Lessons of 2020

With a tough year coming to a close, a few fashion designers share their biggest takeaways both personally and professionally. By Team Viva

The year has overturned our lives in the most unforeseen manner. There were numerous difficulties to survive and tough lessons to be learned; we can at least find a bit of solace in the knowledge that these challenging times have led to personal growth. Below, a few fashion designers share their biggest takeaways from this unusual year.

Designer Asha Gautam says, “This year will always be remembered in history for various reasons. We can’t ever take the pain, suffering and losses that people across the globe suffered due to COVID-19 and at the same time it also taught us a lot of things. We started valuing life more, we spent more time with family, we valued environment more, we all became tech literate and valued the importance of being a responsible consumer.”

“I can only say about myself and I did learn the entire above very well and also changed a few things of how I look at my work now. Being an ardent lover of craft, especially Indian handmade textiles, I was worried on what will happen to it as the weddings and occasions were getting confined and due to social distancing the demand was surely going to take a hit. We did speak to a few clients, especially whose weddings were due in 2020 and took feedbacks. The response was mix and lot of weddings that were scheduled for April happened in July with restrictions. The next dates were in November and everyone was clueless as to how many weddings will happen and of what nature,” adds she.

Once the lockdown got over and clients started coming, Asha realised that at least some weddings will happen. One takeaway came from the shopping pattern where many families preferred heritage pieces than FAD’s and it was a delight to see the value heirloom pieces still have on Indian consumers. “Though we always believed in it but the response was reassuring. This is not only a takeaway but a lesson for life that no matter what, our roots will always play an important role in our life. Similarly our Indian textiles (handmade) will also make an important role in wedding wear irrespective of what happens in the global fashion scene,” says she.

Asha says that though the demand was picking up but it was nowhere near and there was still a lot of sluggishness. “Then we started to introspect as to what all can be done. No inter-state travel was happening, no NRI clients coming, plus limited gathering was making a huge impact. This made us go back to the drawing board and think as to how to connect with more clients. We always had a reservation of luxury selling on e-commerce but slowly we realised that the clients want to connect virtually. They were doing video calls, asking for images and sending queries on Instagram, which made us do something we never thought i.e. starting an e-store. We started working on it in June and by July end, we completed it with all the old images. Yes, the use of technology does help and now we are able to bridge a gap between us and the consumer, irrespective of the location,” shares she. Now, they are able to get in touch with their old clients who stopped coming due to location issues.

This step also made the designers learn marketing better. They were able to identify that there is a pattern, price and product segmentation, which happens when one is doing e-commerce. “‘Student for life’ is something I always live by and is happening now in a big way. We realised how there is a demarcation of product and price with different age groups, how a millennial engages on social media and how a mother of the bride still prefers to wear the saree before buying. The phrase ‘quarantine wedding’ has changed the pattern of ornamentation and use of textiles as well. The magic of a NRI bride doing a video call, seeing the entire collection, taking suggestion and also approving designs is really amazing. The digital integration also helped us in expanding our design portfolio as we introduced our prêt collection of kurtas which was overdue,” Asha says.

“The response has been phenomenal and now we are adding more affordable segments keeping intact our love for crafts. Our vision is to make Indian crafts a significant part of global fashion and with the e-store, we can see that happening sooner or later. We also want to market our textiles digitally and make it reach to a larger audience. The time we got was after five years of no holiday and this made us also realise the potential, the collaborations and the relationships we have made which we can leverage out. The emergence of the new possible market has also made us develop designs which are not geographical bound and the creative team is rejoicing more,” adds the designer.

“Past four months a lot has changed in terms of mindset, design development techniques, positioning and undoubtedly, these have been a big takeaway,” says Asha.

For designer Leena Singh, pandemic came as a teacher. “We have begun to appreciate the smallest blessings. I feel like the biggest lesson I have got is to live in the present and not worry about the future. Today, everything is so terribly in the air and no one knows when will we find normalcy again. This year, I also came up with my new collection Umme Rabab, which is a tribute to karigars who were struggling and trying to cope with the changes this pandemic has brought to all our lives. Our brand Ashima Leena tried to support them in every possible way and stands in solidarity and in gratitude towards them. As we face challenges, we are also given an opportunity to re-invent, re-imagine new and improved ways of working. I feel whenever there will be a challenge or obstacle, we will find ways again and again to face them and work around them. It is imperative to support one another in difficult times like these,” shares Leena.

Well, certainly, this year established itself as a teacher to the entire world.

Source: The Pioneer

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