07:19 GMT24 November 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The outbreak of COVID-19 has literally brought the world to a standstill. In order to curb people-to-people virus transmissions, India is also witnessing a lockdown. While such a measure is sharply affecting the economy, it has also shut down the operations of leading fashion chains.

    The Indian clothing market was expected to reach $53.7 billion by the end of 2020 as per the fourth annual State of Fashion report by monthly magazine The Business of Fashion and American management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

    However, the figure seems to be a tough task to achieve, taking into account the current slowdown of business due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As of the morning of 23 March, at least seven Indians had died due to the virus and 415 people, including foreign nationals, had been infected.

    Many celebrated names in the Indian design industry, including Bollywood’s favourite designers Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee,  have already announced closing their operations for the time being in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

    In an official statement, designer Manish Malhotra stated: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has taught us how dependent we are on a healthy society than we acknowledge it”.

    “Understanding our priority to ensure the health of our employees, clients, our nation, and the world at large; we've temporarily discontinued our operations until further notice by the state”, he added.

    But is this step going to affect his business like never before?

    “This is the time to focus on inside and better our practices and nurture innovations, and we're determined in similar efforts during this time. Businesses are about longevity and right now it is important to save human lives. I'm using the time to think of the new few years knowing well things today are bad but few years down won't”, Malhotra, who has styled the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan, and many more, told Sputnik.

    Even noted designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee feels that in many ways, fashion is a service industry and at this time, the brand is concerned about the well-being of their workers and craftspeople.

    Hence, they have decided to shut down all their factories in the middle of the season and sent all their employees on paid leave.

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    #StayHome #SocialDistancing #StayResponsible #Sabyasachi

    A post shared by Sabyasachi Mukherjee (@sabyasachiofficial) on

    Niki Mahajan, another established name in the fashion industry, admitted to suffering huge losses amounting to millions of rupees.

    “In my entire career of 36 years this is the first time I feel so helpless. I have had to cancel all my export orders. My stores are shut, my factories are shut. My shipments for Middle East for Ramadan have yet to leave”, Mahajan told Sputnik.
    “I have cancelled all new wedding orders and have no idea how I will complete the pending ones. There is fear of the unknown in every one. There is a major loss already and there will be much more as I cannot see the end anywhere close”, she added.  

    She was currently working on her Autumn Winter delivery both for the domestic and international markets, but she is not thinking about business for the time being.

    “I am fearful for everyone. I can think of only surviving. I only want all this to go away. If I am alive, I can restart. We were working on our Autumn Winter delivery both for domestic/international”, said Mahajan.

    Designer Rina  Dhaka, who has showcased her work in Paris, New York, London, Mauritius, South Africa, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US and has clients like Naomi Campbell, Martha Marzotto, and Uma Thurman, says that she cannot predict the future and is focusing on the present situation.

    “With retail closed and fashion not being a life enduring priority, the strain is immense. Most orders stand cancelled (and) we have to support our existing fixed costs of teams with limited capital in hand”, she told Sputnik.  
    “As this is a cycle and any brakes to the cash flow on a daily basis will threaten the trade and the tradesman…there is a large number of daily wage workers who join the production and delivery processes, I wonder what will happen to them”, Dhaka added.

    Royal Fables, a craft exposition that presents art, craft, design, and fashion by design patrons who belong to leading Indian royal families, also had to be postponed due to COVID-19. The FDCI Fashion Week that was supposed to take place in March has been postponed. It is organised by the Fashion Design Council of India, India's apex fashion body.

    According to Anshu Khanna, the founder of Royal Fables and logger of www.proudtobemadeinindia.com, the Indian textile industry is estimated at around 108 billion dollars and was expected to reach 223 billion dollars by 2021, which seems impossible today.
    “The industry also employs over 45 million people directly to 60 million people indirectly. There will now be rampant unemployment now. I think this time the wound is deep and will take long to heal”, Khanna told Sputnik.

    Adarsh Gill, a veteran in the Indian design and fashion industry, feels that the industry, both domestic and export, is already in distress.

    “With this virus it has taken us to the doldrums. The sentiments are low. No one is buying anything today, naturally, but, even once the pandemic dies down, I do not expect too many orders materialising from overseas and nor are Indians going to indulge in luxuries like couture”, she told Sputnik.

    “My attitude is going to be to promote my affordable line Defiance and more than anything keep my workers happy but keep my expenses in control”, Gill added.

    At a time when the Indian textile industry also contributes approximately 5 percent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP), and 14 percent to the overall Index of Industrial Production (IIP), this seems to be a critical period.

    “For businesses like ours we also contribute to exports. But honestly, I don't see orders coming from early countries like Italy, France and US that will take a long time to heal”, said Gill.

    The coronavirus, which is suspected to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has so far infected as many as 339,000 people and more than 14,700 have died, a media report quoted a tally by Johns Hopkins University as revealing.


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