Marie Claire India on September 5 organised a seminar in Delhi on ‘The Future of Fashion’ that brought together thoughts and views of the fashion fraternity and some media honchos to become a prelude to the ‘Made in India 2008 Fashion Awards’, to be held on October 10 in Delhi.
The seminar covered subjects that had local and international dimensions. The first session on ‘Fashion and Media’ saw speakers like image consultant Dilip Cherian; ad guru Prahlad Kakkar; Chandralekha Roy, former Editor, Sunday Economic Times and now an entrepreneur; Anurag Batra, MD and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media; fashion consultant Prasad Bidapa; and Meher Castellino, former Miss India and fashion journalist. The session discussed whether fashion could become a serious media beat for senior editors to give space to or would it remain in the realm of just glamour and relegated to the party pages? ‘Can fashion find a place in the real reporting?’
Cherian, moderator of the session, kicked off the session with the question, “How has fashion evolved over the years? What is the amount of media participation in it and how much do people learn through the media?”
Castellino said, “When I started out in this field of fashion, there were only a few magazines that carried fashion. But from 2000 onwards, after the Fashion Week came into being, there has been a surge of magazines in the market dedicated to fashion. Even in mainstream media, it has become mandatory to dedicate a few pages to fashion alone. What we need are reporters who have in-depth knowledge in this field and who can write about it.”
Bidapa said, “I have been working in the industry for 30 years and have seen every designer grow. India wasn’t ready for this change 30 years ago. But now, we produce some of the best creative works in the industry. When Carol’s top-slip happened, media celebrated it. They saw it as a piece of meat. Nobody questioned the designers or discussed why it happened. Journalists need to be taught how to criticise work and not sensationalise it.”
According to Kakkar, “The fashion industry in India is amusing. The reportage is worse than the lack of creativity. Many ask me what filmmaking is all about. It is a language and unless you know the language well, you can’t do a good job about it. Same is the case with fashion reporting as well. Media, especially electronic media, look only at sensationalising things.”
Batra felt that fashion journalism in India was in its nascent stage. H said, “We need domain experts. Very few people in the industry understand fashion. Most of the fashion reporters write for the advertisers. What works here is bias and that’s not a cut of the skirt.”
Roy pointed out, “It was in the early 90s when a few designers decided to become brands that we started to report on it. Rohit Khosla’s column got great response from the readers. But no matter how well we wrote, other stories got prominence and the fashion story was pushed to the side. Once we were successful in breaking a story and that went as an anchor on the front page. Then other dailies followed suit.”
“To do good reporting on fashion, we need designers to give us information. We can’t do a serious job unless we have the numbers,” Roy added.