Fashion, fun, glitterati and the rolling cameras capturing every little move and mood, dominated the Lakme India Fashion Week on Wednesday. However, behind the glamour and glitz, was the business objective - make good deals. As Rina Dhaka puts it candidly, "I have been able to clinch an appointment with one of the buyers the first thing in the morning."
The mood was upbeat among media, buyers, designers and of course the sponsors. While the television channels stormed the glitterati for exclusive 'piece to cameras' on style to the business aspect, the designers and buyers were busy fixing the appointments. For the sponsors, lifestyle remains the best platform for brand building exercise. Sanjeev Shukla, Manager-Marketing, Hyundai, said, "The fact is that this is not just a fashion event. This is a premier event, which brings in all the prospective consumers who want an upmarket lifestyle under one roof. We are using this event to build brand saliency and at the same time inform customers of our launch of Tucson."
Interestingly, one common thought that was expressed by the designers present at the show was the need for fashion industry to consolidate itself into one strong business entity. Fashion Diva Ritu Kumar said, "We are getting there. It is true that individual designers make it big in this industry but the effort from Lakme is binding the designers as Indian style divas. Our fashion industry does face major competition from international arena in quality and pricing, which is the reason why such trade platforms are welcome."
Rohit Bal also said that there is an absolute need for the fashion industry to consolidate and this is a welcome move. However, Dhaka rationalises the issue and said 'give it time'. She said, "It takes years to build trust and India is still learning to do this. The first step has been achieved with international buyers visiting India and recognizing Indian style."
So what are the expectations from the week this year? According to industry estimates, the number of deals to be clinched this year is expected to be around Rs one billion in comparison to last year's Rs 60 crore. Asked on the same, Dhaka said, "It's impossible to quantify at the moment but certainly the buyers response is very positive. There are a lot of international buyers who have shown their deep interest in our designs and that is expected to translate into sales too." The international buyers visiting India include Harrods, Saks and Selfridges.
Local buyers, meanwhile, had a different sentiment to share. They believe that the business will certainly grow but first the fashion industry needs to mature and expand further. They say that this is a good platform for big businesses to happen but there is certainly a need for Indian fashion industry to grow.
Nearly 150 buyers were present at the show. Asked on the expectations from the Fashion week, Anikalenaskarstrom from Paris, said, "We are looking at manufacturing and that is our objective of being here. I am thoroughly impressed with the Indian embroidery and believe that this would be the selling point."