Fashion Fables
ISBN 9788119316212





Life is a journey – one laden with ups & downs, learnings & lessons, experiences & anecdotes… And to be able to share them with the world is a rewarding experience, something that I have been thinking of doing for a long, long time.

My writing journey started during the pandemic, when I finally put pen to paper and started developing a chapter on

Initially, I strung together a few words, out of the massive archive of my learnings & experiences from the Indian Fashion industry, but today, those chapters have taken the shape of this book.

I wanted to write not because I am a wordsmith, but because I wanted to share my learnings with others, in the hope that it will help them navigate this ever-changing fashion industry.

In this industry, there is no formula for success and, most of the times, 1+1 is not 2. Nonetheless, experiences help you navigate these uncertainties better.

But do you need to make your own mistakes to learn?

I believe not. For intelligent is the person who can learn from others’ mistakes too.

But how will that happen when no one really writes in this industry?

Don’t get me wrong. There are many books written about the fashion industry but next to none talk about the back end or the unattractive aspects of this industry.

We talk about beautiful designs made by the brands & the designers, but seldom do we speak about the merchandisers who, painstakingly, ensure that the designs reach the shop floor for you to buy.

If we look back, in most ancient cultures, lessons were initially passed on verbally for generations and later, at some point, written down; I would like this book to be a start in the furtherance of the written word.

The future professionals need not repeat the mistakes my counterparts & I have made and learnt, that in many ways, shaped the industry the way it is today.

I have been a part of the fashion industry for more than 30 years now and have seen fashion through a completely different lens. For you to understand my writing, learnings and experiences, you must understand what ‘Fashion’ really means to me.

To the world it is synonymous with ART; It’s a trend and an expression of creativity.

But to me, fashion is nothing but a ‘business mechanism’ - one that creates a demand when there is no actual need for it.

Shocking! Isn’t it?

But this is the truth.


Let’s deep dive into the history of fashion and analyse how it has worked on the mass psyche and how it dominates and dictates consumerism, forcing unsuspecting people to be a part of this journey of evolving fashion trends.

According to me, fashion, in yesteryears, was about quality, colours and craftsmanship. This, however, had a narrow audience; it was only restricted to the royal or the noble classes. To the masses, clothes were mostly a necessity, something to cover the body with & protect it against weather changes.

Fashion, in those times, was mostly centered around what the human hand could create. It was the artisans that were highly regarded for the skills they possessed - be it the exquisite seamstresses of France or the fine cotton weavers of India.

It’s interesting to note, that India was the largest producer and exporter of fine cotton fabric in the 1800’s which occupied a 23-25% share of India’s GDP. India was renowned for its fine quality & craftsmanship.

But with the passing years, the scenario changed.


The industrial revolution gave rise to ‘Fashion Retail’ as we see it today.

It replaced the human hand with machines and started large scale production of fabrics. Lakhs of metres would be produced on these machines, monthly. This led to surplus or excessive production - a much higher supply than there was demand for.

Now, the industrialists, who had heavily invested in setting up of these factories, had to sell their goods failing which they would incur losses. A direct conclusion for this problem was that they needed to create a market for their product. Thus, came in the practice of creating artificial demand in the clothing industry. All thoughts and mechanisms focused on how to make people buy more clothes when they do not even need it.

Seasonal clothing, which was a mere practical need due to shift in weather conditions, became a trend paradigm. The industry started telling people that they need to wear deeper & darker colours during winters and brighter and cheerful ones during summer. The ‘chintz pink’ from this summer was getting replaced by ‘paloma pink’ for the next summer. The winter coat from last year became outdated because it was not done in the colour for this year.

Though, largely, a western concept, this seeped into the fashion retail space world over with globalisation. Even in tropical countries, like India, we were made to believe that summer & winter calls for different fabrics, colours and silhouettes.

Slowly, the designers got replaced by big brands, who projected trends for the coming seasons, made millions of pieces, advertised and told people what they need to wear to stay in tune with trends.

Over the many years, fashion became for the masses and a social need to abide by, failing which one would be looked down upon.

So, what started as a demand and supply mechanism by the industrialists became a social dictate of today. Being fashionable became a need. Thereby, buying fashionable clothes became a necessity…

The brands have come up with different creative solutions to ensure they keep selling more & more. Even a sturdy garment like jeans, which is meant to be worn for years, is reinvented every year. The ‘mid-rise skinny fit’, that was popular two years ago, has now been replaced by the ‘high-rise flare fit’. This, clubbed with higher purchasing power of the consumers, has created a new-age phenomenon - one lead by ‘Fast Fashion’.

When I look back at my childhood, I do not remember buying clothes as often as we do now. We mostly bought clothes around festival times or special occasions like a wedding in the family or a birthday.

In fact, we took pride in our ‘pass-me-downs’. The clothes passed on from the older to the younger siblings, mom’s saree passed on as wedding trousseau or father-in-law’s pashmina shawl passed on to the son-in-law, were prized possessions.

Those were the days when fabric was bought and thoughtfully stitched from the neighborhood tailor. After that, ready-made garments came into vogue, permeating the landscape of India and the rest of the globe as well. This, devastatingly, affected the buying pattern of the people. Suddenly, we started producing, buying and wearing clothes that we did not need.

A little bit of research in this context leads us to some shocking revelations.

A typical household in the USA in the 1950’s and 1960’s used to throw away 12 garments a year, and today that number stands at 65 garments a year, some of which are worn once or never.

Today, fashion has gone beyond clothes and jewellery. Look at mobile phones for an example… and I must admit, I am no less a victim of this!

I remember buying my first iPhone in 2009. Ever since, the world has seen a new iPhone model launch every year and I, myself, have bought a new one every 2 or 3 years, irrespective of the fact that my old iPhone works well, maybe even as efficiently as the newer one, yet I succumb to the idea of having that new phone in my hand. I know many, like me, do succumb to the desire of owning that new piece of technology. Maybe because we feel better. Buying a phone, in today’s world, is as important in creating a fashion statement as buying trendy garments.

Gone are the days when the brands divided their calendars into two seasons; today we talk about nimble supply chain, where brands can launch new collections every 15 days, coaxing the customer to buy more and more to stay relevant. They dictate the market by stating, “this autumn these colours of Fall will sell” or “this winter parka or a trench coat or anorak would sell”.

Consumers keep coming back trying to find clothes matching the trend and, inevitably, buy. Interestingly, the concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) acted as a bigger pull in this scenario.


With the passing of time, the practice of seasonality became the DNA of the fashion industry. At universities, students were taught to work on seasons; professionals were taught to plan such too.

In fact, fashion forecasting agencies are a mainstay of the fashion industry today. Huge amounts of money and time are spent on researching and putting together reports that tell us what is going to sell 2 years from now - the colours, silhouettes, fabrics and more. The designers and buyers base their seasonal work on these predictions.

What we are essentially doing is – ‘Forecasting’. We are creating an inventory basis what will sell 2 years from now and such assumptions.

Based on this, the unique method of ‘spray and pray’ came about. Make goods, send it to 200 stores, put up some ads and pray that someone would come and buy those goods.

And this is the real villain of our industry!

Inventory eats up the capital in this industry. The brands stock huge inventory in the hope to sell the goods and make money. The problem is that everything is based on prediction and most of us have no clue what will sell.

Many a times, in my experience, our predictions have miserably failed. What we thought would be a hit product turned out to be a failure that forced us to incur losses due to liquidation.

The advent of social media has made this worse. We are in a situation where brands have lost their power to force trends on consumers. Today, consumers make their own trends. It is, after all, the age of the creators and not followers.

Buying behaviour has completely changed and brands, today, are unable to forecast what the consumer will buy and from where. Consumers, who looked at brands for education on fashion trends, are now becoming the educators themselves, defining trends as they go. The forecasting model, in this scenario, is completely out of sync. How can one predict what the consumer will wear 2 years ahead when trends change daily?

This unpredictability of forecast method clubbed with the economies of scale makes inventory the biggest evil of this industry.

So, I ask - does making 5000 pieces of a product make sense?


With the advent of social media and technology, fashion retail has also seen a shift. Most consumers, these days, are purchasing through phones, tablets or laptops from the convenience of their homes. This enables the brands to engage with the consumers on a daily basis. And that’s where the new-age, tech-driven fashion brands are breaking the mould. They look at fashion retail very differently.

The hard-coded system of seasons and all, on which the fashion industry is primarily built, does not matter to them.

They have built a new age supply chain where only 50-150 pieces of a style may be manufactured. The images of these are put out on social media and their respective websites. And if they sell, they make more of those - killing the inventory evil and limiting their losses in the form of liquidation and capital that is stuck.


When brands manufacture what is sold, it is called the ‘Pull-based Strategy’, which is diametrically opposite to the ‘Push-based Strategy’, where the brands decide what to make and push into the market.

In the pull-based strategy, only what’s sold is made, reducing the inventory burden to a minimal, thereby reducing the losses for the business. The equation is simple: less inventory equals to less capital invested and less inventory also equals to less liquidation.

The methodology, used by these brands, is simple: hold fabric as inventory, create a sample, showcase to the consumers, and make when the order comes in.

In some cases, the brands choose to make 50-150 pieces in the style and make more of it as the sale happens.

Basically, if there is demand, the brands will supply.

This strategy is further evolving as new-age brands adopt technology to replace the process of creating a sample and doing a photoshoot. They are now creating 3D or virtual models of the garment, putting it up on social media to garner responses and then manufacturing the garments. By doing so, it further reduces the inventory risk and heightens the probability of success.

As the consumers evolve, new technology comes to the forefront and so do, brands and the fashion retail spaces.

In the coming chapters, we will dwell further into these concepts but before doing so, it was imperative to understand what fashion retail really was, is and will be in the future.

Overall, the fashion retail industry has evolved over all these years. But most of these learnings are not written down and passed on. This book is my endeavour to doing so.