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Conscious closet: What are the new wardrobe essentials that one should invest in?

Expenditure on luxury buying, too, will take a back seat and products that offer durability, as well as protection will find more takers.Expenditure on luxury buying, too, will take a back seat and products that offer durability, as well as protection will find more takers.Expenditure on luxury buying, too, will take a back seat and products that offer durability, as well as protection will find more takers.Expenditure on luxury buying, too, will take a back seat and products that offer durability, as well as protection will find more takers.

At a time when staying home has become the new constant, impulsive buying of clothes has come to a standstill. And it’s easy to understand why. With nowhere to go and people majorly working from home, there seems to be no merit in spending on that exorbitant outfit. Perhaps it’s time to declutter that closet and indulge only in conscious and minimal buying.

As opposed to an overflowing wardrobe, a conscious closet also frees a little more of the world’s resources. So what are the new wardrobe essentials in a post-pandemic world, especially one where work from home is the new normal? “It’s a great time to invest in classic, sophisticated pieces that suit your personality… a combination of understated glamour and effortless elegance that comes in breezy kaftans, tonal dresses and belted tunics,” says Delhi-based fashion designer Priyanka Modi of brand AMPM, which in June launched its collection THE SAFARI EDIT from Amah’le, a collection of timeless, artistic pieces that celebrate the progressive art, pottery, wildlife and culture of Africa. When it comes to post-pandemic buying, she says, “People will consume more consciously, check more boxes before endorsing a brand and reflect on values that support a sustainable ecosystem. In buying patterns, ethics will be as important as aesthetics and people will look for a versatile piece.”

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Expenditure on luxury buying, too, will take a back seat and products that offer durability, as well as protection will find more takers. Multinational footwear and fashion accessory retailer Bata, for instance, has curated a collection of comfortable ‘Work from Home’ shoes that can be easily sanitised without impairing the make or material. “Since fashion is an important part of our lives and people want to look presentable, work-from-home essentials like footwear and clothes will be high on comfort and fashion quotient,” says Matteo Lambert, chief collection officer, Bata.

Function first
People’s preferences are changing to more relaxed clothing, with a clear switch from fashion to function, says Ayushi Gudwani, founder, Fablestreet, a premium workwear women’s brand. “With work from home, people’s preferences are changing to more relaxed, hygienic am-to-pm pieces like knitwear… Consumers will keep the cost factor in mind while buying going ahead. The key asks would be that clothes be anti-microbial, easy to care for and capable of being worn multiple times instead of just for occasions,” she says.

As far as work-from-home comfort is concerned, a combination of structured tops and relaxed bottoms, as well as trousers and skirts would be the go-to pieces. “Fashion need not be frenetic and ever-changing with a constant demand for newness,” says a spokesperson at Goodearth, a sustainable luxury retail brand.

Effortless fashion is the call of the day, believes Modi. “Consumers are looking at natural, breathable fabrics that will help them stay comfortable through a workday. We foresee a lot of high-quality cottons, linen and chanderi. We predict tunics, tops and dhoti pants to do well,” she says.

Delhi-based designer couple Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja, too, feel that easy, comfortable and relaxed knits, linens, cottons and natural fabrics like chanderi will become the go-to choices. “Everyday-wear will be in demand, but people will also buy special-occasion clothes to add a few special pieces to their wardrobes,” says Nidhi.

While the idea of dressing in formals as one works from their couch seems unrealistic, it is also hard to deny that the appropriate wardrobe is crucial to help one stay productive. As the concept of ‘above-the-keyboard dressing’ takes off, the need for clothes in modern silhouettes and breathable fabrics can be expected to grow, says designer Hemant Sagar, one half of Delhi-based fashion brand Lecoanet Hemant.

As per Nishit Garg, vice-president, Flipkart-Fashion, choices have become more functional, as people are now working out at home too. “Loungewear, including cotton tees and pants, is in demand, as people convert their home spaces into gyms to keep fitness regimes intact. We are seeing increased searches for athleisure wear like yoga pants,” he says.

It’s a trend other players are witnessing too. “The bent is towards loungewear and comfortwear like tracks, shorts and tees,” says Pallavi Barman, head, marketing and operations at HRX, a lifestyle and fitness brand by actor Hrithik Roshan.

A major shift in buying patterns has also made people opt for online previewing and shopping. “Customers are eager to see our collection via video calls or e-lookbooks. So it is important that online shopping should have the same look and feel as that of a physical store,” says Kolkata-based Adarsh Makharia, founder-designer of Osaa by Adarsh, a line of luxury couture.

Natural & timeless
Going forward, there will be an increased demand for local and natural. “The choice is moving towards handwoven, local and natural textiles. The craft and the process of creation of the textile would be key,” says Rajeshwari Srinivasan, chief operating officer, Taneira, an ethnic clothing brand from the Titan portfolio.

Agrees Umashan Naidoo, head of cosmetics and customer, Westside: “Natural fibres in knitted fabrics prove breathable in hot weather conditions. Flowy dresses, statement tees, jumpsuits and wide-leg pants will be in demand,” he says.

Similarly, Delhi-based designer Abhinav Mishra says there’s a newfound appreciation for intricate kaarigari, handmade embroidery and ensembles that can be passed down generations. “Weddings, festivities, etc, will be smaller, more intimate affairs, and so lighter ensembles will be an obvious choice for most brides and bridesmaids,” he says, adding, “Reusability is going to be a big factor… The more versatile the elements of the ensemble, the more it will be in demand,” he says.

In May, fashion ingredient brand Liva, associated with brands like BIBA, Pantaloon, Allen Solly, etc, conducted a consumer study towards essentials-based spending with expert inputs from designer Tarun Tahiliani. The study highlighted that the need for opulent spending for weddings, parties, etc, will reduce. “The three key words moving forward in fashion would be ‘natural’, ‘durable’ and ‘biodegradable’,” says Srishti Sawhney, president and global brand head, Pulp and Fibre, Liva.

Sustainable future
From improving packaging to revamping business models to meet consumers’ conscious demands, there’s a surge in sustainable initiatives today. Taneira, for instance, follows a ‘no plastic packaging’ rule and packs its products in natural muslin bags for customers at its stores.

Modi feels that in the coming days more and more brands will reassess their narrative to consider the impact of their business on the environment. “This is the time to slow down the breakneck speed of fashion. It is only through conscientious efforts like producing less, buying local and maintaining a responsible supply chain that we can support a sustainable future for fashion,” she shares.

Going ahead, Make in India will also play a crucial role. “The origins of the garments will play a huge role as effects of Make in India brands will be seen till the grassroots, with kaarigars and labour earning their dues and respect,” says Mishra.

Tech will also make its presence felt in fashion in the near future. “One word to define the future of fashion would be smart. Fashion brands will need to embrace technology to optimise reach, overheads and marketing spends. Customers will gradually move towards smartwear… all-day apparel, athleisure, fast fashion, more sustainable and affordable fashion,” says Soumajit Bhowmik, co-founder and CEO, Styched, a unisex fast fashion brand.

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