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Is the industry ‘growing’?

As we approach the end of this year, Vinod Nair does a year round up of fashion industry.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2008 10:12 IST
Vinod Nair

As we approach the end of this year, I see a rather dishevelled fashion industry before me. The year started off well for the fashion scene in the country with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) holding its Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

Then came the turbulence. War of words started in the FDCI boardroom, allegations started flying around and our fashion designers, who used to speak in one voice, started speaking in different voices. Abuses (choicest ones from Punjab) were hurtled across the table, police cases filed for email hacking and, as a result, our fashion designers group got divided once again (third time) to form Fashion Foundation of India (FFI) and yet another fashion week came into existence.

Neither here nor there
Now, we have three groups — Lakme-IMG, FDCI and FFI — and six fashion weeks in India. If you care to add the India Couture Week and the proposed Men’s Fashion Week by the FDCI, the number of fashion weeks goes to eight. An achievement? I am not sure.

I have always maintained that any thing that can boost the business of fashion designers is good for the industry. Had the increase in number of fashion weeks in India resulted in the increase of business for the designers, we could have assumed that it was, after all, good for the fashion industry. Instead, most of the designers, off the record, told me that when it comes to business now, situation is neither here or there. And as for the media, allocation of column space for a ‘million’ fashion designers showcasing simultaneously at two fashion weeks at the same time became a problem as well. So most of the photos from the shows remained in the folder and only a few managed to be on the pages next morning.

The organisers always claimed that buyers and designers will be benefited from the split and that they can choose the show they want to see from either side. But for buyers (and for journalists) travelling from the North Pole to the South Pole (Pragati Maidan to Vasant Kunj) proved to be futile. Those who attempted missed the shows on both sides and instead of watching a fashion presentation, they ended up sitting in their cars and staring at the next vehicle stuck in traffic. Obviously, no buying happened.

Efforts ridiculed
Does this amount to mockery of fashion? I am afraid it does. There was a time another form of this used to happen on the fashion runway, when designers used to present awful collections reminiscent of circus uniforms. Now, when our designers, at least some of them, have started coming out with creations that are not only wearable, but also international in appeal and quality, the mockery comes back, albeit in a different avtaar.

Great, isn’t it? Why do we fool ourselves by believing that our fashion industry is rapidly growing? I guess it is growing in a way, in terms of groups and fashion weeks! In terms of murmurs and resentments, it’s growing. Bitching is growing and backbiting is even growing faster in the industry. Retards are growing and they are making fashion their business. The business of fashion is mercilessly thrown out of the window. At least in some way things are growing in the fashion industry this year. So what if that doesn’t make you happy? A few are still smiling any way. Will 2009 be any different? We will know soon!