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One size doesn’t fit all: Diversity plays a major role in the fashion industry

Thursday October 28, 2021, By Manasa Sai Sekar

Covering a large and diverse customer base, the fashion industry plays an important role in making societies inclusive.

Spanning gender, age, ethnicity, etc., the industry has the potential to create a better society. There are several proverbs from across cultures that acknowledge clothes as an integral part of personality.

The need to be diverse

Being diverse is the only way forward for the fashion industry because it thrives on people’s delight. While the industry takes pride in its product offerings and choices, sometimes it doesn’t consider their needs in terms of product and service. Amid people who walk out of the store happy with a purchase, some consumers leave never wanting to return because they did not feel included.

Inclusion has multiple aspects and comprises:

-Availability of clothes based on their body type

-Availability of sizes

-Availability of clothes based on wearable factors

-Biases exhibited by the front-liners during their store visit

Avtar, which is committed to helping companies incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion at different levels to enhance their growth, has been focusing on unconscious bias and gender sensitization within an organization. These are important aspects that govern customer service in the industry as demonstrated in recent times. A few years ago, a customer in Mumbai wrote an open letter to a store after being told by the salesperson that the person had to lose weight if she had to find a dress that fits her. It is not a one-off incident because it reflects the biases surrounding beauty and acceptance of only certain body types deeply entrenched in society over time.

Keeping pace with needs

The strategy of the fashion industry keeps changing every hour because consumers’ preferences keep changing. The industry focuses on the big picture like catering to different markets, making it affordable, taking care of returns, damages, etc. However, treating consumers properly when they visit the store, manufacturing garments based on Indian body types, making sure the front-liners or service providers do not look down upon a consumer because of their size and color are equally important.

Some ways to incorporate diversity and inclusion at a basic level:

-Making impromptu store visits to understand the biases exhibited by the service providers.

-Making an in-person market visit to understand if consumers can wear a garment casually or will they be subject to cultural biases.

-Understanding consumers’ body type to check if the existing garments will flatter them.

At a corporate level, recruiting various genders as manufacturers, incorporating managers to perform an on-ground market analysis of different genders, receiving feedback from consumers who now dislike a product they once liked will put a company ahead of the rest.

In recent times, the fashion industry has come forward to embrace diversity— opting for models who do not conform to the slim body type, celebrating all skin colors, and roping in transgender models. However, there is still a long way to go before discrimination and racist representation are eliminated.

Author Profile

Manasa Sai Sekar
Manasa Sai Sekar
A Senior Consultant from Consulting & Solutions team at Avtar, has worked in four different industries such as Retail, Telecommunication, Agriculture, and HealthCare.

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