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Hit the Indian diaspora: Leena Singh

Costume designer Leena Singh of the Ashima-Leena duo says that there is a huge international market for Indian designs.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2006 16:46 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Indian fashion designers should target the huge diaspora worldwide instead of just focusing on the West, feels Leena Singh of the Ashima-Leena duo.

"The diaspora is a huge captive market that has not been tapped. The real money is with the Indians settled abroad who love to wear Indian clothes," said Singh, who has developed a huge market for her label in the US over the last 10 years.

"I travel every summer for a month-and-a-half to reach out to the Indian American community. They don't have the zeal to come back but they still love their culture very much," she said on the sidelines of the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

"Our designers have not reached out to them, and when I go they get so excited. They think it is not possible to talk to an Indian designer and for them it is a dream to see an Indian designer," Singh said.

Pointing to the "feel good" factor this created, she said "we do video-conferencing with them all through the year. They trust us to such a point that they base their orders on pictures we send to them. They will have seen my show (at the fashion week) and will now start sending orders."

"That is the kind of huge business I have developed over a period of time on a very personal level," Singh maintained, implying that if she could do it, so could the others.

"Even Americans are wearing saris. I've dressed them to give them a taste of what it means to wear Indian attire," Singh proudly said.

Given this, Singh quite naturally disagreed with suggestions made during the fashion week by French and other experts that Indian designers would have to adopt the international idiom if they were to make a mark in the west.

"Our craft and heritage is so rich that we must take this abroad in the form of international or Indian garments," she asserted.

"For me, the stamp of India is very important. I'm truly Indian and I like to project my country in international markets," Singh declared.

As for the India Fashion Week, now in its seventh year, she described it as a "seed that has not only become a tree but we now see the tree giving a lot of fruit".

"There's been an exponential rise in business. If we were only hanging around in the first year, today our stall is full of buyers - buyers from not only the Middle East, but buyers from all over the world, as also have domestic buyers.

"From the first week, from the first day of the current week, figures have been going up everyday. Buyers were ready from day one, and this shows how serious they were about the event," Singh maintained.

Singh said that with the India Fashion Week concept having established itself, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) that organises the event should now shift its focus to developing fashion parks across the country to provide designers a complete range of facilities under one roof.

The parks should be integrated complex with show areas, work areas and ancillary services available under one roof, Singh pointed out.

"We need lots of support from the government. We have given them creativity and talent. We need to nurture that creativity and make sure they become stars. That will be possible only when we have huge support from the government."

First Published: Apr 10, 2006 15:11 IST