What buyers thought of country's first virtual fashion week

Updated: 27 September, 2020 08:27 IST | Shweta Shiware | Mumbai

The pandemic has left us no choice; either we do it digitally or don't do it at all. These are challenging times, and ICW is a first step towards inciting a feeling of OTT decadence, that couture is not cancelled.

'Thrust on bridal, not couture, made our job easy'
Mohit Rai, co-founder and co-stylist, The Wedding Style Project

Watching shows on URL isn't the same as experiencing them first hand. Indian couture is all about textures and hand embroidery, about interactions between the silhouette and body. As stylists, Aastha [Sharma, project partner] and I need to be able to feel and touch the outfit, and process it visually. Video calls, close-up images will take you only so far. Unless the bride does not try out the outfit, she is not going to buy it.

That the collections veered exclusively to commercial bridal outfits [rather than couture pieces], did make our jobs as wedding curators easy. Hopefully, by next year, we will get to see more couture evening pieces.

I liked: Amit Aggarwal delivered the message with a lot of artistry. It was also good to see Manish Malhotra slow down and return to his design roots. It was a grand display of wedding wear on film.

'Clients will buy the designer they trust, online'
Smita Shroff, co-owner, Elahé, and Aakriti Shroff, in-charge, e-commerce

Smita

Smita: It's impressive that the designers managed to come up with new collections during lockdown, inspiring a new mood. I can't help but feel proud.

Most summer weddings were shifted to end of year dates, and we will see buying pick up now. After months of uncertainty, the customer today, I think, has made peace with COVID-19 and is working around health restrictions.

The digital platforms, whether to show or sell, are better suited for those designers who have built a reputation in the market. A client's trust in a brand is important when s/he shops online. Designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Anamika Khanna raise that quality bar, so clients are assured that these designers will deliver what is showcased online.

Akriti: Digital shows and e-commerce and social media are different mediums to present look-books, but the real buying happens only on WhatsApp. That's where we build human interaction. Bridal shopping is about translating the online experience into a tangible one.

The shows could have been edited better. Most designers seemed to be interested in fashioning their shows like a Netflix series, rather than a fashion film.

I liked: Rahul Mishra's show was more about artistic heritage, which is what a fashion show should be. Gaurav Gupta not only knew how to showcase his creations digitally but his unorthodox approach also opened the market to a millennial audience.

'Pandemic or not, the bride will dream'
Devangi Parekh, creative director, Aza Fashions

Devangi

The pandemic has left us no choice; either we do it digitally or don't do it at all. These are challenging times, and ICW is a first step towards inciting a feeling of OTT decadence, that couture is not cancelled.

The pandemic has trimmed budgets for Diwali parties, lavish birthdays and anniversaries, and buyers today are mainly wedding shoppers, so it made sense for designers to cater to them. I don't think pricing will be affected; if a bride dreamed of wearing Anamika Khanna on her special day, she still does.

It was a different time and mood when we introduced our e-commerce site in 2015. Designers were suspicious about the platform. They feared their designs would be copied. The same lot sees value in digital now. Digital fashion presentations levelled the playing field and opened up access to an otherwise gated event. But ,physical shows have their own advantage—you don't get to see the garment move, or feel it first hand (virtually).

I liked: Gaurav Gupta's show. He really made an impact through the medium; everything from his cast of characters to music was well thought out. He drove home a specific point, that of inclusiveness.

'Buyer interest in designer is platform agnostic'
Roopal Shodhan, Director, Elan Couture

Roopal

THE new collections have stirred the mood and interest, and we are receiving enquiries from would-be brides and grooms. A number of weddings have been postponed to February and beyond, but those who plan to get married in 2020 cannot shop for older collections. I don't think the familial bonhomie that wedding shopping creates is going away.

I feel digital shows may just come to stay. As long as the customer is aware of who they like and want to invest in, the platform doesn't matter. Now is the market for prêt and wedding wear, not so much the in-between occasions.

The real issue for buyers is about how to order given the unpredictability of the market right now.

I liked: Amit Aggarwal did a good job at adapting to the new format, and Anju Modi is always a delight to watch for her beautiful aesthetics. One thing the pandemic has done is to push designers to be more creative through nuanced presentations or ingenious look-books.

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First Published: 27 September, 2020 08:11 IST

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