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Fashion week was fun, but what about business?

Industry voices share their take on the FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week, India’s first big physical fashion event in two years

The opening show by designer Rahul Mishra
The opening show by designer Rahul Mishra

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There was something puzzling about the shows at the recent FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week. While some designers showed spring/summer collections, others sent out fall/winter pieces. You could call it trans-seasonal, but the collections also ranged from couture to premium pret and ready-to-wear. Alongside all this, a lot of designers chose to showcase collections that had been on their Instagram feeds for months.

Figures on sale volumes and revenue from the event may not be in yet but everyone agrees it was a confusing season. It was also disappointing to see old collections. So much so that some are now wondering about the point of it all. Divyam Mehta, who showcased his fall/winter 2022 collection, explains part of the problem: “As an industry, we need to be more streamlined about seasons and categories.”

“The glory days of the fashion week of a decade ago seem to be over,” says Rasika Wakalkar, a buyer from Rudraksh, a multi-designer store in Pune, Maharashtra. “There was no consistency in terms of seasonality. Of course, one must take into account that India has a stronger wedding season in fall/winter than the typical fashion seasons, in which case it may be redundant to visit the fashion week at all in spring/summer if this persists. It may make sense to directly be in touch with designers that we have been working with over the years or focus on the Couture Week,” she adds.

Others are kinder. “We also live in very confusing times,” says Aparna Badlani, creative designer at Aza, a multi-designer store. “People have pushed their weddings and celebrations to an extent where no one wants to wait any longer.... No one is willing to wait for a few months. I am guessing a lot of the designers have showcased keeping these factors in mind. There is no wedding season any more as weddings are happening all through the year. People are travelling at any opportunity they get. So designs and collections have become trans-seasonal. There was also less time for designers to plan their collections for a showcase, so the confusion, for this season in particular, is justified.” But she, too, was disappointed to see old collections. “It’s such a pity. Coming back after two years to a physical format should have propelled designers to at least have a few completely new segments, if not an entire collection,” she says.

Isn’t it a mandate to showcase a fresh collection on the runway? There were challenges, defends Jaspreet Chandok, head, lifestyle businesses, at RISE Fashion and Lifestyle, the event’s main organisers: The Omicron wave, for one, continued into early February. “The fact that the industry has been able to come together and put together an event at this scale, and designers have been able to create full collections, is something to be celebrated,” he says, pointing to the trend of sponsored shows that enable scale. The presentation format too, he argues, was more interactive and disruptive.

“We had several international buyers coming in from Singapore, the US, London, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Senegal,” says FDCI chairman Sunil Sethi. “Some designers were extremely happy with the business and others mentioned it’s picking up.” Clearly, though, some introspection is needed.

Also read: Our coverage of the FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week

Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based journalist and digital creator.

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