Can’t stop fashion: on physical stores opening up and innovative strategies being adopted by brands

From Manish Malhotra’s collection

From Manish Malhotra’s collection   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Over 70 days of closure has been tough on retail and fashion hasn’t been spared. But it is interesting to note how a few brands have been quick to innovate or get back on track. Digital fashion weeks are being planned and in India, Lakme Fashion Week has launched a virtual showroom that they say will be a marketplace for both designers and artisans who are grappling with high inventories. As for the opening of physical stores, some designers like Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango and Payal Khandwala have bravely gone ahead.

Manish Malhotra

Manish Malhotra   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Besides ramping up their e-commerce and digital presence, and offering WhatsApp styling consultations, these designers (except Sabyasachi who only has contactless pickups at his Delhi and Hyderabad stores) have begun encouraging shop visits by appointment. They are confident that all protective measures will be followed, both for their staff and clients. They are also ready for the wedding season, even if it’s going to be only small, intimate affairs for now. We spoke with Malhotra, 54, who says he took the lockdown in his stride. “I became vegetarian and reduced my tea and desserts, walked a lot on my small terrace at home, went through my phone to look at previous work and enjoyed my mornings in silence." More from him:

On reopening his stores and getting used to slow business: With more than 70 days of everything shut, there is definitely a huge loss. I have not permitted any layoffs, and there are rents to pay with no income coming in. On May 22, we started our store in Delhi and Hyderabad. We only take clients on appointment and I can see it is going to be slow. But by October, wedding orders will come in. Even if weddings will be smaller, the bride and the groom will want to dress up!

Can’t stop fashion: on physical stores opening up and innovative strategies being adopted by brands

Safety measures in changing rooms: Opening our stores is not as much about business as it is about sending out that positive vibe, even to my own fraternity. I want to encourage them to open their stores too. Every person at our stores will wear gloves, and we will discourage fittings. If the customer insists, the sanitised garment will be placed in the trial room, and after trail, it will be sanitised and returned to the floor only after four hours.

Gucci’s tennis strategy
  • Italian luxury house, Gucci, has continued its expansion into the gaming realm with a Tennis Clash collab. This means an exclusive wardrobe (both virtual and otherwise) for players of the mobile game, as well as an in-game tournament, the Gucci Open. A good diversion for tennis fans, what with Wimbledon cancelled? Meanwhile, French fashion major, Louis Vuitton, has just expanded its Art of Gaming line (proud owners of last year’s LV Jenga set, take note). The Billiards table and Le Babyfoot (foosball table at approx ₹50 lakh onwards) feature the house’s traditional leathers or canvas and hand-painted balls and coins. Perhaps all that time spent indoors fine-tuning the home bar must have fuelled the demand for games that match up?

A new collection of separates: I am in touch with our craftsmen in Benaras, Kashmir and the Mijwan Welfare Society (he has been associated with them for over a decade) and will see to it that they constantly get work. But I am planning a collection of separates that is true to my ethos of celebration, glamour, intricacy, joy and yet be affordable. Borders, fabric, and intricate embroideries that I have collected over the years will be used. A lot of mix and match is going to be in fashion. For instance, someone will like to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s heirloom sari with an interesting top or jacket from us. And yes, we are doing a series of masks with this collection.

Time to look inwards: I asked myself, what is it that I wanted to do but have not had the time. First, to introspect and look back at a journey that was 30 years of non-stop travel and work, from 22-hour work days for the movies to weddings to collections to fashions shows. I lost my dad in November, and I wanted to spend quality time with my mother. I also wanted to address my weight issues, which I had overlooked for two years. So from that perspective, the lockdown has been refreshing for me.

Discounts elsewhere
  • London’s Harrods, like many retailers, has addressed the pile-up of excess inventory with Harrods Outlet, a new pop-up store for its upcoming summer sale. Premium multi-designer stores in India like Ogaan and Ensemble have also introduced sales.

Dressing up post lockdown: Looking good has its own therapeutic influence on your mind and soul. I have been saying that ‘trend-less is the new trend’. Even if it is a small gathering of five friends, I see people dressing up. It is about gratitude that we are fine and with our loved ones, especially after these months of fear and disturbing news.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 8:04:29 AM |

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