There is a ray of hope for all those who find themselves sandwiched between two parallel fashion weeks, with newly formed Fashion and Design Promotion Council (FDPC) - the third such in the field - aiming to function as an umbrella body and hoping to bring the two events together.
"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 Shankersinh Vaghela said at the inauguration of FDPC here Tuesday.
Hitherto, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) has been organising two editions of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), with the 13th season scheduled for March 20-24. From last year, the Fashion Foundation of India comprising a group of designers who broke away from the FDCI, began organising the Delhi Fashion Week. The second edition of this is scheduled March 19-24.
“Our aim is to bring the Indian fashion industry on par with the international fashion scenario and we wish to utilize this opportunity (of the new body's formation) to the maximum,” Vaghela added.
Sponsored by the textiles ministry, the new body will be headed by retail giant Pantaloon's managing director Kishore Biyani, with classy designer Raghavendra Rathore as its vice president. Vijay Singh is the secretary and chief executive officer, while Varsha Parekh will be the advisor.
The Governing Body includes heavyweights like National Institute of Fashion Technology director general Rajiv Takru, Development Commissioner (Handloom) B.K. Sinha, Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) Sanjay Agarwal and Joint Secretary (Exports) in the textile ministry J.N. Singh.
"The body aims to provide a better platform and opportunities to young and established designers and aims at reaching to young designers of small states and set up world class retailing, warehousing and training infrastructure in India and abroad," a statement issued on the occasion said.
Apprehensions had been expressed in the run-up to FDPC's formation that it might only serve to muddy the waters further but Vijay Singh hastened to say this would not be the case.
“Our purpose is not to confuse the designers, buyers or anyone else. Our aim is to promote the business of fashion and the export industry,” Singh explained, adding the body also planned regional fashion shows to promote the young talent of India.
“Apart from these regional talent shows, we are also planning to introduce training programmes in designing, brand building, marketing, product development, packaging, sourcing and inventory management,” Singh said.
In the case of the FDCI and the FFI, membership is by application but there is no guarantee of this being accepted. In the case of the new body, there will be no screening and just about anyone can join.
There are, however, two categories of membership for designers: those with more than 10 years of experience pay Rs.50,000 for three years and those with less than 10 years pay 15,000 for three years.
For the textile industry at large, there is corporate membership of Rs.250,000 for three years.
Top-notch designers like Anamika Khanna, Ashish Soni, Gaurav Gupta, J.J. Valaya, Leena Singh, Payal Jain, Manish Arora, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rocky S, Rohit Bal, Ritu Beri, Ranna Gill, Reena Dhaka, Ritu Beri, Varun Sardana have already become the members of the new council.
India's fashion industry, according to figures released by FDPC, was estimated at Rs.2.5-3 billion in 2007 and could rise to Rs.25 billion by 2017. And, thanks to the boom in organised retail, the pret - or ready-to-wear - segment has the potential to reach Rs.4-5 billion by 2017.