Too many fashion weeks spoilt the year (2010 in Retrospect)

By Shilpa Raina, IANS
Thursday, December 23, 2010

NEW DELHI - A fashion week used to be a charming and rare affair. But this year the realisation hit home that an overdose of shows is killing the real meaning of la mode, localising the industry and does not bode well for India’s Rs.5,250 million ($116 million) fashion sector.

“Fashion weeks these days are promoting every other thing, but fashion. Today, if you look around, even for a store opening, you have a fashion show. These days every second person is becoming a designer, it has just become a cakewalk,” designer Parvesh told IANS.

Veteran designer Suneet Varma feels too many fashion weeks are localising the industry.

“You won’t believe it, when fashion weeks started in India, we used to get buyers from all over the country and sometimes from places we haven’t even heard of. But now things are different. A buyer in Hyderabad won’t come to attend the fashion week in the capital because he has a fashion week in his city. These fashion weeks are doing more harm than good,” he said.

In the past few years, there has been a flurry of fashion weeks popping up from every nook and corner of the country and ruining the sanctity of fashion weeks. The frequency of city-specific fashion events has diminished the real essence of fashion week.

Hands were already full with the Chennai Fashion Week, Bangalore Fashion Week, Hyderabad Fashion Week, Kolkata Fashion Week, India International Fashion Week.

And this year there were additions with Jaipur Fashion Week and Pune Fashion Week (PFW) as well as India’s first ever India International Jewellery Week in Mumbai.

The country has also been hosting two editions of the business-to-business event, Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) in New Delhi, organised by the apex body Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), and two editions of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai for a decade now.

FDCI also hosts the Van Heusen Men’s Fashion Week and Pearls Delhi Couture Week in Delhi and the HDIL-India Couture Week in Mumbai.

With over 300 designers, the Indian fashion design industry is likely to touch Rs.7,500 million by 2012 from the current level of Rs.5,250 million as it is growing at the rate of 35 percent per annum.

But these regional fashion weeks are doing no good to the industry, experts say.

Fashion weeks were organised with an aim to generate business for designers and expose them to the intricacies of exporting and promoting their creations. But the buyers find it difficult to manage an avalanche of fashion events.

“Local fashion weeks are more client-oriented, and that too for established designers and there they repeat the collections or show something that they couldn’t at the WIFW, say, bridal wear. But we (buyers) can’t handle so many fashion weeks,” said Shagun Khanna, a buyer from the multi-designer store Ogaan.

“We need time to work, we have to plan seasons. We can’t just attend every other fashion show happening in the country. Also, the organisers drop in an invitation mail, but they never follow it up, so this proves they are not so serious about business but are focusing only on media mileage,” she said.

A designer who didn’t wish to be named told IANS that sometimes organisers pay money to an established designer to participate in their shows as this tempts not only the media but emerging designers too.

The situation is doing no good to the designers, leaving FDCI president Sunil Sethi in a fix.

“Initially, I thought it was a good thing, but later I realised I had misjudged the whole situation. I didn’t realise that standards would go down so much that people who are organising them would be doing so for their own commercial benefit and to get attention,” Sethi told IANS.

“If through these shows, they are able to generate business for the designers, then it is good, but unfortunately that is not happening, so it is doing no good to the industry,” he added.

As the country is fast losing the count of fashion events, rumours are abuzz that a Ludhiana Fashion Week is also in the pipeline.

Many feel it’s time for some rethinking, but Badal Saboo, managing director of PFW, begs to differ saying city-specific fashion weeks are helping designers reach out to the untapped market.

“what happens is that if you want to buy designer clothes, you either go to his or her store or else go to WIFW or LFW to see the trend, but if the cities are coming up with local fashion weeks, it is giving people there a chance to splurge on designer clothes,” he said.

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at

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