United we stand, divided we fall - that seems to have been the motto of the Indian fashion fraternity in 2009 as they put aside their differences and opted for a single major fashion event in the capital.
Last year there had been chaos in the fashion world after another fashion week had started parallel to the Fashion Design Council of India's (FDCI) Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW).
Designers were losing business not only because of recession but also because international buyers were avoiding shuttling between two different venues. This in turn led to bad business.
"Business was very bad for a year. It was as if recession and ego clashes had engulfed the fashion industry at the same time. Having two parallel fashion weeks was a crazy experience. It was not at all good for the fashion industry," recollects Leena Singh of designer duo Ashima-Leena.
"To make a mark internationally, it was very important for all of us to come together and I am glad that happened. Look at the business we all have made this time. It's excellent," she says.
Efforts to re-unite the fashion industry had started from the beginning of the year with the formation of a new fashion body sponsored by the textile ministry - Fashion and Design Promotion Council (FDPC) - promising to promote young designers and bridge the gap between the fashion fraternity.
"We are not in competition with anyone. We just want to be an umbrella body to carry along the other fashion bodies with us. We want to think about the possibilities where the two events can be held together, making it easy for designers and buyers to focus on their work," Textiles Minister Shankar Singh Vaghela had said at the inauguration of FDPC.
The fashion industry was optimistic with this move and was hoping for things to get better until FDPC declared its independent fashion week - India Fashion and Design Week (IFDW) - that clashed with the dates of the WIFW.
The industry was again divided and there were chances of another clash till FDPC's secretary general and CEO Vijay Singh was arrested in a cheating case. IFDW was then dissolved and the fashion fraternity came together and opted for a single fashion week in the capital. Things got better when the designers managed to get good business in the spring/summer edition of WIFW.
"The high point of this year was that finally after a year of struggle and confusion, the fashion fraternity came together. The icing on the cake was that designers managed to get good business as markets too have started improving," FDCI president Sunil Sethi told IANS. "At the end of the year what matters is how much you have earned. The good sign is that recession is over and the creativity of the designers is being appreciated and recognised as well. It's like differences and recession have ended at the same time," he added.
Apart from this, the year also witnessed the debut of the Van Heusen Men's Fashion Week in the capital and the second edition of the HDIL-India Couture Week in Mumbai. There was also a staple dose of the two editions of Lakme Fashion Week and Kolkata Fashion Week as well.
Now Sethi is looking forward to next year's calender and is aiming to set dates for all FDCI's fashion weeks in sync with the international fashion calender."Now our aim is to have all our events like WIFW, India Couture Week and Men's Fashion Week in sync with international dates. This will help designers to grow and make profits," explained Sethi.
Given this, the coming year seems to hold lots of promise for Indian designers.