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LFW: High on style, but less orders

The recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week earned appreciation for creative designs but ended up with little business.
IANS | By Shweta Thakur, Mumbai/new Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 08, 2008 06:14 PM IST

Three years ago, leading cosmetic brand Lakme severed its relationship with India's apex fashion body, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), and started its own fashion week in Mumbai.

Today LFW is still struggling to free itself from the clutches of Bollywood while FDCI's endeavour, Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) in Delhi, has evolved as the real platform for the fashion business.

"LFW is not viable for business and there is lack of choice," Erika Harm, a buyer from the Netherlands who attended both the fashion fetes, told IANS in Mumbai.

"The atmosphere for business is not very friendly; though the work of designers at LFW is high on creativity, it cannot cover the cost," said Harm about the event that ended this month and saw 57 designers participating.

The last edition of WIFW was held in early March, with 84 designers displaying their work at 40 shows.

Of the 30 shows at LFW, three were dedicated to collections by brands Allen Solly, Park Avenue and Portico, so only 27 shows were meant for designers.

During the five-day fashion fair in Mumbai, nearly three dozen stars came visiting, including Sridevi, Neetu Singh, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan as well as Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

"The seriousness is missing here!" said the owner of a leading retail chain store on condition of anonymity:

Incidentally, only a handful of designers like JJ Valaya and Kiran Uttam Ghosh display at both the events and most choose one over the other.

At WIFW, over six designers - including Valaya, Rina Dhaka, Ritu Kumar and Manish Arora - were confident of crossing the 1,000 outfits sale mark. But at LFW, only two designers expected the same though it too had big names like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Narendra Kumar, Manish Malhotra and Narendra Kumar.

Spring-summer lines showcased at the autumn-winter editions of both the events added to the discontent of buyers. At WIFW, around half a dozen designers displayed summer lines while at LFW, scores of participants' showcased summer collections.

A dissatisfied Alex Eisenberg of US fashion store Frances Heffernan said: "The collections showcased are not at all suitable for the cold weather of the US. I was looking for cashmere sweaters that I haven't seen much."

Buyer Tasneem of Al-Hai Trading Company complained that some of the big designers did not display their collections in the exhibition area.

"Compared to WIFW it seems designers at LFW are satisfied doing business with indigenous buyers only. Some of them didn't display their collections in the exhibition area before the show and some didn't do it at any point during the fashion week."

Elyse Kroll, the creator of leading trade show Coterie, agreed. "A booth (at the exhibition area) is the reflection of a designer's collection and must convey the message. Barring a few, none of the designers decorated the stalls."

On the contrary, the last edition of WIFW saw most of the designers splurging up to Rs.50,000 and getting their stalls decorated by professionals.

With only one ramp for all the shows, LFW is a much smaller event compared to WIFW. Also, there were complaints of the auditorium being short on seating capacity for the media and loopholes in security.

Of course, in the WIFW too people grumbled about lack of water and few washrooms.

However, international buyers lauded the arrangements at both the events.

"Both the events had delays in shows and the absence of look books but both were very well organised. Unlike other international fashion fairs, where one has to rush here and there, everything was at the same place. That made things easier for us," said Harm.

LFW also earned much appreciation for its unique initiative of holding two business-building seminars.

"Both the seminars were extraordinary and a great learning experience for all the participants - retailers, designers, buyers, organisers and mediapersons," said Caroline Young, a fashion consultant and CEO of Creative Link India.

"The tapes of both the seminars must be screened in all fashion institutes, as they are a treasure of incredible information about market needs and augmenting one's business."

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