This season, Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week will be missing some of its own protégés. The platform has been instrumental in creating brand names out of designers like Rahul Mishra, Nikasha Tawadey, Asmita Marwah, Anand Bhushan and Nachiket Barve to name a few. Now, most have chosen to join hands with the FDCI run Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi instead.
The oft-quoted reason for this mass migration is that unlike most Fashion Weeks, which show collections for the season six months in advance, Lakme shifted to a current season format. But the real story is more complicated. Complaints range from lack of professionalism to ego battles with younger designers feeling let down by the very organisation that first gave them a chance.
“I am where I am today because Lakme gave me a platform,” says Mishra, a product of the first Lakme Gen Next show. He adds, “But now they have become too obsessed with media hype as opposed to generating business for designers. It’s an event for sponsors.”
Many designers seem to use Lakme as a launch pad to first gain recognition, but are forced to move to Delhi when their business doesn’t grow. “In Delhi, the stalls are always full and you’ll see designers, whether established or new, busy at work. This helps draw in the buyers,” he says.
Hyderabad-based designer Marwah sounds equally disillusioned: “As an outside designer, I spend over Rs 5 lakh to participate, but don’t recover that amount. In fact, all my designer friends who have moved to Delhi say that business is fantastic there.”
Designer Tawadey, who has also moved to Delhi, says, “Despite us having been with Lakme for so long, we still have to fight for good time slots We suggested instead of giving the grand finale show to a Delhi designer, they should promote five of their own finds. But that didn’t happen.”