Even established designers agree that 15 years on, we’re still a young industry that hasn’t received serious international recognition. “The worst is that there is absolutely no government support,” laments Rodricks. “There’s chaos. Senior designers on fashion week boards squabble over shows. That kind of politics stops younger talent from blooming.”
What stands in the way of success is also the way we look at our bodies. “They are still catering to a size 6. Indian women are not usually size 6,” says Adams. They are usually size 8-12.
Fashion models themselves have some concerns. It may have become easier to get a gig as a runway model with established modelling agencies, but salaries are still low, says model Noyonika Chatterjee, who also owns a grooming school.
“We need to be paid better. Also, there is no one to look after the models. I have been treated badly and not been paid, and there is nobody I can go to,” she says.
The way ahead
Things are looking up, and changing even as some issues continue to plague the industry. “Interestingly, these days many designers request us not to give them the premium slot of 9.30pm as they prefer to be present at their stalls most of the time,” says Sethi. “The volume of business has gone up. Designers these days take up multiple stalls as they want to showcase collections.”
Online sales have started to matter, even for designer wear. It’s made a designer outfit in a faraway big city more accessible, and curated discount sites like Pernia’s Pop-Up have made pricing competitive.
Designer Raghavendra Singh Rathore says that online retailing has changed the production cycles of fashion – no one wants to wait for two collections a year. “Brands churn out smaller but more cycles per year, without context to season. The emphasis on design is now immense because that determines success.”
Rodricks sums it best, “The best part about this industry is that it has the colour, diversity and talent to override the problems that plague us. I am forever the optimist.” We are too.
With inputs from Veenu Singh
Follow @Aastha82 on Twitter
From HT Brunch, March 15
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