Known to be lavish affair lasting a few days, the Indian wedding industry is grappling with a new normal where most couples are opting for small intimate ceremonies instead of earlier extravagant galas. The coronavirus pandemic has wiped away all the glory and grandeur from the big fat Indian wedding. For bridal designers, the year 2020 has been a complete write off with most of them going from 100 per cent to zero capacity within just a few days. Designer Sabhyasachi Mukherjee, who dresses about 4,500 brides a year, is experiencing a significant reduction in order volumes while designers Anita Dongre recorded zero order bookings in March and April.
E-commerce to rise in importance
Post pandemic, designers expect a rise in demand for experiential retail stores as consumers will start valuing the in-store experience, feels Mukherjee. He advises designers to adopt a cautious approach and strictly adhere to hygiene standards and an appointments-only policy to overcome this crisis.
With more designers placing serious bets on online presence, e-commerce will play an increasingly important role in the luxury bridal wear segment. Some leading Indian designers have already started their e-shops. Payal Singhal, a Mumbai-based bridal designer has revamped the front and back-end operations of her e-commerce platform besides introducing more product lines. Similarly, Designer Rahul Mishra who opened his e-store in July is capturing the journey of his designs by documenting production processes as a part of the brand’s storytelling.
Designs to become more refined with exquisite details
Most Indian labels offer two bridal collections a year, with seven to 75 designs in each line. However, this year, designers plan to reintroduce Spring/Summer ’20 collections that did not receive the usual spotlight they might have had. Dongre and Mukherjee will stick to their plan of offering bespoke bridal wear. Tahiliani’s designs will have more refined thread work and exquisite detailing that can be appreciated more in closed places rather than under the harsh lights of banquet halls. With most of his migrant workers returning to their villages, Tahiliani plans to set up new production centers in rural areas to resume production.
Mishra, who championed the ‘reverse migration movement’ six years ago, is also urging his embroiderers to move back to their villages, while still working with them continually. The designer employs many such craft clusters consisting of communities working from their homes in villages.
Devoid of all its past grandeur and glory, Indian weddings in future will adopt a more serious and toned-down look. The luxury clothing sector will have to readjust its outlook to this changed scenario.