(L toR) Rohan Gupta, Owner and Managing Director; Ravi Gupta, Owner and Creative Director in their Store based in- New Friends Colony, New Delhi.
Image: Courtesy Gargee Designers
The flavour of the season, asserts Ravi Gupta, is not mithai
(sweets). “It’s Kapaas Kawach
(cotton mask),” smiles the celeb designer and founder of Delhi-based bespoke luxury fashion brand Gargee Designer’s. The luxury industry, he stresses, is still badly reeling under the impact of Covid. The marriage season, interestingly, is turning out to be a silver lining for the fashion industry. There is a twist, though. “What’s trending this season are luxury masks made of cotton,” says Gupta, whose father started a custom tailoring store in 1980. Gupta joined in 2015, and the revenue of the company now stands at Rs 5 crore. “Business is no longer the same,” he rues. “But the marriage season is a big blessing,” he says, adding that wedding masks as high as Rs 10,000 apiece are in huge demand. Edited excerpts from an interview:
How hard has the luxury segment been hit by the pandemic? Is it limping back to normalcy?
It will take time. The impact was as hard as a body blow. But fortunately, things are slowly coming back on track. Though the core fashion industry will take time to revive, there is a new vertical created by the pandemic: Masks. With the upcoming festive and marriage season, the demand for masks—customised and luxury—has hit the roof. While corporates are using masks as a gifting option for this season—boxes of three and six—demand for wedding masks has gathered steam. With a relaxation in the norms relating to congregation during weddings, there is an uptick. In fact, they have become a new fashion statement for the bride’s and groom’s families who are using uniform masks for guests.
Was it a survival strategy to start selling masks?
Late March, when the country went under lockdown, it became clear that it won’t be over in a few weeks. It kept getting extended. And with every extension, not only business but also the income of workers was getting impacted. It was a question of everybody’s survival. Obviously, we had to think of something to be in the game. Masks were an obvious choice. We started with a few hundreds, and then began getting bulk orders from companies—banks, police department and IT companies—as well as from individual consumers. So far, we have sold close to 4 lakh masks. Now on an average, we are selling one lakh masks every month. And the numbers are set to rise over the next few months. In fact, we are getting orders from across the country, mostly from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Southern India.
But why cotton luxury masks?
Cotton is a natural fibre, biodegradable and eco-friendly. It is the most comfortable fibre to be worn on the face as it is breathable, helps in low heat build-up and minimal eyewear fogging. It is also low maintenance, easily washable and can be reused multiple times. When you add the utilitarian side of the cotton with style, it adds swag. We believe in sustainable luxury, and nothing comes closer to cotton.
Did you also rejig your business or added new verticals to tide over the crisis?
Yes, we added more services. The first one was what we call ‘travelling tailor’. We have a loyal set of customers, and we started servicing them by providing them with customised tailoring service at their doorstep. We also started virtual styling service, which involves fixing virtual appointments with clients through Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp, and offering style solutions. This service is even availed by customers outside India who are planning their weddings in November and December.