Time For Change: Challenges And Implications For Fashion Startups In India

Time For Change: Challenges And Implications For Fashion Startups In India

Ms. Rosie Gulati, Founder, DressBio- A Luxury Women’s Fashion Wear Startup, 0

She envisioned launching her fashion label that would perfectly combine tradition with trend and hence she started conceptualizing Dress Bio. However, she soon realized that the modern independent women prefer trendy and customizable designs.

In 2020, the fashion landscape has witnessed a major change in the shopping behavior of customers. This year, after navigating customers’ fashion tastes and patterns of apparel shopping, fashion startups have come up with new sets of implications. Last year, businesses were adversely impacted by the pandemic and faced unexpected consequences. The fashion industry is now all set to make a comeback after a brutal and unrelenting encounter with the global pandemic last year.

With the switch to remote work, people were forced to shift their purchasing behaviours which brought a change in both workplace and home outfits. Though the pandemic has shaken some of the foundations of the fashion industry and posed some serious challenges, it has even paved the path for opportunities heralding a time for change.

Challenges for Fashion Startups in India
The fashion industry will take some time to bounce back and recover the revenue lost last year by implementing a few wise and time-relevant strategies. Some of the current hurdles the players in the ecosystem are facing include:

Improving Sales
During the pandemic, when the physical stores remained closed for several months, sales dramatically decreased. The post-Covid customers will make purchases with a purpose, that’s one of the most significant changes fashion start-ups will come across. Now, they would need a clear and compelling reason to buy clothes, footwear, and accessories. When every one is working from home and there is no scope left for outing and partying for the next few more months, improving sales would be a challenge. Amidst partial lockdowns in different states of India, the apparel and manufacturing sector has experienced a discouraging decline from store closure and stay-at-home orders from state governments.

Understanding Customer Demands
When it comes to the demand side, three major key trends are directly impacting purchases and consumers, such as value for money, sustainability, and digitalization. Consumers will be more aware and conscious of their shopping needs now more than ever and working to digitize one’s venture is required to stay afloat and tide over the current crisis. Digital presence is key to acquiring and retaining customers.

Streamlining Financial Costs
As many entrepreneurs do not invest in technology when starting out, their beginning years are marked by attempting a reconciliation between buyers and suppliers. This involves a tedious computation process
before assessing the GST. Needless to say, there’s a lot of back and forth required to get things done in books of accounts. It is, thus, a time-consuming process for all startups. To overcome this shortcoming, it’s important to apply innovative strategies like finding ways to cut inventory costs, improving marketing efficiency, reducing shipping costs, and controlling order returns.

Implications For Fashion Entrepreneurs
The outbreak of the pandemic has had some significant impact on the fashion startups operating in the ecosystem. Here are some implications that have occurred:

Frugality & Sustainability
Over the past one year, sustainability in the fashion industry has become a catch-all phrase which also includes re-branding of CSR, diversity, and inclusion. Consumers are now more inclined towards purchasing from the brand that supports and stands for social and political issues that align with their principles and values.

As many entrepreneurs do not invest in technology when starting out, their beginning years are marked by attempting a reconciliation between buyers and suppliers

The demand for sustainable fashion will be bigger than ever in the coming times as consumers nowadays are aware of the damage done by fast fashion and the scarcity of resources. The brands need to serve the purpose by focusing on creating things that are ethically made and economically feasible. Wastefulness and cruelty will no longer attract a crowd and the fashion brands looking for profit, must change their thought process, strategies and navigate the post-pandemic fashion taste of customers. Slow fashion that nurtures and protects the environment is the only key to make future business profits.

Respect for Consumer Sentiments
The future fashion landscape will be majorly defined by millennials as it will soon become the largest demography in the world, with the largest portion to spend in fashion. While the millennials would focus more on the overall sustainability of the globe, fashion brands would need to cater to their demands. Right from methods to grow and treat raw materials to the conditions of laborers in the industries will have a huge impact on the future business. Consumers would want to buy from brands that identify with their emotions and care about them.

Catering to Diversity
Respecting all cultures and races would help brands fetch profits and survival would be easier. Social media has proved to be a boon for the fashion industry and people have easy access to fashion brands from across the country. Fashion entrepreneurs will have to ensure that their services reach every part of the country and that the new line of apparel that they launch has to be sensitive towards the needs and demands of end consumers.

Summing Up
Fashion brands, established ones and startups, are now pivoting to make sure that consumers have a plethora of comfortable clothing options. Working on marketing and pricing strategies, understanding the changed shopping behavior and tracing future market scope would help brands to expand their business during the second wave and also in the post-pandemic era.