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Fashion: industry overview

The Indian fashion design industry is likely to touch Rs 750 crore by 2012 from the current level of Rs 270 crore...Challenges faced | Quirky facts

fashion and trends Updated: Mar 25, 2008 21:57 IST
Tasneem Nashrulla

When stylist to the stars, Shabina Khan first stepped into the Indian film industry in 1989 at the tender age of 19, she recalls exactly 6 costume designers (now known as stylists) working for the whole of Bollywood. Today, she estimates, there are at least 25 and growing. And film styling is a mere atom in the ever-evolving body of the Indian fashion industry.

The Indian fashion design industry is likely to touch Rs 750 crore by 2012 from the current level of Rs 270 crore owing to Indian companies heavily investing big sums in the industry, consumers increasingly shifting focus towards designer wear, exposure to western media and the ready availability of designer wear in the shopping malls, according to a paper by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry. (ASSOCHAM).

Rathi Vinay Jha, director general of the Fashion Design Council of India which focuses on consolidating the vast industry says, “The Indian economy is upbeat with sectors like retail and textile booming which are driving growth across related sectors.” Which is precisely why India Fashion Week in 2007 boasted of over 80 international buyers from 19 countries, 100 domestic buyers and participation of 71 designers.

Although the Indian fashion industry accounts for barely 0.2 per cent of the international industry’s net worth, the market is getting more dynamic with the influx of the big daddies of international fashion like Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Escada, Jimmy Choo, Loius Vuitton etc making headway to India in recent times. Says the first lady of Indian fashion, designer Ritu Kumar, “We are going to see a phenomenal rise in international brands coming here since markets abroad are seeing a saturation of retail and India, perceived to be second largest growing consumer country in the world, is an attractive avenue for global brands to explore.”

Mumbai is especially viewed as a hotbed for various fashion-related professions. Kumar believes that the advent of retail space available today and the mall culture has made fashion visibility very high in the city. Corroborating this, the ASSOCHAM reports states that about 60 per cent of male shoppers and 72 per cent of female shoppers prefer shopping for designer wear in departmental stores. “Mumbai has the added advantage of easy connectivity to the rest of the world, booming business opportunities and increasing disposable income”, says Jha. “This makes it one of the biggest fashion markets in India.”

Anahitta Shroff Adajania, the “it girl” of styling, fashion director of Vogue India and the genius behind Hrithik Roshan’s uber slick look in Dhoom 2 says: “Earlier, costume ‘dadas’ used to make do with whatever they could source from limited indigenous shops. Today, I can get a Gucci dress for my actress on demand.” Shroff, whose company Style Cell offers styling services for magazine shoots, movies, celebrities and ‘regular people’ adds, “Apart from the traditional fashion designers, a person interested in fashion can choose to become a fashion merchandiser, fashion journalist, fashion PR executive and of course a stylist”.

Kumar believes it is the visibility, the glamour, the image of fun and the perception of a career which ensures instant fame and success that attracts youngsters to this industry. Adds Jha, “Exposure to mass media has made fashion an important form of personal expression.” Take for instance 25-year-old Ashmi Bhansali who started her own fashion label Pink Papaya in college with zero investment. She now supplies her own bags, shoes, accessories and clothes to 10 stores across the country earning at least a lakh a month. Proof enough of why fashion is so ‘haute’ in Mumbai.