The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown spared no one. From our daily lives to businesses, everything was disrupted. The fashion industry was no different. While the lockdown did put a halt on shopping expeditions, it also gave rise to the ‘new normal’ fashion trends!
Veteran fashion designer Monisha Jaising agrees that pandemic effects were also on luxury fashion industry and related trends. “Since people are working from home, they prefer comfortable clothes. You don’t have to dress up daily to go to work, so people wear formal shirts as and when they have a video call and they wear either pyjamas or track pants at the bottom as it’s not going to be visible.”
Rashi Menda, the Founder & CEO of the brand IS.U, talks about how work from home made comfortable fashion the buzzword. “Athleisure, flowy silhouettes, baggy and pyjama fit, and loungewear are the breathable styles we all have swiped right upon.”
Designer Surbhi Pansari backs her colleagues on the industry shifting to relaxing and easily maintained sustainable fashion. “Now that the country is slowly unlocking and wedding season is on, the festive spirit of clients could be seen as they walked in to pick up something for their celebrations. Customers are going for classic timeless apparel that can stay in their wardrobe for years.” This includes desi styles like tailored kurtas, Pathani, Jawahar Jackets, and such.
Siddhant Agarwal, Founder, Siddhant Agarwal Label, does mention being more experimental with his style during the pandemic. “My designs are bold, electric and very comfortable and I feel it’s here to stay for a long time.”
Matteo Lambert, Chief Collection Manager, Bata India, confirms more focus on durable products offering protection including essentials like comfortable footwear and clothes big on fashion quotient. “We have witnessed more traction for our comfort and active wear range. However, with the festive season on, demand for fashion footwear has also increased.”
The design outlook too transformed. Rashi acknowledges that with many fashion-related sectors shutting shop indefinitely, the industry underwent many crippling functioning changes. But their spirits stayed high. “Currently, the style commandments are focusing on eco-friendly, sustainable, comfortable silhouettes, and trans-seasonal closet choices. Opting for essential wardrobe pieces with the multifunctional value that can be reused in multiple ways without missing the style beat.”
Apart from the environment-friendly aspect, Jaising mentions, “Before, the need of the hour was more production, designs and variety to choose from. Now, we are all slowly moving to lesser production and creating the right designs for the right occasion. So now the designing is all about targeting the right people with the right product.”
Matteo feels consumers choose need-based shopping with simple and convenient designs. “The industry took time, patiently listened to what the consumers needed, and rolled out products suited to their changing needs. We also found out that while working from home, people often tend to skip wearing footwear altogether, and that can actually lead to foot pain and also expose feet to infections. We responded by curating a range of WFH footwear that people could wear throughout the day and keep their feet cosy and comfortable.”
Surbhi feels with the eradication process coming soon and bringing in positivity, clients are trying out styles and embroidery. “There was an emerging desire for designs that were simple yet bold, comfortable yet chic. With minimal embroidery work and use of sustainable material, are the small ways in which the design outlook is changing. The need of the hour is to be stylish and comfortable at the same time.”
Several fashion trends in the lockdown and unlock period made a mark. “The biggest one is the vital new accessory — mask. No look is complete without a trendy matching one. With no updates on vaccination, the pandemic had a huge impact on our lifestyles. Mask has become a general necessity and will only rise with time,” Siddhant says.
Surbhi feels these trying times mean finding ‘the wisdom and comfort in classics’. “I would recommend men to embrace fabrics which are easily washable at home. It gives a purpose of hygiene which is of utmost importance in such time. All you have to do is get yourself up and get dressed. It will definitely lift up your spirits if not completely turn your day around.”
As per Rashi, styles like print on print, denim looks, colour blocking, floral prints, polka dots, puff sleeves, etc. ‘are making a strong comeback’ and will stay for a while.
Fads seen by Jaising were Ghunghats, masks with chains and matching masks with Indian clothes. “Bling and flared kaftans along with twin sets and saris were also a trend that took the limelight during Karva Chauth and Diwali.”
Matteo saw many ‘become conscious about their health and fitness’, thus increasing demand for related products. “This trend is interesting, because during the lockdown we observed the sale of sneakers and active wear footwear doing relatively well. We believe this trend will continue for the coming year as well as people continue to invest in health and fitness.”
Future design and trends
With 2021 approaching, the industry’s design approach will continue. Jaising mentions, “The trend of comfortable and affordable fashion may prevail for a while and people will dress up only for occasions. And not to forget the masks! Which obviously we don’t know how long we all have to continue like this but it will be taken forward.” Rashi adds, “Earlier, fashion was just considered as light-hearted fun but thanks to the revolutions that happened over the years that has changed the game. It has now become a form of self-expression, impacting our identity in society.”
Surbhi agrees. “A few trending colours this season are Marmalade, Flamingo, Powder Blue, Sunflower Yellow etc.” Siddhant states, “With us locked inside the house for such a long time, the new work wear is the loungewear. Comfort and quality has become the priority with strong emphasis on sustainability.”
It will be a while for things to normalise, says Matteo. This means demand for casual and active wear continuing. “The industry will accordingly strive to keep things simple and casual for the coming year. Designers will go back to the very basics and create products that have greater utility; however innovation and creativity in design and concept could be the real differentiator,” Matteo adds.
It is safe to say fashion in 2021 will rise like the phoenix.