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The fashion industry has been unreasonably limited to designing and modeling ever since the conceptualization of the idea of fashion. Although the booming awareness around business and management as the step after designing a piece has enabled people to explore further in the domain, the popular narrative continues to jumble the two terms namely, fashion designing and fashion management.
Fashion designing is a work of art where the artist means to create or design a piece of clothing or accessory that eventually goes on to become a part of daily fashion among the masses. On the other hand, fashion management refers to the business aspect of the industry where a manager is responsible for brand value, image, and visibility of the product through ventures such as advertisement, essentially creating a market for the finished products.
A few other features surrounding the two aspects of the Fashion industry are as follows:
Prêt-à-Porter translates to “ready-to-wear” fashion, it is created in various standard sizes and is available for a wider range of customers, whereas Haute Couture refers to exclusive exaggerated pieces designed to fit a few selected clients.
Haute Couture translates to “high sewing” and is unfit for bulk production owing to the excessive cost of production material, unlike ready-to-wear fashion which is deemed as a comparatively cheaper version of high sewing culture.
Fashion shows hosted by designers are attended by fashion managers and merchandisers to buy potentially usable products to be displayed and sold in their stores. To emerge as a successful fashion manager, one must excel in communication and negotiation skills and understand transitions in the industry.
It is perplexing to state that the fashion industry in India is mistakenly thought to be woven around the 2008 Bollywood film, Fashion by Madhur Bhandarkar. The discourse built in the film majorly showcases a westernized, abusive, and decadent image of the industry whereas, in reality, India being an agrarian civilisation has a rich history in the fashion industry. The notion of the fashion industry is undeniably western but traditional clothes such as saree, kurta, dhoti, and ghagra-choli have been a major component of our culture. India is the second-largest producer of Silk and the third-largest producer of cotton, respectively which significantly elevates the quality of fabric produced in the country and thus impacts the production of silk-based products.
From Mahatma Gandhi deeming Charkha or the spinning wheel as the tool that will lead to political emancipation of India from British rule to the establishment of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) along with Fashion Institute of Technology, New York by the textile Ministry, Government of India in 1986; the fashion industry holds a crucial place in Indian history.
Embroidery is the indispensable trademark of Indian Fashion with its cultural and spatial variations such as Aari in Kashmir, Banjara in Andhra Pradesh, Banni in Gujarat, Chikankari in UP, Gota in Rajasthan, Phulkari in Punjab, Shisha in Haryana among many others along with various printing, knitting and weaving practices such as ikat, patola, or bandhani. A few Indian fashion designers who have vastly influenced the market are as follows:
The retail business boomed with the economic reform bills in the 1990s that liberalized the Indian market and provided a space for more western outsourced businesses and outlets in the market. Although the Indian Textile Industry employs around sixty million people, it contributes around two percent to the GDP and around twelve percent to export earnings as recorded by IBEF in 2018-19.
One must understand that the rural population comprises more than sixty percent of modern India. The fashion industry with its high-brow notions in capital cities like Paris and New York poses a stark contrast with the elements of fashion and clothing culture practised in most parts of our country. The Retail Business in India can be broadly divided among the classes existing in our society:
The dictum that globalization is a two-sided sword especially stands true with respect to the retail management business in India. Brick-and-mortar businesses refer to traditional ideas of selling products with physical stores, clothes hanging on mannequins, and salespersons present to resolve any query, while eCommerce refers to web-based business models which require no physical contact and the product is directly sent to your home.
It is true that with the arrival of the internet and eCommerce, retail businesses, aka brick-and-mortar businesses have been facing several issues with a huge chunk of the population preferring the flexibility provided by online platforms such as Amazon or Flipkart over the road-side shops that sell local products. However, eCommerce can be employed to provide visibility to local stores in rural India, if used strategically. The techniques such as hands block printing clinch a high cultural and labour value that can be aptly priced through eCommerce making it available to a wider range of customers.
Indian inclination towards the online market has been substantially increased by two factors, free internet services provided by Reliance Jio, and the drive to run businesses online during the unforeseen circumstances posed by the pandemic. A lot of Indian women who are unfortunately still banished to move out of the boundaries of their household have been furnished with the opportunities to set up online business stores and become financially independent. Even though India has observed a bent toward eCommerce businesses irrespective of the mystery and fear around online scams, it can be argued that eCommerce and retail businesses have amalgamated in order to attract customers in recent years instead of one completely taking over the other. With brands investing in physical stores around metropolitan cities as the architectural materialization of their presence, it is clear that marking a permanent customer base with e-commerce alone is not possible in a country like India in the near future and most businesses prefer to exist in both models simultaneously to increase the customer base.
It is difficult to argue whether eCommerce is better that Retail fashion stores since the vast population of the country are highly divided over the advantages and disadvantages of both mediums as is understood from the following aspects:
Therefore, eCommerce and retail management continue to move hand-in-hand for now. However, increasing disinterestedness in today’s youth to go out and interact with salespersons has certainly put a question mark on the future of retail business in India.
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