Indian fashion goes global
Designers being invited to showcase abroad makes one think that the Indian fashion story is going global, but experts say that India is yet to influence global fashion trends in a major way.
"After the Gandhi cap and the Nehru jacket Indian fashion has not influenced the world in a big way," says Rathi Vinay Jha of Fashion Design Council Of India (FDCI).
From Paris to Singapore, Europe to Middle East, Indian designers are making a presence on the global ramp, but it is not their creations which are creating waves, but 'brand India' which is an all time favourite, says Sunil Sethi who heads Alliance, a buying house.
"The Indian wave in global fashion is not the creation of any Indian designers. Foreign designers have an India look to their collection and that's been responsible for the buzz," he says.
Both Rathi and Sethi feel that putting a show abroad "is aspirational" and "lends certain credibility to the designer."
Rathi says that her "guessestimate is that 80 per cent of sales for all Indian designers come from the domestic market."
However Sethi says that it is important that Indian designers make their presence in fashion abroad. "One designer's show may expand the pie for all Indian designers. Should a designer put up an impressive show, it creates an interest for works of the entire industry."
Also only once the buyers abroad decide to do business with you do they give you exact sizes, Sethi explains.
"Shows abroad help create brand awareness and generate buzz. The consumers know who you are and where you are available," says Deepika Gehani who was at the Los Angles Fashion Week recently.
"It's a great way to identify, understand and interact with potential consumers and buyers and get enquiries from them," she adds.
Gehani says though that she's had to reconcile to the fact that even haute couture from India is "expected to be cheap."
She confesses that buyers abroad are wary of working with Indian designers, as they are unsure of "quality standards and ability to meet delivery targets."
She says that for her the most important learning has been that NRI in the US are caught up in a time warp in terms of fashion. "They still want loud colours and heavy work. On the other hand the middle East is probably the most fashion forward."
Speaking about her experience, Kiran Uttam Ghosh who was in Italy on an invitation by Alta Roma (The Indian FDCI Of sorts), says that India is miles ahead in terms of embroidery and surface texturing but needs to put in work in terms of "pattern, cuts and garment construction. I haven't heard of one buyer not complaining about the arm hole," she says.
Sethi says that shows abroad may even lead to the realisation that a designer is best suited to the local market.
Sethi says that the exposure has brought a sense of professionalism among designers. "They have factory managers and CEOs to look into their business."
Jha says that finances are the main constraints for designers. "It is expensive to travel abroad. Hence most designers prefer to sell from stores abroad than set up their own retail units."