2008 - year of consolidation for India’s fashion world (Yearender - 20)

December 30th, 2008 - 1:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) Split, slugfest and consolidation - that about sums up the state of India’s fashion world in 2008.For the first time, the industry witnessed six major fashion weeks - totally all of 30 days - and there is ample room for a few more in the coming years.

Thus, the industry witnessed two editions of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI)-organised Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) and two editions of the Lakme Fashion Week. Then there was FDCI’s inaugural India Couture Week and new body Fashion Foundation of India’s (FFI) Delhi Fashion Week. Interspersed in between were events like Bridal Asia, the Vivah marriage show and the multi-city Chivas Fashion Tour.

What 2008 will also be remembered for is the split in the FDCI with Sumeet Nair stepping down as its executive director and Sunil Sethi taking over as its president.

After some shadow boxing, the gloves finally came off in October when Nair’s FFI organised its inaugural Delhi Fashion Week on the same dates as the spring/summer edition of WIFW. And, as the dust settled, it became apparent that the designers would gain the most as the multiple fashion weeks present a bundle of opportunities to young designers as now they have choices and different platforms to showcase their creative skills.

Also, with the top five designers shifting from FDCI to the Delhi Fashion Week, five from the middle rung will move up the ladder, leaving space for a fresh lot to occupy the space.

As they say, now there is room for everyone.

Veteran designer Ritu Kumar believes it is a win-win situation for everyone.

“Every one is benefited by these multiple fashion weeks, especially the younger lot, as they now have plenty of choices and there is business for everyone,” Ritu told IANS.

However, designer Leena Singh of the Ashima-Leena duo feels that the split is the worst that could have happened in the industry and she still hopes for the togetherness of the fashion fraternity.

“I do not believe in the divide. I still believe we are a family and it’s just a matter of time before we will be together again,” Leena maintained.

Young designer Priyanjali Dhanjal was upbeat over the turn of events.

“Opportunities were always there but now we have a choice. All these fashion shows cater to different platforms and designers now know which platform will display their creativity at its best,” Dhanjal maintained.

In terms of business, the first half of the year was very positive but the second half witnessed the economic downturn and this had its impact on the fashion world too.

With the FDCI and Lakme events having firmly established themselves, it was time to move into new areas.

This FDCI did with the India Couture Week in Mumbai featuring 11 eminent designers - Anamika Khanna, Ashish Soni, J.J. Valaya, Manish Malhotra, Manav Gangwani, Pallavi Jaikishen, Ritu Kumar, Rohit Bal, Suneet Verma, Tarun Tahiliani and Varun Behl - participating in the gala event.

“This was not a buyer-oriented event. Here the emphasis was more on individual clients than on large buyers. In the coming years, we expect individual clients to conduct one-on-ones with designers to place their orders,” FDCI’s Sethi explained of the concept.

On its part, the Fashion Foundation of India conducted the Delhi Fashion Week with top-notchers like Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Anamika Khanna, Raghvendra Rathore, Gaurav Gupta, Varun Sardana, Malini Ramani showcasing their works.

The coming year too will be eventful as FDCI is planning to organise India’s first Men’s Fashion Week despite the economic meltdown.

“The global meltdown has definitely hit our niche market, but as a fashion body we have to find different ways of generating business for our designers,” Sethi elaborated.

That’s what consolidation is all about.

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