The phone’s has been ringing off the hook for Meghna Saraogi, cofounder of Styledotme, a tech solution that caters primarily to jewellery companies. Most of her clients, sixth or seventh-generation jewellers, have traditionally been secretive about jewellery catalogues. But Covid-19 has changed everything.
“It’s much easier to sanitise an iPad on which people can virtually try on jewellery rather than every single piece after it’s tried on. Contactless selection and try-ons will be the next big thing,” said Saraogi, whose client list includes big names such as Tanishq and Hazoorilal Jewellers.
Her business has seen a 150 Per cent increase in enquiries since the lockdown began, and not just from India. This is possibly the company’s best business month ever, she said.
In a Covid-19-ravaged world where the rules of business are getting written as afresh, the fashion industry is getting an makeover, pivoting toward remote working, digital draping and trials. Fashion-tech and other digital specialists are catalysing disruption that is changing the space faster than a season’s summer trends.
Globally, companies such as Joor, NuOrder and Odre are digitising wholesale and ecommerce experiences with virtual showrooms, catalogues and 3D imaging. Indian brands are witnessing a similar shift.
Bangalore-based BigThinx, which has been mentored by Prada, is in the midst of working on an e-fashion show organised by New York technology company Fashinnovation. Buyers can view digital avatars of models and place orders online after seeing the collections. So far, BigThinx is only looking at international clients and has seen a 5x increase in enquiries since the beginning of the pandemic.
‘Trial Rooms Most Vulnerable’
Swiss 3D body measuring company Meepl has signed up six new Indian clients in the last two months.
Its vice president for the EMEA region, René Stampfl, said enquiries are up 500-600% from across the world. The app takes standardised body measurements directly to the clothing company’s website, seeking to connect the customer to a perfect fit.
It will not be easy to make the digital leap overnight for legacy labels. Studies show only 8% buyers shop online globally. India’s numbers are even lower, at 5%. Large retailers around the world from Zara owner Inditex to Swedish chain H&M are shutting stores and cancelling orders as virtual shopping hasn’t picked up the slack.
Kavindra Mishra, MD and CEO, House of Anita Dongre, said it’s getting customers to shop by appointment. On the other hand, at the company’s Global Desi brand stores, clothes that have been tried will be steam ironed and kept aside in a store room for at least two days.
“I don’t think the e-model will on work on heavy expense garments, which are made to measure. I don’t think the technology is 100 Per cent there yet,” said Mishra. Instead, the company wants to get into live streaming for sales.
Video conferencing and contactless deliveries are another alternative, said couturier Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who feels it’s too early to open his stores to the public yet. “This is the best and most sustainable way forward for our business, our employees, and our customers,” he said.
That’s an opportunity for tech companies such as TryndBuy, which allows people to try apparel through virtual stylists and trial rooms before buying. Founder Nitin Vats said stores will have to rely solely on manager suggestions made to buyers based on body sizes until there are acceptable replacements for trial rooms.