Quarantine weddings have swiftly replaced Big Fat Indian Weddings. Everyone who was at some stage of planning a wedding or was to be a part of some wedding has this question – what will happen to the wedding wear post the lockdown. For anyone who loves art and fashion, dressing up is perhaps the most exciting part of the wedding. Covid-19 has changed and challenged norms that were being followed for several decades now, in a very short span of time.
The future of fashion is quite uncertain and has everyone speculating. Some people think the spike in sales on the first day of the opening of the Chinese market can be taken as a precedent for markets all over the world, including India. As much as we would like to see that happening, the reality might be far apart from that for the Indian markets. Our products, buying patterns, ethnic diversity, cultural distinctions and economic circumstances are unique. And so, I believe, we will have our own unique story.
The truth is, like most other industries, the Indian fashion industry has also been hit in the core and we need to find our feet all over again. We need to find our strengths and build our businesses ground up. In my opinion, our strength lies in the craft-based fashion which has not only stood the test of time but also has been consistently in demand over centuries. The lockdown has allowed people space to reflect on their buying decisions and consumption patterns. People are realising that spending on crafts, be it textiles or embroideries have been an investment for them and not an indulgence. People are thinking beyond the instant gratification of fast fashion and considering the impact of such buying on the environment and local communities. Additionally, the fact that this lockdown has impacted people across all sections of the society in varying degrees has triggered empathy amongst people to support each other and look for locally produced options. The real ‘make in India’ starts now that we have a market which is ready to breakaway from the old patterns of buying.
The sense of belongingness that buying from homegrown Indian brands brings with it is something else and can not be replaced. Apart from this feeling, it is also the inherent ease and comfort attached to wearing a banarasi saree or a zardosi lehenga which makes these textile crafts eternally fashionable. One never looks out of place wearing these. With constraint on wedding celebrations this year, a lot of our clients are looking to buy designs which are comfortable, classic and have a subtle celebratory feel to them. This is going to be a norm at least till a vaccine against Covid-19 is made available to everyone. It’s safe to say that people who had their weddings planned in the next six months, have to settle for smaller wedding ceremonies and hence similar choices.
The beauty of indigenous craft based fashion is that it can be adapted to mirror the socio-economic conditions of the times. Even today, in the quarantine weddings / ceremonies with a gathering of 50 people or less, a bride can go for a banarasi lehenga, bandhani ,a paithani saree, chanderi kurta or embroidered choli without looking extra. In fact it is still hard to imagine an Indian wedding without these quintessential textiles. Such is the value that our traditional crafts hold in the wedding rituals. Even while being deeply rooted in heritage, these designs can be made contemporary and quirky with a choice of blouses, crop tops, capes, belts etc. Styling is going to make a huge difference in the new wedding format where the venue will be smaller and the whole grandeur in general will be shredded. But that said, there is no reason to believe that the functions will be less fun or less stylish. Weddings will still have the associated functions, which means there will be a demand for occasion wear to be worn to these functions. Small but themed functions apart from 1-2 major functions seem to be in order. Probably the guest list will be scattered over several functions to accommodate everyone important at some stage of the wedding.
Rest assured, we are to see more heirloom pieces in the system. That doesn’t mean drapes and layers will lose their positioning. Millennials and baby boomers are going to continue doing what they do best even in the quarantine weddings – mix match and layer. The future of weddings is still fun and full of fashion. Big fat weddings might not be plausible any longer but certain components of these weddings shall prevail. Smaller weddings don’t mean they are any less special. In fact , more intimate affairs are going to make them even more special. Many things will change and we are soon to find new choices that are more resilient. But it’s only the product with a solid core, embedded in tradition and sustainability that is going to endure this change. It is time to stop taking our crafts for granted and stop feeling enamored with Fads that dress themselves up as classics.