Shades of India
What factors do you consider while designing collections for your international audience? How has the Indian fashion industry changed in the last 2 decades? At what rate is the home furnishings market growing in India?
Buyers in the US and Europe are looking for something special from India. They value handwork, texturing of fabric, a soft feel, organic fibres, and embellishment with embroideries, metallic threads and foil printing that is difficult to find outside India. Sadly price has also become a major factor which puts a big constraint on what you can do.
Cottons and voile are most preferred in the US. Silk is very difficult though, velvet sells. With Europe or East Asia, we have a wider choice of fabrics using silks, tussar, velvet, and linen. But everywhere price is now a constraint on what we can do. One way to cut costs is to use a less expensive fabric such as linen-cotton but compensate with surface treatment that looks rich but is less expensive.
The Indian fashion industry has changed a lot. The biggest change has been the arrival of western style department stores with fast fashion clothes. But paradoxically that has also given value to apparel that draws on Indian traditions but is styled in a contemporary way. Shades of India has benefited from this enormously. We have a large audience that tells us 'we only wear Shades of India'. Of course, that is an exaggeration. But it is true that many women - both young and at the height of their careers - value something that is unique, has a flavour of India and is beautifully detailed.
Indians have become more conscious about their homes. They follow contemporary trends. They also want something that is brighter in colour than the naturals beloved in Europe and the US. But they are still uncertain how to combine colours, fabrics and textures. We specialise in providing that help. Interiors are now an important part of our business.
I cannot put a percentage figure on the growth of the home furnishings market in India. But there has been lots of growth reflected in both, the new apartments and homes that have come up and in people making changes in their apartments. This growth will continue - though on a bit of a roller coaster depending on the state of the economy and the money people feel they can spend.
We have grown at about 30 per cent a year over the last two years. The coming year is very difficult to predict with so much uncertainty both here and in major markets abroad like the US and Europe. But we are very hopeful that our new brand in the US, Neem, will do very well.
Published on: 22/12/2016
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.