There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on many industries, including the Indian ethnic wear industry. During the peak of lockdown, the buying power of the average consumer had reduced considerably. Consumers gave basic necessities like food, medicines, and the likes their priority. Fashion became need-based. The Indian ethnic wear industry relies heavily on ceremonies and special occasions - with marriages, festival gatherings getting canceled - occasion-specific fashion definitely took a hit.
Work-from-home defined new parameters of fashion. Fashion became guided by comfort, sustainability, and affordability. Most of our Indian silhouettes are well suited for home wear or what we call leisurewear. Soft cotton clothes made consciously by brands were preferred over fast fashion clothing like jeans, crop tops, etc. The pandemic has definitely created a shift in people’s mindsets. Consumers are becoming conscious buyers - they want to invest in clothing that can last longer, that supports the Indian artisans as well. The quality took precedence over quantity ever since Covid-19 hit us. We are more mindful and active in our decisions of what we are purchasing. Thrifting clothes, wardrobe capsules, and Indian-based affordable fashion picked up. With malls, markets and bazaars shut - the entire shopping experience shifted online. The brands that worked on online platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Shopify boomed whereas the brands that are predominantly offline take a huge hit.
At the grass-root level, however, the Indian artisans struggled enormously. These art forms and processes are passed down as lineage to these artisans and their livelihoods completely rely on their art. A lot of designers and heritage brands employed several Indian artisans. Since most of these designers and brands were present offline - their stock kept piling and so the artisans didn’t receive many new orders. These artisans also heavily relied on offline exhibitions happening in metropolitan cities. They usually save their best pieces to showcase in these exhibitions - since exhibitions stopped another source of their income had come to a standstill. This is when younger Indian brands like us - The Indian Ethnic Co. stepped in and decided to buy their best products, by gradually gaining their trust.
We at The Indian Ethnic co. have grown as a company during the pandemic. When the strict lockdown was enforced, we had no staff, loads of pending orders, and courier services were also affected. All of our processes had slowed down. Our family-run business needed all hands on deck, so we divided the processes amongst ourselves. Irrespective of the long days, we wanted to keep the momentum going and that’s exactly what we did. Lockdown rules were different in all parts of the country - there were some places we could ship to and some we couldn’t, despite these restrictions, we didn’t stop taking orders, we kept all the orders ready and shipped them as and when we could. We are fortunate to have some really loyal and understanding customers that were patient with us. Personally for us, the Pandemic also creatively opened us up to newer ways of marketing. We finally executed our idea of dance and clothing coming together. It is true that adversity enables invention.
The pandemic has certainly left its imprints in big ways. It has created shifts on a collective level. We essentially are living through a huge incident that will go down in history. We truly believe that from here on we will reimagine and reinvent our ideas of consumerism, fashion, and culture.