02:48 GMT01 October 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The outbreak of COVID-19 has put a brake on the Indian clothing market that was once 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.

    With fashion weeks postponed and designer outlets closed during the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 in India, the country’s top designers are finding a silver lining in this unexpected crisis by following their passion like photography, enrolling in online courses or spending time doing research and development on garments that will hit runways once the restrictions are over.

    Designer Rahul Mishra, who has been a regular at Paris and Milan fashion weeks and has been applauded for giving handlooms due recognition globally, is not letting the lockdown disturb his dedication towards his work.

    “At Rahul Mishra, our core teams (design, textiles, production, accounts & communications) are constantly working from home to reinvent our processes with the help of technology. We are focusing our energies on creating enough work requirements, for when the lockdown is released; employment will be a huge social concern at that time. This collective effort from our end allows us to tread deeper into our brand philosophies, allows us to ensure enough work opportunity for our workers post the lockdown without having to wait for research and design development", he tells Sputnik.

    “We are working towards making our best ever collection of garments while recalibrating our resources. It is a constant aim to have enough work for the workers as soon as the lockdown is released, so that they can recover from the difficult month(s)", adds Mishra.

    Having said that, he is also enjoying this phase of staying home with his four-year-old daughter Aarna.

    “As a parent, it is our responsibility to spend time with our children and keep them engaged in order to keep them safe and indoors. We’ve been making efforts to keep her time at home productive, educational, and entertaining. For this, we are focusing on nourishing her with good memories and quality time including hours of playing and physical activity, creative exploration and relationship building", elucidates Mishra.

    © AP Photo / Rajanish Kakade
    Models display creations by Gaurang during the Lakme fashion week in Mumbai, India, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.

    Eminent fashion designer Suneet Varma, who was instrumental in redefining the definition of couture in India and who launched his first couture collection in 1987 after returning from Europe where he worked for Yves Saint Laurent, is also enjoying this lockdown-induced time out.

    “There is definitely a loss and we all have to cope up with it. Everybody has to prepare themselves for the difficult time ahead. I have engaged myself with lot of design works. Even until late last night, I was watching documentary on the most beautiful Islamic art in the world. I feel that you have to professionally keep yourself inspired", Varma says.

    “Also, I like to make things on my own. For instance, I do accessories with my hand so I do lot of online courses on how to make and craft things out of metal. These are the things I always wanted to learn and there is a massive list. I know it’s a very peculiar thing to say but I really love this time out. I have put a lot of photography in last few years so I am learning so much of that also. There are great masters who inspire with their history of work", he continues.

    Another renowned fashion designer Gautam Gupta from the label GG By Asha Gautam, known for his love of detail and fine craftsmanship, feels that this time is tough and we need to acknowledge that.

    “We also know that it will take time to get better. My personal view is that it will take a year for Indian fashion to recover and even in that there will be some changes in consumer patterns. Indian fashion is predominantly related to weddings and occasions and the social distancing is here for some months", he explains.

    “So, when you are in such a situation which you haven’t ever been in you first take a breather and realise what all you can do in your personal space and in your work. For me, I decided to do an online course, engage myself in reading, writing and working on my health. Even in work, we are planning to make a collection according to our analysis of the situation. We are using time to see how we can develop collections more responsibly and have a more human touch to it. Lastly, we want to expand our digital presence this year, so we're working on that as well", the designer goes on.

    Leena Singh of the brand Ashima and Leena has kept herself busy with different organisations to feed the needy and stray animals. She is also working on her next collection.

    “I am preparing for a couture collection, sketching and putting ideas together. I am working on developing prints on computer for next season  AL (Ashima and Leena) is best known for its copyright prints. Under lockdown, the creativity is just overflowing", Leena says.

    However, she also feels that the luxury segment will be hit the hardest and that the government should push a stimulus.

    “Designers do not have deep pockets. They are big with their creativity and not with financial numbers. The advantage for AL is that it is a limited edition brand and has loyal clientele globally and weddings anyway will happen and orders will start pouring in within a couple of months. It is this philosophy of AL which will save the brand from crashing".

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