Noted fashion designers are missing from showing on the runway this Fashion Week. Designers like Amit Aggarwal (Morphe), Prashant Verma, Varun Sardana, Sanchita Ajjampur, Samant Chauhan, 11.11, and Nandita Basu are choosing not to have a show this season due to compelling or consciously planned reasons. Is having a show consistently every 6 months the wise way to go, or could taking a break from a season or two prove to be equally necessary for the growth of the company.
It costs an approximate of Rs. 10-15 lakh to do a solo show at WLIFW. 40% of this cost goes into acquiring the prime time slot – in the evening and on a weekend when most attendance is expected. An additional cost of around Rs. 1.35 lakh is required for a stall where the designer stocks their collection for all five days of the event to be reviewed by critics, buyers, investors etc. 124 designers have a stall area at the ongoing WLIFW and only 77 designers out of these are doing a show in the stage area at the same venue.
Designer Smita Rathore from 11.11 label is one of such designers who is opting for only a stall during this WLIFW. “We feel doing a show is great to generate awareness but it does not impact the sales. The sales are same if we take up a stall or if we do a solo show as we did last season. This time around our collection is more of a retrospective of the brand. It was a conscious step to not do a show and focus our energy to establish the brand.”
Nonita Kalra, editor of Elle India magazine weighs in this decision by supporting designers’ decision to take a break from a season or two. “Designers should do a show only if they have something to say. I don’t think it affects sales for the designers. It doesn’t affect our decision to feature the collection in our magazine. In fact taking a break from doing a runway show reflects maturity on the designer’s part as they are taking their time to present the audience with something memorable.” says Kalra.
On the flip side, there are designers who would not even dream about skipping a season.
“I personally feel doing a show is very important for the collection. It was drilled in college to us that as business owners we do not have the luxury to skip a season. Even if the collection is good, bad or ugly, a show is necessary for a designer to deliver. Especially in my case the collection must be showcased on a human body form as it takes a life of its own when worn by a woman.” Taking a buyer’s perspective on missing out on seeing the collection on runway, Jeaniine Barria, senior buyer for Ensemble boutiques says “To determine our purchases we need to see certain designer’s collections on the runway. The edgy labels like Morphe by Amit Aggarwal need to be seen on the human body to understand the structure of the garment. Those designers should not do away with runway shows.”
Designers who can not show on the runway automatically loose out on the publicity that is generated by the media covering fashion shows. “I feel the shows are pivotal for the collection. The images from the runway are used in the following months in numerous publications. Not only local, the international websites are featuring images of the WLIFW shows and that will help me connect with a global audience.” says designer Gaurav Gupta who skipped on a fashion show for his Spring Summer 2008 and 2011 collections but is having a solo show at the current WLIFW.
But for some designers the publicity generated does not compensate the cost involved in having a show. For fashion label Varun Sardana, 90% of the sales are made from outside India. The rest 10% are dedicated Indian buyers who do not wait for the shows to happen. “We feel the Delhi fashion week occurs much later than the global fashion weeks. It happens a month after the Paris Fashion Week. Most international buyers have already placed their orders much in advance and doing a show now does not aid in getting sales orders.” says Varun’s business manager Amrit Sharma. “We chose not to do a show this time as we have built the brand strong enough in the past 3.5 years after investing a lot of money in it. This is a pragmatic decision and instead of focusing our time and energy into a show, we are focusing on the business.”
Common ground is found in the form of a ‘sponsored show’ where a corporate sponsor is willing to take care of the designer’s show costs in return for publicity generated for the show vis a vis the sponsoring brand. With sponsored shows, the designer benefits in creating the buzz along with the business. But sponsored shows are few and hard to get.
Having a runway show is a fair platform to create news which is essential for the marketing of the brand. Without a fashion show the communication will remain restricted and limited. “In the current scenario the runway shows are important to have. The show expresses the mood and communicates my point of view of the collection clearly.” adds designer Kallol Datta.