress up in a nice dress.
“So, I think there is no question about it, that it will have a massive fallout that we cannot even imagine.”
Despite, fashion retailers being readily available online, during such a crisis it will be unlikely people will want to purchase clothes.
The lack of income will result in people consciously spending their money on necessary items such as food and medicine.
Indian Wedding Industry
Desi weddings are lavish affairs which are greatly regarding in the South Asian community.
Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the wedding industry has come to a halt. This includes the fashion sector.
Whether it is a bride placing their order in India or the UK there is any uncertainty of whether their wedding day lehenga will arrive on time.
This is because workers have been told to leave work as production has stopped.
The Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in social distancing and self-isolation as countries like the UK and India have gone into lockdown.
This means people must stay at home with their family members and have been instructed to leave their houses as infrequently as possible.
Not to forget, many of the lehenga embellishment like the beads, pearls and stones are bought from China where the virus originated.
In turn, this reduces the supply of such necessary items required to make a wedding day ensemble.
UK-based Jaz, who is a bride-to-be expressed her concern over how the Coronavirus has impacted her wedding dress. She explained:
“As an upcoming bride, the coronavirus has really left wedding planning at a standstill.
“The uncertainty that this leaves is overly stressful.”
“The biggest concern is wedding outfits as these need time to be prepared. Boutiques have closed and shipping has stopped and this leaves things nor here nor there.
“Even one of the consultants I saw at a particular bridal store mentioned how this would take a toll on business as the stones and beads needed for the intricate work on wedding outfits are originally sourced from China.
“With the virus starting there, this will have a knock-on effect on the whole process of production. All in all, the coronavirus is hitting the wedding world with a bang.”
In a bid to combat the Coronavirus, weddings have been cancelled to avoid mass gatherings which will increase the risk of the virus.
Delhi-based designer, Tarun Tahiliani, has acknowledged how wedding cancellations have affected business. He said:
“The cancellation of weddings and special occasions have affected the couture business because couture is worn mostly for very special occasions.
“As they get cancelled, everybody from the caterers to designers to the jewellers will get affected.
“Nobody feels like spending and there has been such giant destruction of wealth, that even if you are immune to expenses designer clothes, no one has the stomach or heart to spend.”
Fashion Shows Postponed
India has joined the growing list of major international fashion shows which have been postponed due to the Coronavirus.
These include shows like the Tokyo Fashion Week, Beijing Fashion Week, Dior Cruise Show and many more.
India’s Lotus Makeup Fashion Week has been postponed. The show was scheduled to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from March 11, 2020, to March 15, 2020.
The chairman of the Fashion Design Council of India, Sunil Sethi, confirmed preparations for the fashion show were set with over 80 exhibitions stands in place.
However, with the growth of the Coronavirus pandemic has prevented large mass gatherings. According to WWD, Sethi said:
“It was a tough decision. We did think about getting masks for every person who attended and hand sanitizers everywhere and if we had the facility to do the kind of screening that is done at the airport it would have been a different matter.
“In the end, it is a financial loss but public safety comes first. The board and I had to make that tough call.”
There is no denying this decision was a disappointment for many India designers. Although, they understood the requirement of such a step. Indian designer Samant Chauhan said:
“Buyers are concerned and have been worrying about travel and what is the point of fashion week without buyers? It is best to be safe for them as well as for us. This situation cannot be helped.”
Typically, such fashion shows bring it great revenue for the economy. The fashion industry in India is one of the largest businesses at home and worldwide.
There is no denying the cancellation of such high-profile fashion shows will take a toll on the economy.
Amidst the chaos caused by the Coronavirus, business production has come to a standstill.
Unfortunately, as a result of this employees and craftsmen are unable to continue with work. Undoubtedly, this leads to financial worry for many workers.
On Monday, 23 March 2020, Indian designer Anita Dongre took to Instagram to announce her brand will continue to support workers financially. She wrote:
“A lot has changed in the last few days. Our interactions. Our work. Our relationships.”
“All faced drastic upheavals. Upheavals that can include unforeseen medical emergencies in the coming days.
“Among the people who are likely to be most affected by these changes are the small vendors and self-employed artisans who contribute to the work you love and admire.
“Considering the swiftness of the crisis, we recognise that many of them will have resources available to cover a potential medical emergency.
“It is for this reason that the Antia Donge Foundation has decided to set up a dedicated fund of INR 15 Million, to support any medical treatments arising during these troubling times.”
This amazing initiative has been mirrored by several other Indian designers including Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani, Anamika Khanna and more.
On Instagram, Mukherjee confirmed that he continues to pay his employees during the pandemic. He said:
“We are shutting down every single one of our factories and will pay our employees for as long as we can.”
The Coronavirus has certainly affected Indian fashion designers and all the workers who were associated with design or production.
During a national state of emergency, fashion is surely the last thing on people’s minds.
Essentially, this has affected Indian designers financially and mentally as the uncertainly surrounding the crisis is unknown.