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5 Indian Designers & Creatives Share Their Thoughts On The Ongoing Pandemic

In the face of the crisis that COVID-19 presents, everything remains unpredictable. But seeing the patterns, one can trace the reverberations that will be felt long after it will be over. With manufacturing, sales and the multiple facets of an industry which thrives on contact coming to a standstill, fashion faces an uncertain future. Long before the 21-day lockdown imposed in India, designers and labels took it upon themselves to pivot toward flexible working situations—teams started functioning remotely, virtual meetings became the new routine and stores closed doors as footfall dwindled. Amid the growing concern and a lockdown which is new to any of us, five Indian designers relay their thoughts on the new present and their hopes for the future. Excerpts from interviews conducted over email. 

Sanjay Garg, Raw Mango

Image Courtesy: Sanjay Garg
Image Courtesy: Sanjay Garg

“We must acknowledge that things are changing on a day to day basis and we must action things sensitively and proactively, keeping in mind the well-being of all. At Raw Mango, we have teams across retail, design, admin, in-house production and regional weaver clusters—all operations have been suspended indefinitely. We are trying our best to strategize and reflect on our offerings for the future by working from home—which is definitely new for us! Now more than ever, we need to re-evaluate how we choose to live and not abuse our resources. The concept of sustainability has more than often been discussed in the context of fashion but what about incorporating it in our daily lives? We must identify with ‘restraint’ as an overarching approach and advocate a certain degree of austerity by taking only as much as is needed.

It's important to remain indoors, social distance as much as possible and above all listen to our health officials—at this time this is our best solution. Things will change once this is hopefully behind everyone; at this moment we should try to determine what we can do to be helpful in this time of global crisis. Meanwhile, like many others worldwide, try to creatively use your time and keep yourself occupied. Everyone is affected by the pandemic. For now, we must sit back, hold tight and weather this together.”

Laksheeta Govil, Fizzy Goblet

Image Courtesy: Laksheeta Govil
Image Courtesy: Laksheeta Govil

“It helps in knowing that we are not alone. Retail has taken a hit as following all WHO guidelines, we have closed our stores but our customers' and employees' welfare is a priority. Companies need to focus on taking every step in doing their part to curb the spread of the coronavirus. We earlier teamed up with HelpAge India to help the underprivileged and elderly and donate health kits on every purchase made. Helping and doing our part is the only way to move ahead. The learnings from this are to be nimble and adapt according to situations. Yes, this is unprecedented, but we are lucky to be in a position where we can support our employees today during this period of uncertainty. We are all practising social distance and working from home which is absolutely necessary. Through our Instagram, we hope to create a space that can be used for breaks and as a distraction. Keeping that in mind, we have created activities for the following days which we hope may provide some relief to our Fizzy Goblet community in these times.”

Sunaina Khera

Image Courtesy: Sunaina Khera
Image Courtesy: Sunaina Khera

“As we all know, it is a situation that requires each one of us to act responsibly for the greater good, which is exactly what we are trying to do. The need of the hour is to slow down, to follow the government directives and be there for our teams. Before the lockdown, a handful of us worked to wind up prior commitments and orders, while the rest of the staff was given paid leave. I hope and wish everyone stays healthy and sane during this time. It is definitely a very hard time for us all as individuals and businesses but if there is one thing I have learnt, it's to have hope, to come out of this stronger than ever before.

For the first time in a long time, we are learning to prioritise things differently and I feel nature wanted us to do that. My mother always says that beautiful things come out of the worst of turmoils. I’m hoping the same follows in this case."

Saaksha & Kinni

Image Courtesy: Saaksha & Kinni
Image Courtesy: Saaksha & Kinni

Covid-19 is massively impacting business these days. Well before the lockdown, stores had zero walk-ins due to social distancing which then led onto the service chain in the larger sense— fabric manufacturers, printers, dyers, tailors and more. The need for the hour is to overlook difficulties in terms of work and focus on the community as a whole and not transmitting the virus further. Our learnings are that there is always a solution to a problem and that health is paramount above all else. Our staff is self-quarantining as advised by health care professionals. As directed, it is important to self-isolate.

Let’s use this time of social distancing to be more socially responsible—recycle and rewear clothes, engage in slow fashion and value what is really important in life— health, relationships, and the environment. 

Ruchi Sally, Melissa India

Retail business is directly getting hit with Covid-19. Even before the lockdown, malls saw a substantial reduction in footfalls so March has been very quiet and unusual. I foresee this to continue for another few months or more, given the history of pandemics in the world. The need of the hour is to be realistic and act immediately. To support the precautionary measures taken by the government, our team is working remotely from their homes. Since this is a moving target, we are aware that we may need to continue this as the situation progresses. It is difficult finding a balance between the grim realities the world is facing and the aesthetic nature of our businesses. This situation is worrisome and it's important that we take all the measures to control it knowing what has already happened in other parts of the world. Don't panic but don’t take it lightly either. Act wisely. 

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