A Webinar was held on 2nd June, 2020 organized by Department of M.Design (Fashion Design ), Self‑financed Course, Sir Vithaldas Thackercy College of Home science(Autonomous), SNDT Women’s University. There were five panelists who gave their individual opinion on their expertise field.  The Webinar resulted in a lively discussion on trends that would evolve in fashion during and post pandemic period. This also included a discussion on marketing strategies.

Dr. Anuradha Ramesh gave a brief description of Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science, a premier autonomous institution of SNDT Women’s University offering the M. Design (Fashion Design) program. The principal focus of this program is to encourage innovation through Research and Development. The other area of focus is in identifying recent trends in sustainable fashion.

The principal objective of the Webinar was to predict how COVID 19 pandemic would impact trends in the fashion industry and influence fashion design institutes. The areas of interest included changes in fashion trends and the impact on innovation and entrepreneurship. Sustainable innovation and use of digital technology were also areas of interest.

As explained by Dr. Juhi Agarwal, Assistant Professor at M. Design(Fashion Design), S.V.T College of Home Science, fashion is either a style that is popular in the present, or is a set of trends that has been generally accepted by a wide spectrum of consumers. On the other hand, forecasting involved predicting future trends. Furthermore, forecasting would also involve predicting the choices of colours and patterns.

The first panelist was Mr. Anuj Sharma, a designer and founder of the label “Button Masala”. This label brought into the forefront a new ornamentation technique and a no-sew method of garment construction. He has taught this technique to over 25,000 people across the world.

He has also as presented his collections at Lakme Fashion Week, Dhaka Khadi Fashion show, Dutch Design DFA, Bliss at Taiwan Design Expo and many more. He spoke about how accessories and clothing transform power and expression of one’s personality. According to him, “Design is the ability to manage things within limitations of life.” Mr. Sharma predicted that the fashion scenario post COVID 19 would become simpler. There would be more interest in experimental clothing. Drapes would also become the future trend in the country. He also demonstrated how a garment could be draped with just a button or a coin, and with the help of rubber band.

The second panelist was Ms.Kundlata Mishra , an associate professor at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Mumbai. She had almost two decades of experience as an academician specializing in the field of fashion forecast and functional clothing. Ms Mishra

has also acquired special expertise in indigenous Indian crafts and textiles. She reported that the PPE developed through her research study was not only suitable for industry use but also

incorporated design aesthetics suitable for fashion industry. When she was asked whether sustainability was a necessity or norm, Ms. Kundlata  Mishra claimed that the best utilization of clothes is in itself points to good usage of resources. She claimed that sustainability was no longer a passing fad but an ongoing trend that would be translated into classic fashion.

According to Ms Mishra, sustainability was ensuring a balance between planet, environment, people, for growth. After the COVID19 pandemic, fashion leaders would be expected to integrate sustainable business models with a unified approach that would factor in environmental, social, and purchasing trends into core thinking. Furthermore, the fashion industry was the second industry that would be severely impacted after the travel industry. However, a positive impact of COVID 19 would be that the carbon footprint would register a fall. We were advised to keep in mind the 4 R’s of sustainability that pertain to reducing,  reusing,  recycling, and reviving. We were also advised to keep innovating and adopting new technology that is sustainable in nature.

Our Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi vision of going vocal for local would mean buying local products to help reduce the footprints of transportation of goods and raw materials. Moreover the

idea is to focus on adapting to products that grow locally and are naturally occurring. Meanwhile, factors such as quality and durability would also become more important. Therefore, though sustainability is becoming a necessity today, it might turn out to be the trend tomorrow.

The third panelist, Ms. Anushree Nair, is a Buyer Relations and Content Manager, IMG Reliance Pvt Ltd ( Lakme Fashion Week) . She is also an alumina of SNDT women’s University who is graduated with a degree in Fashion Design. She spoke about how the fashion scenario is taken on by big brands and their marketing strategy. According to her, the most important things to keep in mind is the marketing strategy. Brands were to have a digital presence and also include a travel friendly collection. Periodically, previous collection would have to be even discounted as liquidating the stocks would help to cover some expenses. It was also necessary to keep in mind that only a well priced collection would be profitable.

For understanding the market, small businesses were advised to focus on easier clothing.This would typically include smart casuals that look good, feel good,would make a consumer feel psychologically more confident. The emphasis was to be on designs that would be preferred by consumers. Another visible trend pointed to the evolution of masks that matched with clothing styles.

The fourth panelist was Dr Armaiti Shukla, associated professor, Head, Department of Textile and Apparel Designing , Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of  Home science(Autonomous). She shared her views on fashion post COVID19. She held the view that visual merchandisers should come up with new strategies or innovations to attract the consumers. The term body scanning and smart tailoring would then come up in most endeavors. According to her, another step towards sustainability would be the renting of garments. This new area for entrepreneurship would probably arise due to a sluggish economy with decreased wages and lack of employment opportunities.

One of the  panelist Dr. Sabita Baruah, Senior faculty, Department of M. Design (Fashion Design) , Self Financed Program at Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science(Autonomous) , SNDT Women ‘s University commented on innovation in the fashion industry. She expressed the view that creative thinking would happen when many designers would be pushed into the survival mode. The idea was that new challenges and restrictions would automatically drive fashion designers towards innovation.Dr Sabita Baruah also commented on the incorporation of digital solutions in fashion design institutions.

She pointed out that current technology was not sufficiently advanced to replicate the traditional experience of the feel and texture of the fabric, while future advances in virtual reality might someday make it possible to feel the texture and feel. She also mentioned that many of the international fashion design institutes have already taken the initiative to introduce software products such as 3D Clo, Browzwear, and 3D Prototype. The main challenges for practical courses would be of gaining access to digital equipments. Thereafter, there would be the possibility that traditional and digital methods could complement each other with proper blending.

Brands such as Myntra have kept customers engaged even during the pandemic by arranging cooking classes, games, and fashion advice sessions. Face masks are now becoming a part of fashion statements. Many young entrepreneurs have come up with various creative ideas and innovations. NAARI KAVACH is a cover that is worn as a protective layer of garment around a saree which is of 25 GSM and gives 99.6% protection against COVID19.It is now the right time to come up with multi-functional fabrics and products with better quality features or technology.