The fallout of coronavirus has impacted the world economy with devastating consequences. India, at its no mercy has been hit significantly by the pandemic causing various concerns including health hazard, GDP slowdown, large scale migration of workers and unemployment. The surge of the epidemic spiked unemployment in the country from 8.7% in March to 27.1% by the week ending on 3 May, 2020 (Source: CMEI Reports). Corresponding fear in the population regarding their health has remained unfortified in addition to consecutive lockdown strategies unfurled by the government to minimize the effects of the virus.
Owing to its dispensable nature, fashion industry in the midst of the calamity is exposed for its weaknesses. However, forging ahead with hope and positivity, the article puts light on the consequences of the crises along with the existing gaps in the industry and suggests how it could revitalize itself, inside-out.
Unemployment, being the foremost setback of coronavirus has petrified this industry’s workforce. Amongst the different domains of this sector, artisans and craftsmen have been superlatively affected. The impact on the artisans and crafts community is grave, as they predominantly rely on daily wages, causing loss of skills in the nation at present and rise in poor standard of living. Furthermore, survival of impoverished workers with no jobs available is further contributing towards GDP slowdown.
Consequently, millions of job layoffs in other industries would lower the disposable income of the country. This would lead to significant declination in the purchasing power of the economy. For majority of the population, the immediate need to spend on apparel has fallen, let alone the need of luxury in fashion. Minimal/no expenditure on Apparel & Accessory would become the survival mechanism for the majority of the nation, as the affected population would prefer spending on essential products. Therefore, the prominent agenda for the brands is to figure out - when would the consumers want to buy and what would the consumers want to buy, if at all they would.
In regard to the repercussions of unemployment, it is anticipated that people could prefer to choose purchasing relatively inexpensive products. This translates to easier disposability of these items as lower prices yet higher quantities would overshadow higher prices with higher quality for households with lesser disposable income. But the drawback of such pattern of consumption is huge on the planet as well as on the supply chain. This is because, low priced products use non eco-friendly materials that scale-up environmental pollution during the production as well as when they are discarded. More so, the production of such products majorly exhibits lesser wages to the workers in regard to less prices charged. It is important for the nation to adapt to a healthier purchasing culture by either buying less but buying better.
Possessing contrasting implications of the pandemic, there will be groups of people who would be inclined towards impulsive buying. On the contrary, there would be consumers who would be more conscious in their buying behaviour. Lesser disposable income would escalate the value of the product for consumers leading the brands to yield purposeful beliefs for retaining more customers.
To attain progressive growth, mutual concession between brands and customers cognizance is required to embrace the sweeping changes in the fashion society. This particularly demands for crucial modification in the fashion business models and buyer consumption. Exceptional reformation in fashion business models of creating successive collections is the prime amend necessary for continuous amelioration of the planet and our nation. Customer’s full support is indispensable to strengthen the economy and the variegated communities of the industry. At the same time, consumer buying is essentially important in these times for the brands to sustain their businesses.
From the foothills of the Himalayas to the tip of Kanyakumari, Indian crafts and textiles have one of the most traditional weaving techniques and beautiful patterns. Many international luxury players outsource Indian techniques in their processes of production. Exuberant collections of Gucci embellished with nature’s elements of birds, flowers, butterflies, jungle and tiger to Jennifer Lopez’s Amazonian look of jungle print from Versace’s 2019 runway to embroidered saddle bags of Dior and Prada’s Madras bags are just a few examples.
The value of rich cultures of Indian craftsmanship has been appreciated and demanded internationally, but it has come with the cost of our local industry’s name being swept under international labels. Unfortunately, at times, Indian consumers too have failed to recognise and value our own craft. For them, it has meant high prices of products with lesser gravity towards higher wages of weavers and crafts people. Significant proportion of Indian consumers have preferred buying renowned labels in the case of high price tags in a home grown label product.
Despite the hit of coronavirus in India, unemployment, low employment security of daily wage workers, consumption of the quantity over quality and disregard of homegrown labels over internationally renowned brands has been witnessed commonly. Moreover, the consequences of the pandemic could be seen as the “perfect storm” for the Indian fashion luxury industry to resuscitate and re-invent itself for enduring growth.
Our nation needs to be delineated towards acknowledgment of the natural calamities that plunders the planet as an impact of a consumption. Transparency on the environment and social impacts of an expenditure could lead the consumers towards a better approach in the direction of not just quality products, but also towards the well being of the prestigious communities in the economy. For this, fostering “Make in India” could boost millions of rural-based livelihood possibilities, and upsurge in employment within the nation. This would be one of the positive development that our economy needs today to secure a sustainable growth. On the other hand, this could be viewed as an opportunity for Indian fashion industry to have inherent purpose on a larger ground. It is very important to build a strong ecosystem for the industry to generate growth that could render increased scrutiny about fair wages, working conditions and improved standard of living of artisans and craftsmen along with long term satisfaction to the needs of the consumers with long lasting quality products.
Kamakhyaa evaluates the foregoing circumstances and aims to further empower “Make in India”. We focus on giving our bit in turning the industry’s weaknesses into strengths and stimulating the strengths and turn them into distinctive competence. Our platform aims to bring together a community that would help uplift themselves in regard to coronavirus as well as the depleting environmental challenges of the planet. In the longer run, we plan to educate and promote ethical buying and promote transparency about the brands and its ethos to the customers. We have joined hands in this enterprising initiative to support local businesses.
Kamakhyaa welcomes aboard the communities that understand the magnitude of these weaknesses and wish to take a step towards long lasting growth of the Indian fashion industry. Come and be a part of us, let’s have faith towards having a better and a shared future, let’s celebrate the power of our desires and dreams!