Bridal fashion market will bloom after Covid-19 slows down: Rachel J Amirtharaj
The bridal fashion industry was a healthy year-round business in India, with big fat weddings taking place every month, until Covid-19 crashed the party. Even though the pandemic has put the brakes on social gatherings, young designers, including Rachel J Amirtharaj, are optimistic about the future and expect a big boom once the Covid-19 spread slows down.
After a successful stint of over seven years in the bridal fashion industry in India, the designer has earned the title of the most influential name in the business. Amirtharaj has also designed a host of Bollywood celebrities like Deepika Padukone in Finding Fanny, Anushka Sharma in PK, Jacqueline Fernandes in Kick, Rani Mukherjee in Mardani, Neha Dhupia in Santa Banta, Sushant Singh Rajput, and a lot more.
Amirtharaj talks to FashionNetwork.com on the impact of Covid-19 on sales, the bridal wear industry, and expansion plans.
Fashionnetwork.com: Fashion Industry has been badly hit due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. How has the lockdown been for you and the brand since you specialize in bridal wear, which has been one of the most affected segments due to postponement and cancellations of weddings?
Rachel J Amirtharaj: The entire Covid-19 outbreak is a human tragedy, whilst it has an unprecedented impact on almost all the industries in the global economy. Due to the precautionary measures being taken by the governments across the world such as lockdown and strict implementation of social distancing, most of the weddings are either postponed or are being conducted in very small gatherings or else are taking place virtually. For us, at La Fantaisie by Rachel, this is one of the bad weathers that have drastically spoiled the crops. Almost 80 percent of our sales have dropped, and we are solely dependent on the rest 20 percent of the sales that we get through our e-commerce and virtual shopping available through video calls.
FNW: How will the Indian fashion industry make a comeback, especially bridal wear, and what steps are you taking as a designer/brand to revive sales?
RJA: Indians are known for a few things and one of them is its wedding culture; it is a 'thing' here in India. The weddings here are so much hipper, cooler and happening than any other weddings across the whole wide world. The plethora of rituals, endless delicacies, variety of colours, impromptu events, longer celebrations, and the culture bank make it more enthralling and experiential.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a halt in this industry, and obviously to our business, once this lean phase is over, the industry and our business will bloom with a big boom, turning from a small thin virtual wedding to the big fat Indian wedding as usual in no time, once the outbreak is controlled by the grace of God. We are presently working on improving our delivery system while making available minimalistic designs for the brides to be.
FNW: Do you have any plans of diversifying your portfolio by entering new segments for growth in these challenging times? Also, what is the expansion plan for the brand?
RJA: Factories and supply chains have shut down due to the nationwide lockdown and all the work has come to a standstill. There are job losses and salary cuts across sectors amid the pandemic, and increasing necessity of social distancing amongst people, when we don't know what the future of social gatherings in the country is. At this point, we at La Fantaisie do not feel like pushing sales as it feels too forced during such sensitive times.
In fact, our focus right now is on building our brand image and sales can wait. What's more important is getting out of this pandemic unharmed with our family, loved ones and people whose lives depend on our decisions by being compassionate towards our people, including our employees, and managing our finances wisely.
To stay relevant and in business, we have diversified our product portfolio for the time being, and have started manufacturing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Kits that are being used by essential workers.
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