The pandemic has completely changed our daily life. It has also bought in multiple challenges and new rules for the retail business. With social media pages dedicated to working-from-home wear and the rising popularity of hashtags like #WorkFromHomeOOTD, the new age Indian millennial has now become curators of fashionable face masks, matching loungewear, and colorful comfy home slippers.
Let us, deep-dive, into how these new lockdown trends develop further and moreover, what will happen to the Indian fashion industry post the pandemic?
We are now in the middle of adapting to a completely new world. With this unprecedented calamity and work from the home situation for more than a year now, all of us are valuing our possessions (more than ever before) and have started to rework our priorities. All of us have started believing in sustainability with the basic principle that less is more.
Consumers have started to opt for a multi-functional approach where wardrobe pieces can be reused and repeated by adding accessories.
The crisis has pushed us all to reassess our values, question our relationships, and re-work our work-life balance. Take me, for example, I recently cleaned my wardrobe and I realized that I might have multiple well-made classic multi-functional pieces for every occasion but the reality is that I have now become (more than ever before) more focused on buying sustainably-made items and generally buying less.
We are seeing everyone from the millennials to the Gen-Z going back to their house dress or pajamas. We all know that work from home is here to stay (for a long time to come), and the balance is tilting in favor of work-life integration.
We will see more and more Indian customers adapting to fashion that allows them freer expressions - a dramatic shift towards smart casuals and comfortable clothes over expensive formals and high-end blazers or even Indian wear.
Moreover, with malls and stores being shut, retailers are adapting to a new normal of online stores making e-commerce vital for survival. However, it a win-win situation for both retailers and consumers. Both were forced to become tech-savvy to ensure safety while shopping without going against the social distancing protocol.
Online shopping is convenient as it saves time, energy and gives the benefit of return and exchange in a hassle-free manner. Price comparison from different sources is also easier and since all of us have adapted to the new mantra that less is more, we are no longer lured by the upselling salesperson and indulge in impulsive buying which ends up in overconsumption.
Other challenges include cut-throat competition and the demand-supply hitch. Retailers have to continuously work on innovative strategies to stand out in the competition and maintain the supply as per the demand and vice versa.
In spite of these challenges, the rules are that they always have to be well informed about the local competitors, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, analyzing what works or does not work, and research how similar businesses are functioning. This will help them to avoid the mistakes they make whilst discovering new relevant trends that can be implemented into their own business.
Attracting new customers while keeping their existing clients happy is also a big challenge. One can address this via social media and advertising as these are the key to spread the word about multiple retail businesses. Creating flexible payment terms and adopting an online sales platform is also the need of the hour.
Lastly, as retailers are reworking their production strategies, they are also working on smaller collections manufactured with less waste whilst respecting worker rights. Fashion consumers have become really cautious of the societal and environmental impact of clothing. When receiving their order, and they prefer bags and boxes made from biodegradable, recyclable materials, after all, the surging popularity of ethical textiles is part of a broader shift towards the circular economy.