'This is no way to do business', say unhappy buyers
At the Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW), the big news is the presence of buyers from three prestigious department stores ? Saks Fifth Avenue, Browns of London and Hong Kong's Joyce ? but they had bad news for our fashion community.
At the Lakmé India Fashion Week (LIFW), the big news is the presence of buyers from three prestigious department stores — Saks Fifth Avenue, Browns of London and Hong Kong's Joyce — but they had bad news for our fashion community.
Albert Morris of Browns, the store credited with discovering John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, was upset that though each day's business is slated to start at 9 a.m., the designers don't show up before 12 noon. That's when the shows start, leaving the buyers with just half-an-hour between one show and the next to have a word with the designers they'd like to promote.
This communication gap can lead to hilarious situations. Morris found a parcel packed with shirts waiting for him when he went back to his room a couple of nights back. "I couldn't tell whether it was a present, or misdirected laundry," said the man who has recently launched the Australian designer of Japanese origin, Akira Isogawa.
"That's not how you should be doing business," commented Michael Fink of Saks Fifth Avenue, who spends 13 weeks in a year attending fashion weeks. "In Paris, the stalls open at 7.30 a.m. and the shows start at 9, and if the designers can't be present, their teams are around to answer questions the buyers may have."
Serious buyers at the LIFW, though, appear to be clueless. Fumed Morris: "I haven't got a look book, I haven't got a colour chart, I haven't got a DVD, I haven't got a name card. If you want to be like designers around the world, you've got to work harder." Added Fink: "We have to be clear about what we're buying, the price points we're looking at and the delivery schedules."The designers agree their look books aren't ready. It's because they've been focusing on their shows. "I set up my stall only after my show yesterday. There's someone there from 10.30 onwards, or maybe 11," Manish Arora admitted. "My pictures came only yesterday after my show. And I haven't done a look book," added Ranna Gill.
The point most designers appear to miss is that international buyers are hard-pressed for time, and they don't scale down their expectations just because they're in India. And, as Morris pointed out, "We don't always buy a collection as it's presented on the ramp."
New York-based designer Namrata Joshipura said she does most of her business with domestic buyers, who don't ask for look books. But she said designers must get more professional with foreign buyers.
At the moment, though, the foreign buyers don't appear to be too excited. "Have I found anything I'm passionate about? Not yet," Morris declared. "Have I found anything I want to buy? Question mark."
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