Vice-president & Head of Fashion IMG Reliance
What are India's strengths and weaknesses as far as Indian fashion and designers are concerned?
I'd focus on the strengths as I've mentioned.
Have several fashion weeks in India diluted the business and turned it into a moneymaking racket and a tamasha? Publications, small suburbs and remote towns are organising fashion weeks which are more like exhibitions. Has the term 'fashion week' lost its seriousness?
If some entrepreneurs and businesses feel that they can leverage the fashion industry and create a viable model, then more power to them. Most of these events are ancillary and aid local designers. We don't really feel our property will get diluted whether there are 10 or 100 other fashion weeks, weekends or events.
Some so called 'Weeks' are for two or three days. Your views on what it is doing to the fashion industry.
I think the only fashion weeks that matter are done by the Fashion Design Council of India and IMG Reliance. The others are peripheral to any major conversation on the growth of Indian fashion.
You have been in charge of IMG Reliance organising LFW since Winter/ Festive 2016. What changes have you brought in the four seasons that you have organised?
I have been fortunate to have the support of an incredibly efficient team who put forth path breaking ideas season after season. The mandate is to break new ground, innovate, push the boundaries and create narratives that are relevant to a large set of stakeholders. We have converted the event from an "exclusive" to an "inclusive" property.
What is your vision for fashion in India?
To have multiple large designer houses as leading retailers across the world.
The dates for LFW have been moved from March to February and from September to August. Has this helped in the business opportunities both for the local and the global markets?
Yes, this is to aid the B2B side of the "in-season" format providing enough time for designer collections in stores.
What is LFW doing to attract new buyers?
More engagements with designer stores beyond fashion week; focus on international buyers especially from the Middle East and a much larger venue supporting a better showroom space (at least for the February edition).
IMG Reliance took designers for London Fashion Week and had an installation for which they won an award. What is the follow-up on that?
After we won the best country award for the exhibit we (IMG Reliance) curated along with five young designers, we once again showcased at London Fashion Week taking three of these designers to showcase their collections in the buyer area called the "LFW Showroom". Now it's for the designers to leverage the access we have created to grow their business.
Designers need to go corporate to really make it big. Not quite happening in India. Why? And what is the solution?
All designer brands in India are still first generation, due to which designers do not want to let go of equity nor do they want someone else to have a say in their business and design. There is certainly interest from partners to engage, however the designers need to be more open minded and flexible on the possibilities.
How has your experience with Wills Lifestyle helped in guiding LFW?
Just a better understanding on each facet of a fashion event. I started as a bouncer for the VIP Lounge as a trainee. We've been able to look at the event from a partner's perspective, and hence have seen significant growth in revenues as well.
Why is there no Indian high street label that can create a buzz like Zara, Gap, and H&M can?
Fabindia is a ₹1,000 crore brand. AND as well as Global Desi lead in sales in most competitive environments. Most of the Madura Garments brands are market leaders. So, Indian brands do hold up quite strongly against international competition in the high street space.
You have watched and been involved in the Indian fashion scene for several years now. Do you think the retail business is at times to blame for the fashion business being where it is, since designers have to still give on consignment basis?
I've seen most large format multi-brand businesses over a period of time move from outright to consignment, whether it was large format retailers such as Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop or more recently all the e-commerce platforms. Eventually, the market reality is that once demand outstrips supply, the retailer or "supplier" will hold the upper hand. Designers will have to create differentiation and consumer pull to genuinely be able to ensure buyers come searching for their products to reverse the trend.
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