Who would clinch the deal and who wouldn't? At the Lakme India Fashion Week, while designers flooded the ramp with their new 'fusioned designs' and others ogled at the leggies, the buyers too ended up being a satisfied lot. The fashion week saw the front seaters - a mix of Indian and international buyers evaluating each performance. However, amid the Indian celebrity brouhaha, the people who really stood out were the international buyers.
This year interestingly the fashion week has been skewed towards international buyers, which includes SPLL Stores (UK), Harrods, Ananda (Spain), Sanskrit (Hong Kong), Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges, Chokri (Singapore), among others. While last year, according to industry estimates, the fashion week managed to make business deals worth Rs 60 crore, this year it is projected to reach 1 billion. Study indicates that the size of the Prêt is around Rs 163 crore in India, while there are no estimates on the Couture.
Unlike last year, this year there has been a deeper interest, which is why there is more participation from players like Harrods. "This is the first time that Harrods has been to India and it has been a great learning curve for us," said Jason Broderick from Harrods. On their expectations form India, he said, "The elements that have been shown so far is ideal for what we are looking for. Our taste is for luxury products and on a global scale, we found Ashish Soni's collection is very marketable and commercial in a creative sense." However, what Harrods is looking for is embellished products, which India is renowned for, and something that can be offered at the luxury segment. So let us wait and watch what the other designers have to offer, he added.
Interestingly, Maria and Xavier from Ananda are also looking at taking away with them the blend of Indian and Western wear. More than typical Indian wear, what the international buyers is looking for is a slight western influence with embroidery and embellishments. Maria Fruizllorca pointed out, "It's good that Indian fashion designers are going away from the roots and at the same time being experimental with colour, texture etc." He pointed out that Europe does not have a culture to really depict it on the designs, which is where India has an advantage over others. At the same time, Fruizllorca cautioned that the Brazil is also pacing up and eating into the fashion market. So what is the solution, he said, "The government needs to be more pro active and start promoting Indian design so that they are not looked upon as cheap quality wear."
On the issue of price points, the buyers differed. While Broderick said that it is imperative for the price points to be correct so that on a commercial they can get a good value, for Fruizllorca, price points is of least significance. "If we were looking at price points then we would have turned to Africa and China," he said.
Indian designers would also be given their due recognition. Asked whether, on clinching deals, Harrods would sell it under its label, Broderick denied saying, "Fundamentally we don't do that any more. It's all about representing brands within our store. Indian designers have encapsulated the rich cultural lifestyle that the European audience wants and we would be lying to each other if we start putting our own labels to somebody else's collections."
Meanwhile, the Indian buyers are also looking at adding more designers to their stores. However, the common thought between local designers were whether due attention is being paid to the Indian market. Sudha Jalan of Also said, "Before designers really open up to the international market, there is a need to tap the domestic market. Most of the international buyers have already satisfied their customers, which is the reason why they are trying to tap other markets. Here, we haven't satisfied our own customers." Praful Makwana of Shopper's Stop said that it isn't like the international buyers are grabbing the limelight, but just the fact that this is the right platform for the country to encash on the Indian trend getting popular abroad. However, agreeing with Jalan, Makwana said that an equal emphasis should be laid on Indian market too.