FDCI chief Sunil Sethi talks to Wedding Asia and says buoyancy will return after the health issue is sorted out.
“Couture is not going to go away because every bride will have a dream.”
What is your vision for 2020-21?
See, there’s no magic wand. We cannot wish Covid-19 and its repercussions away, and this norm of social distancing is here with us right now. We all have to be mature enough to understand that it will take at least till the end of the year for things to get normal. Having said that, I also believe, people cannot do without celebration, that’s the inherent tendency of human beings. Whether it is Ramadan or Diwali, people will want to look beautiful and dress well even if it’s only for family.
As far as the near future is concerned, everything depends on vaccination as of now. If the vaccine is here, and people are able to take preventive measures, it will be business as usual. Now this will take some time, you have to be patient.
I am very, very certain that what we are experiencing now will not be the “new normal” in the future too. But what we have learnt from these days, will be in use after that. And the learning is going to help us in a big way. For instance, with Zoom and teleconferencing, now we know, our business executives do not have to travel to Kerala to make business decisions, they can do that very effectively through video conferencing from Delhi.
For retail, realistically, the customer sentiment is not going to be there for some time. Indians are conscious shoppers. They will not be doing “revenge shopping”; there will be no over-spending.
Digitalisation–that’s where the world has moved into much faster in these lockdown and self- isolation days–that’s the need of the hour. So, if for fashion, you cannot have live models, try to send your message across with virtual models. Quality conscious buyers, who have done their research, will know how to reach out for the best.
What about the future of the fashion business?
Couture is all about customisation, it’s not off the rack, with same design in various sizes. People might think why to spend on an expensive dress if there is no occasion. If there’s no red carpet event, why will a celebrity spend on a dress meant for such occasions? But that does not deter designers to look at their cost aspects in the changed scenario and offer alternatives.
Eventually, business will happen because every bride has a dream. Couture is not going to go away because every bride will have a dream. Even if you just want to meet a few cousins over a Diwali get together, you will want to dress well.
I would like to see that the glass is half full, and there is hope.
What in store for fresh fashion graduates?
For fresh graduates, there may be some wait before they get jobs, but for creativity there is no bar. For young talent, online platforms could be explored. If your talent is superior, you will get noticed.
There are two things I see from the current situation. One, there will be learning from this. Second, this is not how the normal would be once the curves starts flattening. Business will pick up as usual after the health issue is sorted out. There’s hope, and opportunity ahead.