Sukhneet Wadhwa Gujral talks about how the fashion industry has changed in the last decade and what role social media has played in it. Scroll down to read her insightful inputs.
Over the last decade, the Indian fashion industry has undergone a significant transformation, with a surge in creativity, innovation, and experimentation. One of the major drivers of this transformation has been social media. Not only that made fashion, much more accessible to people but also helped brands in connecting better with their audience. Social media has also given rise to new fashion influencers who have the power to influence consumer choices and shape fashion trends. And with such elements, fashion has become more diverse, inclusive, and accessible, with designers and brands embracing new technologies, sustainable practices, and global trends. How social media is being a space for creativity and conversation is amazing. We wanted to dive deeper into the subject. So, we reached out to Sukhneet Wadhwa Gujral who has been working in the digital space for the last 10 years. We had a brisk chat on the fashion industry and social media, let's take a look at her insightful inputs.
Let's take a look at what she had to share:
How would you say the fashion industry has changed over the past decade? And how has social media impacted the fashion industry?
I think the industry has gone through a complete 360° change. The consumers have become so aware and we have started to think about factors like sustainability, diversity, inclusion and things like that. Of course, social media had a role to play in this as it has disrupted the entire model of traditional retail. And the kind of technology we have now has changed how we shop. We can order something today and we can get it in 2-3 days which has also contributed to fast fashion. Through social media, the brands found it easier to reach out to consumers and built a better relationships with them and it has become much more interactive. One more thing I would like to add is the contribution of creators in making it all happen. Earlier, fashion Magazines were one way by which brands used to connect to their consumers but now we have creators who play a pivotal role in sending information about fashion.
How have consumer attitudes towards fashion changed in recent years, and what factors have contributed to these changes?
We have all evolved as consumers and the shift in our understanding and consumption of fashion is clearly visible. We have become more aware and that's why we also talk about the ethical factors of the brand as well. Even when a brand reaches out to me for collaborations, I ask them if it's a brand image-related campaign or a sales campaign, and the content is planned accordingly if the brand ethics don't align with my personal morals, I can't do it as people have become more aware. There is a visible impact that creators have on consumers. If you walk into a collection of luxury brands, you won't see those clothes on realistic bodies but on social media, you can always find someone you relate to. So, this makes content creators more approachable. Even when it comes to campaigns, social media is the best tool for brands to send their message across.
How has the rise of e-commerce and online shopping affected the way people shop and what impact does it have on the industry?
I think the boom of E-Commerce and online shopping has given a rise to fast fashion. As I have mentioned earlier, it has disrupted the whole idea of traditional retail. Traditionally you have to take some time off your schedule to go shopping but now this technology brings convenience with itself. For brands, this has opened the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and be more inclusive. When we say inclusion, it isn't only about being inclusive of genders or ages but also to reach out to the demographically wider zones. So, overall it's a great drive. As a consumer, I'm getting options and convenience that will ultimately upgrade my shopping experience. If we talk about the downside, it has raised some problems for traditional retail as people would rather sit in their homes and shop. It has also given rise to the fast fashion culture.
How have sustainability and ethical concerns affected the fashion industry over the past decade?
So, yes a lot of brands want to appear good and connect with their consumers. We as consumers have become more selective than ever and we only go for brands that align with our principles. But I think some brands are using these terms as jargon to just appear good rather than actually aligning with those principles. There was recently hype around rental schemes of high-end clothing. The term here was "reusing". So whenever someone rents out a particular piece of clothing, they have to go through a very long process of traveling, cleaning, packaging, etc. and it all takes a lot of resources. Of course, travel is causing a good amount of carbon footprint but the brands make it look ethical. Many beauty brands claim to be "sulfate free" but not all sulfates are bad and it is questionable when brands send out only half the information. The rise of social media has made us more aware of such topics and we expect the brands to do more actual work than claims.
Can you provide some examples of brands or designers that have successfully adapted to the changing landscape of the fashion industry?
How brands use social media can be an example of it. Big fashion shows are being put out exclusively on social media for people to see. Some brands do not do fashion shows much but they do show their presence through social media campaigns. So our dependency on social media to get information and a brand's dependency on social media to be visible is at its peak. For a brand, social media can make you and break you also as the audience is super sensitive. A recent example of it can be the Balenciaga controversy. So, brands are understanding well that they have to be considerate of what they are putting on the table. They are also making them technologically more accessible. A decade back, many brands didn't have their own website but now you cannot keep it running without one. If your brand doesn't have something as basic as a social media handle, people won't take you seriously. It gives a perception that you are not taking time to understand your audience and are traditional in your ways.
In your opinion, what trends do you see emerging in the fashion industry in the next few years?
The thing with trends is they are not here for a long time. So, we cannot exactly predict what is going to happen in the next few years but in my opinion, people will love high-quality tailored outfits rather than cheap fast fashion pieces but it's just my opinion. I would like to add a point here that the prevalence of social media in India has also impacted the lifespan of trends. Earlier, what has emerged on the other side of the world used to take time to reach here but that's not the case now. We can almost immediately know what is happening on any side of the globe and there is so much happening everywhere that most of the trends die out pretty quickly. In my opinion, finding your own niche is more important than following what others are doing. We come across so many influencers daily but only a few names manage to stick to our heads. If everybody starts following the same thing, there won't be anything unique about anyone. It is important for you to stand out for what you believe in.
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