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2020 A Year Of Shocks

2020 A Year Of Shocks

In January 2020 as the world welcomed the New Year, little did anyone realise what the global conditions would be like for the rest of the twelve months. Suddenly India and the world came to an abrupt standstill when Covid-19 struck with such force that humanity was left shocked and quite unprepared for what was going to unfold. On March 24, 2020, India announced a total lockdown, which caused havoc amongst the citizens both rich and poor and for small and large businesses. — By Meher Castelino

Social distancing, limited guests at parties and weddings, closure of stores, offices and businesses created misery in the lives of professionals as well as humanity in general.

The fashion business that has been one of the biggest earners in the domestic and export markets came to a virtual standstill. It depended on migrant artisans who were now jobless, penniless and were trudging on foot back to their villages, through the summer heat as the industries shut down.

Designers struggled to pay their staff, as business reached zero levels. Moving into online mode, designers tried to unload cancelled orders and unsold garments. There was an avalanche of discounts from designers, brands and retailers but the locked-in-their-homes as well as ‘Work From Home’ corporates didn’t need clothes but hoped to hang on to their jobs. As the months passed by and lockdowns were gradually eased around the states, the fashion industry emerged hesitantly from its forced hibernation. The first digital presentation by the Fashion Design Council of India with the India Couture Week 2020, which featured twelve designers over six days unveiled their opulent bridal and festive wear with which they hoped to resuscitate the fashion business. The virtual shows were eagerly witnessed on multiple platforms by thousands of viewers in the comfort of their homes from September 18 – 23.

This was followed by the very successful LOTUS Makeup India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021 season by the Fashion Design Council of India from October 14 – 18. Lakmé Fashion Week immediately followed with its Digital First Season Fluid Edition from October 20 – 25 on digital platforms. The fashion films of 4 – 10 minutes were slick and imaginative, while the collections were creative and at times immediately available to buyers in India and globally. The virtual concept of online marketing was aggressively undertaken by both the fashion weeks as virtual showrooms were created to enable buyers to order. Designers as well as fashion websites offered online sales with hefty discounts that brought the fashion business crawling back after the pandemic blow.

Designer Payal Singhal had a constant stream of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and website posts that informed her customers about the various discounts and the many collaborations the designer was doing with food, drinks, footwear and accessories. “I’ve been thinking of the way we are all going to dress now in

protective gear etc. and actually thinking of ideas and innovation in that space. The one lesson I have learned is always to keep your expenses limited to your needs,” informed Payal Singhal.

Designer Tarun Tahiliani ensured that his label mesmerised the buyers globally on Instagram where he announced the arrival of his new creations, accessories and jewellery for men and women and was the first to hold a digital show on Instagram in July with nearly 80 garments. “I think the consumer online will be buying more because they don’t want to go out but they will buy more casual things or saris. Very fit-specific things and stylised clothing that we do, is a little problem online,” stated Tahiliani.

While clothes were not important for men and women since the stay at home rule discouraged party dressing or corporate styles, it was personal grooming and beauty treatments were dearly missed by both sexes as beauty parlours and salons shut shop – some permanently and expert hairstyles and beauticians were suddenly jobless. Six months of unkempt hair forced many to try their hand at haircutting and beauty treatments with disastrous results. Hair dyeing was impossible as ravishing brunettes slowly turned into grey haired dowagers. Skins paled, due to lack of sunlight when cooped up at home and methods for home remedies, facials, beauty treatments and kitchen recipes were the most searched online. With masks a ‘must wear’ accessory lipsticks languished in beauty boxes, while eye shadows, eyeliners and mascaras sales soared high online.

Lakmé Absolute even launched 48 shades of shimmering eye shadows with a Masterclass by Namrata Soni make-up expert at Lakmé Fashion Week 2020 and concentrated on the eyes even for the models during the digital fashion films. At the LOTUS Makeup India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021 the LOTUS Makeup Beauty Show by the brand with three make-up artists – Anu Kaushik, Vidya Tikari and Joy Goswami unveiled different looks for five inclusive faces in three themes. Webinars and Instagram chats were the order of the day and it was imperative to look video-genic virtually for a Zoom or Google Meet seminar with the right highlights, concealers, eye shadows, and lipsticks that were perfect under the Zoom lamp.

Home service started shortly as the lockdown eased and buildings allowed visitors to enter. Hairdressers and beauticians made home visits and soon had an appointment diary over flowing with work. Suzie Tan the top hairstylist of Touch of Joy Salon, which closed down permanently during the lockdown now makes house calls and is quite busy cutting and styling men’s and women’s hair. Asha Hariharan’s ‘Beyond the Fringe’ salon was locked down but stated; “Now clients are coming for high-end services like colouring or straightening but avoiding several small visits so we have downsized our services. Small salons however have taken a big hit.”

For the glamour industry to make headway and show sales in the fashion and beauty segments will take some time as people gradually move into their normal lives. Great hopes are pinned on 2021 for sunny days!