Wish you a fashionable new year

Wish you a fashionable new year
MIX AND MATCH: Masaba’s Autumn Winter collection
I feel fortunate to write this article on the very last day of this year as I can essay my complete view of the fashion scenario in India in 2013. Being an optimistic person, I would talk more on the positive side. The biggest positive change that I foresee in the industry is the shift towards handloom and the focus towards reviving it. As one sees more and more designers working on different weaves across the country today, the years to come are sure to see an array of re-invented textiles.

Another change that I see is the pool of new talent on and off the runway that is emerging in our country and making a niche for themselves. I would like to praise our apex fashion body — Fashion Design Council of India — that has organised contests such as Let’s Design (with Cotton Council of India), Vogue fashion fund (with Vogue and Westside) and International Woolmark Prize (with The Woolmark Company), among others to highlight and discover new faces of fashion.

Thirdly, innovation in terms of textures, prints, chemical washes and laser cutting techniques, among others are making our collections noticeable on the global fashion platform. I have read a lot of international publications appreciating the designs and collections of some Indian designers, which is a very encouraging sign.

Fourth, the emergence of e-commerce for sale of designerwear globally has become the next big thing, which personally, has surprised me too. I always thought that it would be very hard to sell couture labels on an online portal as the detailing is very difficult to understand. Also, since the prices of such high-end designs are high, one expects that people would want to have a touch and feel of the actual product before buying it, but that has been proved wrong. This is also a very heartening sign as a lot of fresh creative minds are now ready to take up entrepreneurship and sell their designs.

The rise of social media has truly bridged the gap between the designer and his prospective client. I have experience this personally and I am sure others have too. The feedback in the form of likes, comments, appreciations and criticism is priceless. Also, the flow of unedited communication, which goes to and fro directly from the masses, changes one’s perception about a lot of myths.

Yes, there were a few negative influences on fashion this year as well. One of the biggest among them has been the tremendous increase in the plagiarism of designerwear, which has hurt the livelihood of a lot of craftsmen and small designers.

Another major issue this year has been the slow growth of the economy, which made domestic demand very blurred. In fact, I can say it has been the worst in the past five years. The escalating rate of rents due to FDI in retail and corruption has made it hard for small designers to step into entrepreneurship. Lack of investment in the fashion industry is making it tough for designer or multi-designer store to expand and sustain the very existence model of having retail store chains.

The imposition of value added tax is another evil, which hurts all of us very badly, and even after a lot of persuasion by the design body to the government, this clause still exists. It is often said that, in life, everything comes in a package; so is the case in the fashion industry. Wishing all of you a fashionable new year.

(The writer is a Delhi-based fashion designer)

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