Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Aug 10, 2002
Industry & Economy - Readymade Garments
`Need to make designer wear for masses'
NEW DELHI, Aug. 9
THE Lakme Fashion Show, which concluded on Thursday, has provoked some genuine queries on how to translate designers' choice into mass customisation for retailing.
Amid the hustle and bustle of the fashionshow, where the rich and the famous jostled for space and attention, the architect of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) remained conspicuous by his absence. When Business Line contacted the FDCI founder and the then Director-General of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mr L.V. Saptharishi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, he said this year's show held in the Capital would be "remembered for the number of new designers from different parts of the country who were given an opportunity to present their collections".
He said that the "healthy" trend set by FDCI would go a long way in boosting the élan of young designers emerging from fashion institutes across the country. One of the major objectives behind FDCI's establishment was to provide opportunities for the growing number of designers through such events "instead of the earlier situation when a limited number of designers monopolised such shows to promote themselves". He praised the "new approach and strategy" of FDCI's Executive Director, Mr Vinod Kaul.
To an oft-repeated criticism that fashion shows are restricted to ramp shows instead of generating business, he said "unless such shows are held regularly, there won't be opportunities for designers to display their wares."
He quipped that "the best of designer wares can't be kept in nondescript corners of kirana dukans (grocery shops). The best have to be displayed in the best places to promote the value-additions that went into these products by way of design inputs." Unfortunately, he said, "those who attended the show did not have the capacity or the ability to appreciate the best of design outfits but paid attention to peripheral issues, such as about the models."
In defence of the models, he said design and models should go together; from a business point of view those who have stakes in the industry should come forward to convert the designs into successful business propositions.
The former Director-General of NIFT said in the West, famous designers not only wrought stunning designer items but established firm links with the leading manufacturers. Backed by such arrangements, the best apparel items come for retailing to departmental and other chain stores. The designers in collaboration with the manufacturers were able to segment product ranges for different classes of consumers according to their purchasing power. He cited how some of Calvin Klein or Donna Karen's outfits are available for different categories of consumers at affordable prices.
This, he said, was in stark contrast to "our situation where the best is available only for the most affluent and those who can't afford these at best derive vicarious satisfaction by viewing the ramp models wearing those designers' choice."
Hence, he said, the FDCI should enter into major collaborations with leading manufacturers for mass customisation at rates affordable by different groups of consumers. This could be "a viable proposition in today's context where the garment industry has already been de-reserved, the quota regime for textile exports is going to end and value-addition is being assiduously bolstered by design institutes. A new generation of NIFT designers with the help of FDCI should become entrepreneurs to mass-market these products," he added.
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