Sunday, August 7, 2022

Fashion in times of a pandemic, ace designer Tarun Tahiliani on the future of fashion industry post Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought tremendous changes in almost every industry and fashion is no exception, says Tarun Tahiliani who joined for us a special segment on NewsX India A-list. Here’s what the ace fashion designer had to say.

Giving us insight into how he has been dealing with the pandemic, Tarun Tahiliani said, “You have to see silver linings on things. When you have no choice, you can either sit or see things as half empty or half full. I chose to the latter. First, I was in shock. Then, I had an amazing month because I had never been home for so long. This experience really changed a lot of people. It certainly changed me. It got us off a treadmill that we were stuck on. We were running so fast that we had no time to think and suddenly we were forced to be still. That’s what I call a silver lining. Something amazing began to emerge because I had forgot how it felt to be calm. A lot of things became acceptable and became the new normal.”

Sharing how this time made him introspect his brand, designs and ‘fashion in the new normal’, Tarun shared, “I began to think about what we were, who we were and how we were, I realised we had pushed too much into the wedding bridal market, which is beautiful but it is not my full designer sensibility. I like draping and simpler things. I find glamour in the simplest things. Perhaps, we had become too bollywoodised. I feel our style as a country was much more simpler. I miss seeing it. That simplicity of India, which has emerged because we were in the textile industry, was missing. If I am being called a pioneer then I should also be berated for pushing fashion that was so away from our roots. By June, we were limping but we shooted beautifully after that.”

He added, “Maybe now we have do more collections, show more and do smaller runs. There has been so much talk around fashion being at the right time and bridal collections being simplistic. Things had gone too far, in terms of consumption, access and what people thought was cool. Maybe, there is a pull back now. Many people question how are they going to go back to earlier life because they are happier now. It is a healthier life. I hope it can sustain and our businesses can run beautifully with this value system. There will be less consumption, or a different kind of consumption. The importance of our crafts, craftsmen and craft heritage is so important. It doesn’t have to manifest itself in a beautiful lehanga. It can also be a jacket with a beautiful motif, which is India modern and something that you can wear everyday. This time has really helped reorient myself and I am seeing this as a gift.”

When asked about his vision for wedding wear in the upcoming times, the designer said, “I think the weddings are much smaller now so there is less pressure on the brides and grooms. They are not cutting back on anything but now they are doing things in a very subtle manner. If there are 50 people in the room, you don’t need the same kind of bling. Everything feels easier, personal, intimate and more special. You can wear a resham lehenga and people will see what you are wearing. You don’t have to feel pressured. Be yourself. It is important for brides to look like themselves. As women are liberated and see themselves equal to men, they do not want to put themselves under pressure that men are not subjected to. Everyone should be their best judge and do what makes them happy.

“All the big weddings are being planned post November. There will be resurgence once there is a cure or vaccine. They are kind of repressed at the moment. However, there are some who have also moved on and changed outlooks. It doesn’t mean things will be sold less or it would be less important. The quality will be more important now to a certain section of people. They will value the look or brand more,“ he added.

On a parting note, Tarun Tahiliani shared how the pandemic has affected his personal life. He expressed, “I woke last Sunday at 8 am and drove to my factory to sketch. When my friend asked ‘for whom are you doing this?’ I responded that I am doing this for myself. Maybe I will have hundreds of sketches piled up but it is actually what makes me happy. I love doing it. My business was never driven by a motive of profit. My greatest gift from fashion is that I learned India. Having grown up in South Bombay, I travelled to places I had never seen, I worked with people I had never met and I visited villages and tribal places where people showed me different prints and artwork. This made me love India the way I never did. It has been amazing. I am not working less; I have just cut out a lot of things that were noise. What we do and how we handle the employees among other things have assumed different and greater significance. We need to do simpler things. I have got new agendas in my head and I am finding it all very exciting.”

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