Saving Value with Interest and Accountability

Saving Value with Interest and Accountability

The TVOF Rebuilding Report is a diverse, dynamic report that documents the loss wreaked by the pandemic with recovery solutions for the road ahead

Among the many realisations we had at The Voice of Fashion once the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, two stand out in my mind. One, the discretionary nature and diluted importance of fashion in the larger scheme of things. Two: how we as a team stumbled upon a vital inflection point in our content generation in the last three months.

It would have been hard to understand the innards, the grief, the struggles and the innovative agility of the fashion industry without the pain and panic brought on by COVID-19.

The ebb and swell on the emotional graph of creativity; the poignant reflections of Work from Home (WFH) diaries, the hiccups between ‘my fashion, your fashion, global fashion and un-fashion’. The ‘who and what will survive’ debates and predictions. The temporary excitement of webinars, Insta Lives and Zoom meetings. The almost poetic course correction of the industry, its people, its shindigs, its products. It has been hectic, as you will agree.

A TVOF Doodle Map project led to our first online exhibition in April—the cover image of the special edition is below (and the link to the exhibition is here). It woke us to the shared trigger a number of artists, doodlers and painters felt when we called out on social media for “fashion in quarantine” drawings.


Photo: Cover art by Sounak Sen Barat

The digital cover for TVOF Doodle Map.

Fashion will continue to breathe. That is a truism from the future. Yet the way it will be ruled by the algorithms of technology is to me, a big loss. Fashion (in literature, art, cinema, psychology, music), has a certain smell. The smell of kapda (cloth). It has a body—and a vast body of work. It has a shape: the shape of things in the past and the present. It has a presence—physical, mesmeric, talismanic. Fashion brightens up if it makes love to spectacle, it craves to be seen, worn, touched, heard and hugged as a product with a person or team behind it.

All that stands threatened. So what must we save?

This report attempts to answer that. Titled “Saving Value”, the TVOF Rebuilding Report offers the industry—fashion, retail, crafts and sustainability enterprises—a quick but considered view of what went by in the last three and half months. It is diverse and dynamic. It travels on the Indian map from the North Garo Hills of Meghalaya to Sindhudurg in Maharashtra. It brings in sage observations from technology wizards currently busy rewiring e-commerce as well as Pattachitra artisans in rural clusters on how they interpret COVID-19 themes. From category shifts inside footwear and travel brands to losses in the jewellery business, this is an unmasking.


Photo: Rakesh Nakash

Cheriyal artist Rakesh Nakash’s hand-painted masks.

There are numbers and statistics: furloughed jobs, the shrinkage and resetting of fashion, beauty and accessory businesses, and the shakeout of many small and medium scale fashion labels.

Followed by the surge of innovative technologies, the resilience to shift, move, survive. Whether that is by setting up virtual showrooms, nurturing the new nature of fashion weeks or committing to optimisation instead of downsizing.

Saving Value may convince you that fashion as a purchase may be discretionary but its spine, the minds behind it, the interlinked pathways that link the migrant labourer to India’s best known designers, makes it a reality that should matter to each one of us.

Guest columns from Fabindia chairperson William Nanda Bissell, Dastkar boss Laila Tyabji, couturiers Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Tarun Tahiliani, fashion communication expert Harmeet Bajaj and event innovator and publicist Srimoyi Bhattacharya will give you an unfolding. While Tahiliani stands for an era of pared down couture and personalised ways of selling it, Sabyasachi adds another “Indian” to the ‘Great Indian Wedding’, arguing that everything from the florist to the shehnaiwala or the mithaiwala and the artiste-performer at weddings will now be Indian. Bye-bye Beyoncé. Luxury will be “vocal about local”. Tyabji reminds us why it is time for partnerships between designers instead of patronage while Bissell’s essay is actually a meditation on continuity. Not just of Fabindia.


Photo: Fabindia

Employees wearing protective face shields at a Fabindia store.

This report excerpts a variety of stories TVOF has published over the last three months. It includes quotes from global voices on sustainability and the true “value” of fashion that intersects with other aspects of popular culture. Some of these may inspire all of us to take accountability for the change we believe should happen.

Saving Value is an interim report on rebuilding the industry. As things will pulsate and change, evolve and rearrange themselves again. We will be tracking every bit and updating you every day.