Only a home run
As see-now, buy-now model made heads turn at Amazon India Fashion Week, Team Viva figures out how only domestic buyers captured the market
For all talk of revivalism and ethnic confidence at the just-concluded Amazon India Fashion Week, did the optics really translate into business for a Fall-Winter market in real terms? And while ace designers stuck to design disciplines and didn’t run out of loyalties, the overall business aspect seemed largely driven by domestic consumption and a drop in big pickups.
Some Confusion still persists
“Indian designers have to decide the market they are catering to. They seem confused between the Indian and Western market even now. It is a thin line but it is there. One thing is sure, they can’t sell West to the West. They should concentrate only on the Indian elements like embroidery and hand-crafting. Also foreign buyers may clap for Indian silhouettes but they will never buy them,” says Delhi-based Archana, who is a regular representative.
Business is largely zonal now and designers are looking for newer markets within the country first. First time on-ramp designer Karishma Shahani Khan says the home market is fluid. “Delhi-based designers are showing in Mumbai and Mumbai-based ones are queuing up in Delhi. Each is pushing the envelope to look beyond his/her target territory and develop markets among clientele who are yet unfamiliar and have yet to decide their brand loyalties.”
For a newcomer like Jharcraft, which, however is about contemporising and scaling up the tussar silk to global perfection, the curiosity factor has worked. “The four days have seen decent footfalls and we have managed to rope in domestic buyers,” says a representive. Jharcraft’s strategy of targeting the 30s and 40s working woman, who has a better purchasing power, has clearly drawn eyeballs.
“I didn’t get any new buyers but I’m glad the way old clients have come up. For us, AIFW was a success as we were able to sell to a few international buyers as well,” adds designer Anupama Dayal. But then, hers has been more an exception than the rule.
A see-now, buy-now model
In a trading climate rocked by economic swings, the “see now, buy now” model was seen common in various designers’ collections, including Abraham & Thakore. “We have come up with this trend for the accessibility of buyers. Earlier the collection was shown four months before it was available to customers. I think this no longer makes sense,” says Abraham. “A change is beginning to happen internationally based on this model. It is a new marketing trend which wants to capitalise on interest generated in the media immediately. Big designer brands like Tom Ford are following this”, says Rohit, Mumbai-based buyer.Designers like Kavita Bhartia and Pallavi Mohan, who didn’t showcase their collection on ramp, saw major footfalls of domestic buyers.
It is safe to say that season or no season, the ceremonial Indian line that feeds the wedding market is the one that worked yet again. “New buyers did come, enquire and pick up a few pieces but mainly I had domestic buyers,” admits Pallavi Mohan, who showcased her ‘Not So Serious’ collection riding the crest of her ritual lines. “Since Anju Modi is more into ethnics and a known name, every season we look for her collection for our website. Familiar labels sell more in comparison to the new ones,” says Meghna, a Mumbai-based buyer.
Where’s the menswear?
Archana feels that the limited menswear range and the lack of seriousness regarding the pitch affected numbers. “This season, the menswear is missing badly. And only few designers looked serious about putting together a fall collection that at least would have helped in making advance bookings.”
Shares Nysa, who runs a boutique in Jaipur, “Designers seem to give little to menswear, considering it gets picked up the most world over though there is a lot of visual and grab value for women’s wear. The overall quality of design has been going down I am afraid. Some appear to be coming straight out of fashion school. This season Samant Chauhan and Pero’s collections are what have appealed to me as a buyer the most.” But designer Madhu Jain counters this argument saying women’s wear is a safe option and guarantees returns. “Buyers look more for womenswear and this is the reason why few designers focus entirely on menswear. Also for a debutante, it is always easier to start out with women’s wear, gain enough experience in the field and extend his/her label into menswear,” says the designer, who has an experience of 30 years in this industry and still chooses to cast a safety net. So did the fashion week just end up as a trendspotting hunt? Says Prachi, a regular visitor, “It helps me plan out a range for my website as well as my store in the city. In between shows and appointments, we try and work out which ones we feel strongly about and which our customers will love. Fashion week is a great opportunity to catch up with everyone — designers, editors and even customers— to get a sense of things.” Clearly, generating sensible business is the need of the hour for a week meant to drive pret lines.
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