New Delhi: The second wave of the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown brought the fashion industry to a standstill. Production and sales were severely affected by the temporary closure of manufacturing units and stores. However, Delhi designers have now become more optimistic as a result of the ease of restrictions.
‘We opened just a few days ago and business has been encouraging. I’m surprised to see such numbers already,’ says Rahul Mishra. Likewise, Gaurav Gupta says, ‘Couture clients were waiting to visit the store in Mehrauli and my other store is getting decent footfall as well.’
After a hiatus, the stores have reopened with utmost safety precautions. ‘People were locked in and want to feel normal once again. The stores are following safety protocols, are well-ventilated,’ says Namrata Joshipura. The designers also ensure that the garments for trial have been sanitized.
In an effort to entice shoppers, some offer rare discounts. Mishra says, ‘We don’t give discounts usually, but stores were shut for two months. So we are offering off on certain pieces for a week.’
However, many still encourage virtual meetings to maintain social distance. Suneet Varma says, ‘People are getting more comfortable buying digitally, especially the NRI and international clients. But a few personalized appointments are also there.’
Although there are only a few clients at any given time, digital sales are averaging higher conversions. Gupta also suggests combining offline and online appointments. ‘Before fixing an offline meet, all queries and concerns are considered to lessen visits to the store,’ he adds.
In spite of reopening, some designers face difficulties because artisans are hesitant to get vaccinated, taking the onus of vaccination upon themselves. Anju Modi says, ‘Kaarigars went back to their villages and are coming back now. We have to get them vaccinated.’ Likewise, Joshipura feels this is their responsibility. ‘Some kaarigars are afraid to get vaccinated, but we are assisting them in getting slots booked,’ she says.
Nonetheless, the abrupt break has been a moment for many to pause and reflect, including Modi, who said, ‘We have taken this time to restructure our way of working. We are doing more in-depth research, thinking of holistic ways, consuming less and becoming more conscious of the wastage.’