Pratishtha Rana

Fashion brands will have to get creative with their inventory as people will buy fewer and better clothes, feels fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani. The industry will not only have to worry about driving sales at affordable price points but also ensure that craftsmen continue to get work.
As most fashion units are closed in this crisis, production and manufacturing cycles have been disrupted. A special panel discussion at Stimulus 2020, a webinar conducted by The Global Luxury Group, Crosshairs Communications (PR Partner) and WIN (Women Inspiring Network – Content Partner), discussed the ‘Challenges for Made in India Fashion Brands’.
Tahiliani along with Abhishek Agarwal, Founder of Purple Style Labs, and Nonita Kalra, Editor, Harpers Bazaar India, exchanged views in the panel discussion. Below are the excerpts-
Read here what other luxury players have to say about business during COVID-19. 
Are consumer preferences going to change post the lockdown?
Tarun Tahiliani: I feel that if people are going to buy less and buy better, which I hope they do now and get over the silliness of not re-wearing an outfit just because it is already seen on Instagram, I think it will change the way we engage with clothes and fashion and go back to considering things as a little more precious than just concerned about the looks of it. This dark time has really made people think about the consequences of all this, where in the past everything was only based on ‘fast, fast, fast’. Now, everyone has to make a choice.
Tarun Tahiliani
Tarun Tahiliani
We are so used to dealing with the top end of luxury that we don’t think about the other things. Now, we have to think more creatively and cleverly. I believe the aesthetic and mindset of wanting heavier, bigger and more is soon going out to go out of the window for sure.
Abhishek Agarwal: Value buying has been on the cards for a long time now. Matching price points doesn’t necessarily indicate that the product is cheap. It is just about getting the right value of a commodity. Purple Style Labs is closely working with designers, especially with Tarun’s team. We are constantly trying to narrow it down to a certain price point, which will match the design, quality and will also become more affordable for a larger group of buyers.
Will we see more collaborations, mergers and acquisitions in the future?
Abhishek Agarwal: Whenever there is turbulence in any business, mergers and acquisitions are bound to happen. Some people would have a certain balance sheet and targets to shut or expand their stores. At the end of the day, it is all about stabilising supply with demand. So, every 10 to 20 years, you would see such events happening. The only difference this time is that industries everywhere are facing the same situation together. In the case of fashion, the back end of the business will see a lot of changes in the coming 12-18 months.
Abhishek Agarwal
Abhishek Agarwal
Tarun Tahiliani: I think globally, the scale of businesses is much larger, hence, acquisitions and mergers will be quite prominent there.
Will we see more growth in the online selling space?
Abhishek Agarwal: In the last four weeks, anybody and everybody who is in the business of e-commerce will tell you that by default, without investing monetarily, website traffic has abruptly doubled. But the increase in traffic does not necessarily translate into transactions. It is a natural human tendency that after being in lockdown for the past 6 weeks, the first thing shopaholics would do is to shop as much as they can.
Tarun Tahiliani: We should definitely do a big ‘Indian buy’ campaign to boost our own economy.
How would manufacturing take the hit? How are we going to manage our craftsmen?
Tarun Tahiliani: We are going to try and do things consciously and ensure that more (production is done) by hand in order to keep these craftsmen employed. We really want to try and get people back up slowly. But for this to happen, we need to have a strong demand for the handcraft.  Because it will be even worse to bring the artisans on-board and then inform them of having no work to give.
Somehow, we also have to think about taking things out of Delhi and Mumbai into rural India, if we can organise ourselves. So that they can work closer to their homes with more security and a better life. But again, all of this really depends on demand.
Fashion designer Payal Singhal shows us how to make DIY masks, check it out. 
How is the print media planning to help businesses, especially in the fashion industry?
Nonita Kalra
Nonita Kalra
Nonita Kalra: What people forget about fashion magazines is that they were created to grow retail appetite. And Bazaar magazine, with a 152-year-old legacy, got its name to indicate a place where you go to the shop. Every fashion magazine’s job is to grow retail and it’s how they target their audience. Magazines are also looked at (as a source of) inspiration, and they will continue to do what they’ve been doing, which is to create desire.

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