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Questioning the sacrosanct, the new motto of fashion

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Questioning the sacrosanct, the new motto of fashion

New Delhi, June 30 (IANSlife) Sir Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go waste” as he worked to help form the United Nations, after World War 2 crisis. Fashion pundits across the world seem to agree with him unanimously, as they discuss the road ahead for fashion and its various stakeholders.

In a recently conducted webinar conducted by Sujata Assomull, Founding Editor In Chief of Harper”s Bazaar, India, stake holders in the industry came together to map out the road ahead. On the panel was Dipali Goenka (CEO & Jt. MD, Welspun India Ltd), Punit Lalbhai (Executive Director, Arvind Limited) and Katrin Ley, Managing Director, Fashion For Good, who discussed the current scenario as an opportunity to inspire the industry to walk towards better productivity in fashion.

Innovation, reduction in carbon footprints, a renewed supply chain system are some of the key points that the guests discussed. While Goenka emphasised on innovation and stressed on “green” revolution in the sector, Punit Lalbhai pointed out that the Pandemic era is the perfect time to “question the sacrosanct”! Lalbhai emphasise why one should mull over what is considered the “norm” before embracing change, be it the Work from Home concept or a staggered workforce, and finally pushing sustainability to the forefront.

Katrin Ley from Fashion For Good, the global platform for collaborative innovation in the fashion industry rightly pointed out that along with the economic impact and slump in the fashion industry, the social and environmental aspects have been hit too.

Adding, while the immediate impact may be a lack of cash and liquidity, it is also a crucial time when players, both manufacturers and brands, will find consumer behaviours pushing the momentum towards sustainability. The pandemic is forcing the business to take a pause and rethink. Let believes, there is a silver lining as there is a way of rebuilding a better way through a commitment towards sustainability by joining efforts and working together.

What is sustainability in fashion?

“Sustainability is something that allows us to perpetuate indefinitely into the future,” says Lalbhai. He points out the 7 major parameters in the manufacturing process of the textile business- Money, People, Water, Raw Material, Chemicals, Energy and Waste — where partnerships with brands, social stakeholders like municipal bodies, farmers and the startup ecosystem have proved fruitful in moving towards sustainable goals.

Innovation and sustainability are intertwined

Innovation and sustainability will work hand-in-hand. A drive towards innovation starts from consumer needs and desires. One sees moving away from a linear to a circular economy, innovation happens to be one side of it. It is embedded in the supply chain. The story starts from scrap yards. Can the scrap yard become the wealth for the manufacturers, can we start using recycled plastic instead of emerging plastic and steer it to the supply chain, asks Goenka.

Adding, it will be interesting to see the circularity of “farm to shelves and back to farm” becoming the new normal as the onus remains on the textile manufacturers to find a solution as the industry is one of the world”s largest consumer of water, and contributor to questionable landfills and cotton.

How sustainability/innovation matches the Supply-Demand dynamics

The advent of coronavirus has brought a change in the demand side of the business in recent times. More and more companies are manufacturing PPEs, innovations drives with the advent of anti-viral clothing, fabrics and textiles etc.

“Innovation has always existed in this world. The act of taking that to the consumers is connecting dots. It is about connecting with the customers. Our motto at Arvind has always been who have already done the hard yards and partnership features in everything we do. Innovation bridges the gap brought about by lack of profitability and sustainability. This is exactly where partnerships, especially with innovators who are living, breathing the problem day in and out makes a lot of difference” says Lalbhai.

Role of Digitisation

With the new normal shifting towards a holistic approach, fashion”s stakeholders are more and more inclined towards embracing digitisation.

“Digital Acceleration in e-commerce in the form of virtual showrooms, supply chain transformations too are going to see a massive change as the world practices social distancing norms; even practices like auditing are going to be virtual,” says Ley.

From the front-end business like virtual showrooms to e-commerce, going virtual has changed the landscape of the business in major markets like the US, UK and India, feels Goenka, where Artificial Intelligence, including Cobots (Collaborative Robots) and Robots have proved fruitful in the detailed nuances of product inspection. Goenka predicts the E-commerce penetration in India will go up by 30 per cent or more in the coming days.

During the past few months, Assomull, a self-confessed “Mindful Fashion Advocate” has steered the discourse on the future of the fashion industry, with a focus on sustainability and eco-conscious fashion as the need of the hour. The author of “100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes” keeps the conversation relevant and in the spotlight through her social media initiatives and digital webinars. (Aditi Roy can be contacted at Aditi.r@ians.in)

–IANS

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Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: IANS


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Fashion watch: 3 standout digital couture presentations worth your time

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The first-ever Digital Haute Couture Week kicked off with Naomi Campbell delivering a message. The supermodel gave a filmed speech on the theme of diversity in fashion.

This was later followed by special events hosted by participating labels. Of course, there were also the traditional reveal of collections – well, sort of. While some failed to embrace the new format, others succeeded.

Those that stood out were the ones who managed to deliver digital presentations beyond the manner of a runway show. From interviews to cinematic films, these three labels definitely captured the attention of viewers.

Read more: ‘Black Lives Matter’ message is changing the style industry, says Naomi Campbell

The stuff of dreams

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Autumn/Winter 2020 haute couture collection for Dior was presented with a film by Italian director Matteo Garrone. Garrone is a two-time winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival (for Gomorrah and Reality).

This charming celebration of the workshops of the famous label, plunged the audience into a fascinating universe with fantastic poetic images (risque, by Malaysian standards) that reinvent the Dior dream.

But the highlight was actually a video with Chiuri, the creative director of Dior’s women’s collections. In an interview, she spoke of the cinematic backstory of the collection and the inspiration behind it.

Read more: The great Paris Fashion Week designer rebellion: ‘It’s time to slow down’

Fashion’s message

The second day of the Paris Couture Week was marked by the presentation of a collection by Rahul Mishra. In a statement sent to the press, the Indian designer indicated early on that he intended to address two major and very pertinent subjects.

He did just that. He spoke of the pandemic, and how it has particularly affected the skilled, unskilled and migrant workers in India. He also touched on the importance of nature and how humans can learn from it.

Called “Butterfly People,” the presentation is as much enchanting as it is relevant and moving. It also gave everyone a lot to think about.

Read more: No physical couture shows? The super rich aren’t crying into their cocktails

Candid conversation

Aside from the digital presentation, Giambatista Valli also gave an interview to explain his current views. In a 13-minute video, he spoke about everything – from how everyone’s lives have changed, to the challenges the fashion industry is facing.

He also spoke about his latest inspiration for couture, as well what it was like to work on a couture collection while stuck at home under lockdown.

Valli candidly revealed his thoughts on a matter of other subjects as well. Spoiler: He really hates it when people work in fashion only for the glamour!

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As More Trade Shows Go Online, Fashion Companies Also Seek Digital Alternatives

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Exhibit of Diesel Holiday styles

Exhibit of Diesel Holiday styles

While a few in-person trade events such as L.A. Market Week have reopened, many other high-profile happenings have announced that their summer 2020 events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has left many trade-show producers and vendors going virtual.

Seeking alternatives to on-site events has pushed fashion companies to develop new methods that can temporarily replace the in-person meeting. Italian denim brand Diesel is one such company developing new meeting platforms. On June 25, it introduced Hyperoom.

“One must look for silver linings whenever and wherever possible,” said Massimo Piombini, Diesel’s chief executive officer. “2020 has sparked an urgency to accelerate what we can offer and accomplish in the digital space.”

Diesel executives invite buyers to visit Hyperoom’s digital showrooms, which offer three-dimensional displays of Diesel collections with two-dimensional closeups of items with product descriptions.

Buyers can make orders on the platform through a live chat with a Diesel representative. The representative handles the virtual meeting like a trade-show appointment, showing off the collection and, if the meeting goes well, taking an order.

Cotton Heritage, a premium apparel-blanks company headquartered in Commerce, Calif., has developed a new meeting procedure for retailers and companies who may not want to take a live meeting, said Ken White, Cotton Heritage’s vice president of sales. The virtual meeting procedures were announced at the beginning of July, with the first meetings taking place the week of July 6.

With this new protocol, Cotton Heritage’s staff encourages buyers to schedule a meeting with a Cotton Heritage representative on the scheduling app Calendly. Once a meeting is confirmed, buyers talk to a Cotton Heritage representative through the Zoom video-conferencing platform. The first Zoom meeting is basically a 15-minute meet-and-greet to find out what categories of blanks interest the buyer.

Once the interests in blanks are confirmed, Cotton Heritage delivers samples to the buyer and schedules a longer meeting over Zoom.

“The key is to get product in the customers’ hands,” White said. “Our T-shirts are known for having a great hand and a great printability. So even people in lockdown mode should be able to interact with the product.”

White stressed that Cotton Heritage intends to exhibit at in-person trade shows once the events run again. However, the company has been developing its virtual-meeting protocol for a while. Many buyers have been requesting virtual meetings in the past few years. The COVID-19 crisis simply impelled Cotton Heritage to try out the digital protocol.

“This puts us with our customers in the way they want to work. This is our world now,” White said. “We’re not going to walk away from trade shows. The interaction with new customers at trade shows means more than anything to us.”

Cotton Heritage sales representatives and executives have held detailed discussions of how Zoom meetings should be handled. Technical issues of how to connect have been handled along with tips on how to make sales representatives’ home offices look a bit like showrooms. However, the success of these virtual meetings is not guaranteed, said Dean De Costa, a Cotton Heritage sales representative who handles the company’s accounts in such locales as Orange County, Calif., California’s Central Coast and the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s uncharted waters for us. The benefit is that it will allow us to reach out and connect with customers in a more personal way compared to a phone call,” De Costa said.

It’s also not guaranteed that every buyer will feel comfortable handling business online.

Fraser Ross of the Los Angeles–headquartered boutique company Kitson said that he would prefer to see new lines at an in-person trade show. He has not made orders at a virtual trade show because he had questions about privacy at these meetings. As a buyer in a competitive field, he did not want rivals to know what he was ordering. “Will there be 12 people on these Zoom meetings?” he joked.

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To Make Fashion Business Sustainable, Go ‘Upstream,’ Forum Says – WWD

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“Delivering the latest [fashion] is just chewing up supply chains and the companies involved.”

So said Rebecca Henderson, a John and Natty McArthur University professor at Harvard University and author of “Reimagining Capitalism in a World On Fire.”

In hindsight, it’s difficult to argue the benefits of such a model. Boohoo’s recent plunging stock due to allegations of poor worker pay and safety is evidence of the financial world’s important role in directing accountability, with Henderson and John Thorbeck, chairman of Chainge Capital, emphasizing the importance of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance measures in their respective speeches at Sourcing Journal’s “Fashion’s Business Model for Sustainability” virtual event on Wednesday. (Sourcing Journal, like WWD, is owned by Penske Media Corp.)

There were six total sessions ⁠— including a peer-to-peer idea exchange to close the afternoon ⁠— that reiterated how committed companies will be able to increase both sustainability and profitability, as they are interrelated.

According to Henderson, remaking fashion requires rebuilding purposeful, inclusive institutions and grappling with architectural innovation. Change should be implemented in strides within a procedural approach so a firm doesn’t take on too many projects (most firms are about 300-percent overloaded).

Purpose can’t be faked either.

Thorbeck, in a session on “A Roadmap for Capital, Culture and Change,” led with the “Zara Gap” model he and Warren H. Hausman, a Stanford University professor, and Citi Research pioneered a few years ago to explain why fast fashion outperforms department stores and specialty retail.

Of course, the pandemic has caused even the world’s largest fashion retailer and Zara owner, Inditex, to suffer significant financial losses. 

The “Zara Gap” model applies postponement metrics to inventory risk; it quantifies impact on market capitalization of 30 to 40 percent. For a sustainable fashion business, Thorbeck calls for shared value and shared risk starting with upstream suppliers, instead of low cost and long lead times that have characterized the business for so long. With better lead time optimization (LTO), data science, strong ESG metrics and emphasis on process innovation in the first mile, retailers and brands can close the gap on Zara, while unlocking excess capital to meet the demand for sustainability.

Regarding the demand for sustainability, Akanksha Himatsingka, chief executive officer, EMEA & Asia Pacific, and creative director of the Himêya Himatsingka Group, noted the sustainability “premium” already shifting in favor of such change, but it “needs to happen a lot more.”

Not just in terms of consumer premiums, but February research from McKinsey & Co. found that 83 percent of c-suite leaders and investment professionals say they expect that ESG programs will contribute more shareholder value in five years than today– indicating they’d pay a “10 percent median premium to acquire a company with a positive record for ESG issues over one with a negative record.”

“Consciousness” across investors, corporations and consumers is the guiding word, according to Liz Simon, chief sustainable transformation officer at Fashion3, in the same session on “Creating the New Social Impact Narrative.”

It wasn’t the only session beckoning a reframing of thought. In some fashion businesses, data science often gets scooted off to the IT department, where the discipline would be better-suited to operational roles.

AJ Mak, founder and ceo of Chain of Demand, and Ahmed Zaidi, cofounder and chief technology officer of Catalyst AI, spoke to the value in data science and predictive analytics in operations for unlocking upstream capital and responsiveness to the tune of a 50 percent reduction in excess inventory by year-end, in one best-case scenario.

In another session, Morten Lehmann, Global Fashion Agenda’s chief sustainability officer, talked about another “gap” that needs to be addressed: that of a company’s short-term and long-term sustainability goals.

His viewpoint matches that of much of the industry’s since, with thinning resources and continued fallout from COVID-19, who can earnestly allocate investment to sustainability right now?

“The biggest challenge we are facing with this is how do we close that gap,” said Lehmann. He outlined government incentives, among other commitment drivers, as key to increasing industrywide accountability.

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