Cover StoryDesigner’s Diary

Canvas of Contrasts

The pandemic has had an adverse effect on the fashion industry. With festivals not being celebrated due to restrictions, fashion designers were not able to have the sales that crowd attraction that is common during festivities. COLORS catches up with the founder of Warah, Rumana Chowdhury on how the fashion industry is operating during these times.

Rumana Chowdhury

Unprecedented Learnings

Industries across the world have been rocked by the pandemic. And each industry had to deal with a unique problem. However, the troubles for the fashion industry are not easy to resolve or comprehend. “The lockdowns meant that Eid and Pohela Boishakh did not have the glitz and glamour we were used to. The restrictions meant we had to stay inside, and this in turn, for fashion designers such as ourselves, we didn’t create the art we usually do. Many weren’t able to display their latest designs for the inherent pessimism created by the pandemic,” Rumana Chowdhury highlights. It is heart-wrenching when passions are not always expressed in bold manners. Rumana feels attuned to this feeling and understands the dilemma well. The shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online stores is a significant change. However, Warah did not face the quintessential problems that usually take place. “Even in the lockdowns, we did not face stock shortages. We were still able to cater to our clients with sincerity.” However, these benefits came with opportunity costs for Warah and Rumana. Previously when customers visited stores, they would be trying quite a few dresses and end up purchasing quite a few of the tried clothing. When they return to the store again for exchanges or for sizing up clothes, that would ripple into further purchases as well. These domino purchases were the biggest assets of stores. In the digital market, consumers are specifically looking for clothes and picking only those which they need. This shift in preferences has led to the volume of sales fall. “The pandemic has definitely taught me to organize and streamline my entire business process. The differences in offline and online stores have made me more conscientious on how to cater to my client base.” 

Online Blessings Expanded Worldwide

The debate over online shopping and brick-and-mortar shopping is a never-ending debate to loom over. For Rumana Chowdhury, physical stores and online stores both hold their own versions of limitations. “We do not have a standardized size for clothes. Brands have their own version of measurement. This clearly clouds measurements for the people. We ask our clients to send a picture of their clothes on a flat surface and measure out the clothing for fitting. However, physically measuring the clothes is something that is the best way to figure out one’s comfort.” Catering to clients as per their wishes is what Warah keeps delivering. Moreover, delivering clothes on time has become a barrier for Rumana from time to time. To solve this, he hired her own delivery personnel, to ensure timely delivery. The online market has also opened doors for Warah. Currently, Warah ships to many countries. USA, Australia, UK, and Canada have developed a following for Rumana’s expressive designs. 

To meet all these growing demands, it became important to protect the workers who produced these amazing clothing. “We were lucky that our staff were in Dhaka and were able to generate the outputs necessary. We were able to meet deadlines solely from the perseverance of our staff. Working with 50 percent of the workforce, meant we needed to create an environment of safety for all.” Ensuring the safety of Warah’s staff and still producing showed the dedication to the craft.

Rumana Chowdhury holds the off-white color close to her heart

Art in the eyes of beholder and wearer

The lockdown opened something unforeseen for the Bangladeshi fashion industry. “Previously, everyone used to visit abroad to buy clothing. However, now, being locked in meant, they couldn’t purchase foreign clothing. This made fashion enthusiasts check local brands and local fashion designers. People have begun to explore the fashion industry of Bangladesh, and this speaks about quality being recognized for what they stand for.” 

Rumana Chowdhury has an approach to her creation. In her designs for Bidya Sinha Saha Mim and COLORS, her entire template for the designs revolved around vibrance and expressive palate. Rumana sees the base of off-white as her own canvas. A base that she can express vibrance, energy, and refreshing. The off-white palate creates contrast with all colors, creating a mixture of bold, yet soothing expressions all over, a setup that Rumana Chowdhury finds as her own world. The designs had her signature golden khari touch that marks the creativity that Rumana is known for.

Designer’s Passion and Realizations

Rumana Chowdhury is the National Secretary General of JCI Bangladesh. JCI offers connections to the brilliant minds that are working in their respective industries. Learning to be the best from the best These groupings and institutions allow young minds to learn the trade and understand how the professional world works. And starting from a very young age, Rumana Chowdhury has equipped herself with the necessary tools to be an ever-present figure in her respective industry.

“The pandemic has taught every individual a valuable lesson. Nothing is certain except for the uncertain.” These words have changed the mindset of Rumana, not only to conduct her business in a different way, rather in a way that future shocks do not overwhelm. Being creative, expressive, and catering to one’s audience should be the aim and Rumana wants to live by doing all these, through her works Warah.

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