Andhra Pradesh

Boutiques lose their sheen as COVID plays spoilsport

Women shopping for designer clothes at a boutique in Visakhapatnam.

Women shopping for designer clothes at a boutique in Visakhapatnam.  

In the olden days, the royal families of Bobbili and Vizianagaram would spend around ₹3 lakh on designing blouses and dresses for their women members for weddings and other special occasions.

Now, with restrictions being imposed on the number of guests to be allowed, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they have also reduced their expenses to a few thousand rupees. Similar is the case with other high-profile customers who have a penchant for fashion design.

All this has had an adverse impact on fashion designers, who had established boutiques spending heavily keeping in view the demand from customers. Each boutique, which used to employ 10 persons, now has only two workers, which indicates the drop in business.

An average boutique used to earn around ₹2 lakh a month and after payment of wages and other recurring expenses, they used to earn an income of ₹50,000 a month. A boutique used to engage at least 10 skilled workers from West Bengal and Bihar, paying each of them ₹650 to ₹700 a day for intricate blouse designing on the ‘maggam’. But now, they are finding it difficult to even pay the wages for two workers.

The trend of designer saris and blouses caught the fancy of women in the city a couple of decades ago. In the past, they would go to Hyderabad to get their blouses designed for special occasions like weddings. The advent of ‘maggam work’, about 10 years ago, ushered in a new fashion trend in the city.

Young women found it a lucrative business venture, and set up their own boutiques after pursuing diploma and certificate courses in fashion designing. They were doing good business, until the coronavirus came along.

Today, there are an estimated 200 boutiques in the city. Around 100 of the boutique organisers formed an association and named it ‘Mayukha Women’s Fashion Designers Association’.

“We design the blouses as per the choice of the customer. We were doing good business before the lockdown was imposed in March. We conduct fashion shows once a year to showcase the works of the association members,” said B. Lakshmi.

“During the lockdown, we supported the maggam workers by giving them food and accommodation. We had also arranged to send them back home with the help of philanthropists,” she said.

The association appealed to the State Government to support them financially to help them tide over this crisis, or at least offer them some work on behalf of the government.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 8:27:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/boutiques-lose-their-sheen-as-covid-plays-spoilsport/article32234512.ece

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