It has been heartbreaking, with almost every person in India being affected by the current Covid-19 outbreak. It feels like the system has failed, and the burden seems to rest on our frontline workers.
But sometimes it is the very little things that we, as normal citizens do that matter--it is heartening to see how members of the Indian fashion community have responded, pivoting from commerce to compassion, from critiquing to community building.
Fashion influencers such as Amrita Thakur (with a following of 1,14,000), Rasna Bhasin (with almost 1,00,000 followers) and Sherry Shroff (with almost 2,50,000 followers) are among those using their social media as a platform for Covid-19 resource, and have put all their other activations on hold for the time being.
They have used Instagram as a helpline to give information of where beds, oxygen, plasma and other medical supplies can be found. They have verified the source, and are also sharing requests from followers who are in need of medical aid for themselves or for a loved one. Verifying, updating and amplifying posts is a full-time job that requires dedication and determination. The information they have put out there has helped many people and hopefully even saved lives.
Talent management firm Peoplekind, run by Praachi Kapse, was among the first companies to use their platform to disseminate information around the outbreak, encouraging many of her much-followed influencer clients to do the same. Their hustle brings hope that India can and will get through this moment.
Fashion designers like Anita Dongre and 431-88's Shweta Kapur have curated crowdsourced guides on how to donate, where to donate to and how to become a volunteer. (And thank you, as this information helped me find the right NGO to make a contribution to.) Several fashion publications have chimed in with ELLE, Grazia and Vogue India putting out crowdsource lists of how to cope with Covid-19, from verified mental health services to where you can find home cooked healthy meals in case you are at home and isolating alone.
Then there are the independent fashion journalists, stylists and commentators who have kept us updated on insightful and informative media reports, opinions and other useful information. Founders of two of the fashion's most reputable PR agencies Longform India and Peepul Consulting, have also been using their personal Instagram accounts to put their own edits of the material coming in from members of the industry. These fashion folks have understood social media responsibility and this trend has thankfully trickled down and impacted how much of India's fashion set is using social media. This is a time to come together, broadcast relevant facts and also to uplift.
So here is a big shout to all those who have shown that fashion can be kind and empathetic, often this is an industry that is highly competitive, and one which enjoys living in its own bubble. However, fashion is most relevant when it reflects social, cultural and political moments and issues. Besides its significant contribution to the economy and society, fashion is an industry whose influence can have impact.
Over the past couple of years fashion has focused on becoming thoughtful, conscious and responsible when it comes to dealing fashion conversations, production and consumption. It is now time for the trade to be serious about these sentiments, and prove this not just another hashtag.
Of course, if seeing all these posts is overwhelming, then do take a break for social media--being kind to yourself has never been more important than it is now!