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Delhi designers welcome plan to create fashion hub

The move would signal the city's arrival as the country's premier style destination, they feel.

fashion and trends Updated: Mar 10, 2008 09:36 IST

The designer fraternity here has cheered a government proposal to create a fashion hub in a fast-developing suburb of the national capital, saying it would signal Delhi's arrival as the country's premier style destination.

"It's a most welcome development," said Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) director general Rathi Vinay Jha of the announcement by Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken at the ongoing Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW). "It's definitely a step forward. Finally, we are beginning to see some hope," said designer Payal Jain.

"It's a wonderful idea. All of us will be under one roof and this will create enormous synergy between the various components of the fashion industry," beamed Leena Singh of the Ashima-Leena design duo.

The idea of a fashion hub at Dwarka in west Delhi has been in the pipeline for a while and received an impetus after the Supreme Court ordered demolitions last year of commercial establishments running illegally from residential neighbourhoods.

The demolitions had seen large numbers of designers, many of them the crème de la crème of the fashion fraternity, thrown out of fashionable addresses like 1 and 2 MG Road they had occupied for years.

At the bottom line, the designers weren't really complaining since they were level headed enough to realise that they couldn't forever break the law. What they would, however, have preferred was alternative accommodation before being evicted.

That solution now seems in sight though it may take upwards of a year to fructify, after crucial issues like land prices and the various components of the fashion hub are resolved.

On his part, Maken has promised to strike a balance on the price issue between commercial and subsidised rates and said he would attempt to adopt the middle path.

But then, given the dynamics of Delhi's fashion fraternity and their by-and-large cohesiveness, they will definitely find a way out even if commercial rates are charged.

This apart, one other crucial issue needs to be resolved and that is accommodation.

A five-star hotel would have to be constructed as an integral component of the fashion hub to accommodate the increasing numbers of foreign buyers, fashionistas and journalists that are attending the WIFW. Though this hotel would be assured of fairly decent occupancy rates for about 20 days a year - the five days of the fashion week plus a few days preceding and following the event - the question is: how would it stay out of the red for the rest of the year.

Dwarka is essentially a sprawling area of gated high-rise residential complexes and attendant market complexes and related facilities. Thus, while it is fairly close to the international airport, it is not home to businesses or industries of the type that would attract visitors requiring hotel accommodation.

It is because of this that Delhi sorely misses a facility like the Hyderabad International Convention Complex (HICC) that has been developed in collaboration with a Dubai-based realty firm. It has a convention centre with flexi-space, a five-star hotel and all the rest of the paraphernalia required.

But then, as Maken put it: "There will be a number of issues to be resolved but I hope that next year's fashion week (autumn/winter edition in March-April) will be conducted in the new complex."

If that happens, or even a beginning is made, Delhi will truly be on the way to becoming India's fashion capital.

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