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Fashion insiders on how COVID-19 has made them rewire their fashion choices

From Karuna Ezara Parikh, Diipa Khosla, and Arshia Ahuja to Aishwarya Nair, fashion insiders tell us how COVID-19 compelled them to initiate a change in their lifestyles and fashion choices.

The current pandemic has forced fashion to rewire its functionings. Sustainability as a concept needs better understanding and consumers have to be thoughtful about their choices. Besides this, industry creatives and designers are expected to rethink their pace of rolling out collections and be sensitive towards all stakeholders in the demand-supply chain. Here’s what a few fashion influencers and industry experts have to say about fashion and COVID-19.

Cecilia Morelli, Co-founder Le Mill

COVID-19 and fashion
Image: Courtesy Le Mill

Fashion has been inching towards an approach of buying less but buying better for some time now. And COVID-19 forced that change to happen sooner. We have always invested in brands where we felt that the items sold were long-term investments. Pieces that were either so innovative as to become instant classics. We are committing to those who have coalesced around Dries Van Noten’s pledge, to break this cycle of discounting. I sincerely hope that we can enter a new slower phase in fashion, where we buy less, but we buy better. And that means that we buy less on sale also.”

Aishwarya Nair Mathew, Founder ALIGNE Studio

Image: Courtesy Aishwarya Nair Mathew Instagram COVID-19 and fashion
Image: Courtesy Aishwarya Nair Mathew Instagram

“I reckon COVID-19 has brought in the whole world to a more conscious state of awareness. How can we live our lives more meaningfully in the present? My focus is on things that will last longer. When I created my fashion label ALIGNE two years ago, the focus was on conscious consumption. It has been an effort to convey this message, but this situation has compelled people to honour the idea of timeless pieces in one’s closet.”

Diipa Büller-Khosla: Influencer

Image: Courtesy Diipa Büller-Khosla Instagram COVID-19 and fashion
Image: Courtesy Diipa Büller-Khosla Instagram

“During this pandemic, I have definitely had the time to actually look at my closet. Instead of engulfing into an online shopping spree, I actually found existing pieces in my wardrobe that I styled and reused in a different way. I’ve had the time to get creative and find new ways to wear things! In terms of my style, I am swaying towards a more minimalistic approach in fashion, thanks to COVID-19.”

Kaabia & Sasha Grewal: Founders Outhouse

Image: Courtesy Outhouse COVID-19 and fashion
Image: Courtesy Outhouse

“We’d say reset, reboot, and rebuild. It is time to take a step back and introspect your choices, their implications and consequences on the world around us. As purveyors of fine jewellery, we believe in empowering and uplifting local art, and the artisans who create it. Our artisans have always been the soul of our brand, and we continue to support skilled craftsmen”.

Shyma Shetty: Co-founder, HUEMN

Image: Courtesy Shyma Shetty Instagram COVID-19 and fashion
Image: Courtesy Shyma Shetty Instagram

“This situation begs to rethink definitions of consumerism, aspiration, and luxury; and requires a breakdown of every step of the process to streamline a more conscious future. As an eternal optimist, I do think that we are on the brink of a new world where technology and mindfulness can both be harnessed in equal measure. For us at HUEMN sustainability is so much more than fabric choices and requires a deeper understanding of our buying and wearing patterns, our social responsibilities and awareness of supply chains.”

Merrylin Boro: Model 

Image: Courtesy Merrylin Boro Instagram
Image: Courtesy Merrylin Boro Instagram

“I think it has given us all the time to look inwards. This has forced us all to stop and re-evaluate our choices by stopping the noise and clutter. It’s made me fall in love with fashion again. Needless to say, I have found a new meaning in supporting sustainable brands and local businesses.”

Karuna Ezara Parikh: Poet and entrepreneur

Image: Courtesy Karuna Ezra Parikh Instagram
Image: Courtesy Karuna Ezara Parikh Instagram

“The clothes are an imperative part of creativity and adornment, but the sheer volume of them we have begun to own in recent years reeks more of greed and display. Perhaps this time will help change that. I certainly hope so! In June, I came to the end of an entire year’s attempt at not shopping for clothes. I decided to try doing this as an experiment because I learnt just how much the fashion industry was harming the planet. With our outings curtailed, the display of “outfits” also takes a hit, and I hope that more of us will in turn question what items we really need, and how sustainable our clothing choices are in the long run when the superficial structures of our world crumble away.”

Spardha Malik 

Image: Courtesy Spardha Malik Instagram
Image: Courtesy Spardha Malik Instagram

“I have been on my sustainable journey for almost two years now, and this time has only strengthened my resolution. I’m more driven than ever to consume less, consume better, and to shop local. As most businesses are badly hit, #VocalForLocal sentiment has truly hit home with me. I’d much rather give my business to a homegrown, mindful label than take it to an environment-polluting fast-fashion conglomerate!”

Chandni Sareen: Founder The Ikat Story

Image: Courtesy Chandni Sareen Instagram
Image: Courtesy Chandni Sareen Instagram

With the way we rethink our spending habits in this unprecedented time, it does not mean that we have to curb our sense of style because fashion is not about your capacity to spend. We’re not expecting people to be going out to shop as much anymore for a multitude of reasons, all of which point towards making more long-term choices in what you buy. I keep aside a budget to indulge in some shopping every now and then, and I use it to support homegrown labels. My label, The Ikat Story is a part of the same movement. Our clothes are a labour of love and are made to last, with each garment living its own life.”

Arpita Mehta: Founder Arpita Mehta Label 

Image: Courtesy Arpita Mehta Instagram
Image: Courtesy Arpita Mehta Instagram

“Being conscious has become a top priority, thanks to COVID-19, be it in fashion or any other industry. As a designer, it’s always been quality over quantity for me, but at the same time with the current situation sustaining oneself has become crucial. Having said so, one thing that yet stays the same is quality over quantity. What we, as a brand, promote is rather buying one thing over 10, but purchase something that you will keep with you forever. This is a phase, and one should remember that this too shall pass. So as a brand, while we have gone into keeping in mind a conscious consumer, the product is the same, and the ethos stays the same.”

Arshia Ahuja: Model 

Image: Courtesy Arshia Ahuja Instagram
Image: Courtesy Arshia Ahuja Instagram

“I am more inclined to buy sustainable items; something with longevity and something that isn’t harmful to me or the planet. Because of COVID-19, I am rethinking the fashion choices I have taken. I am doing DIYs and experimenting with my husband’s old jackets, and learning to stitch watching YouTube — the goal is to shop less and be get creative with what we have.”

Fashion insiders on how COVID-19 has made them rewire their fashion choices

Anupam Dabral

Sr. Associate Editor

It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

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