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TV is in fashion

Lending clothes to reality shows and ads has become a marketing tool for designers, writes Kabeer Sharma.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 14:57 IST

The next time you skip a TV commercial to visit the loo, keep in mind that you are missing the style statement of the season.

When Rakshanda Khan started off with Jodee Kamaal Kii, the show became much more than a compatibility test for couples -— it became a showcase for Tarun Tahiliani's outfits, worn by the host.

Meanwhile, Mandira Bedi, who has succeeded Madhavan on Deal Ya No Deal, is draping Satya Paul saris with her blouseless sleeves. KBC's designers on board were at first Raghavendra Rathore and then Shantanu-Nikhil.

High brand recall

Even as the debate over 'mass' and 'niche' markets continues in fashion, designers indicate which way they are headed, as TV shows find couturiers vying for brand placement.

Realising the high brand recall that TV offers through reality shows or even advertisements, designers are lobbying to get their clothes endorsed. Take the new Pepsi Cafechino ad, starring Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

When it came out, the talking point was not only the new flavour but also the ladies' costumes. Priyanka was in a Rocky S outfit; Kareena sported a Manish Malhotra.

According to Malhotra, the perception of television has undergone a change:

"There was a time when designers were running away from television; today they are running after it."

The situation, he adds, is similar to what happened with Bollywood — once considered lowly; now everyone from socialites to designers has accepted it as a trendsetter.

Sleek designs

It helps that TV shows have become sleek. A show like Koffee With Karan had audiences as eager to see what the guests wore as much as what they said.

Says Mandira Bedi: "An increasing number of designers are now looking at high-profile shows as a form of advertising. They provide their clothes free because they look at dressing anchors as a form of marketing."

While characters in saas-bahu serials still wear their Maharashtri an saris with aplomb, vamps and other 'sexy' characters in such shows have gone designer.

While much was made of Jassi wearing Satya Paul, Shaan's classy wardrobe in the just-concluded Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005 was designed by Raghavendra Rathore.

There is also Yeh Meri Life Hai, which sees clothes by Ritu Kumar.

The ad roster

The new Bombay Dyeing ad with John Abraham has designs by Narendra Kumar.

"It's a complementary relationship," says Kumar. "Fashion designers get more visibility and it is also good for the star's image."

The number of advertisements in Manish Malhotra's kitty has more than doubled over the past six months. The designer already has two TV endorsers — Kajol in the red trench coat and black catsuit for the Marie advertisement, and Kareena in the Cafechino ad.

If the pie has got bigger, the number of designers vying for a slice of it has increased as well.

Larger advertising budgets and pressure from client firms to make stylised ads also have a lot to do with it, say ad gurus.