For all those who dig style and fashion, Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) is an important source of what will be in vogue season after season because it throws open collections by diverse, established and emerging designers, under the same roof. This season, categorised as Summer/Resort, saw 88 designers showcase from 15 cities. While the event was high on fashion, drama and Bollywood, the business aspect witnessed an alleviation too.
“This season, the feedback from our buyers and designers on business was very encouraging. While we had a few first-time buyers including Knots Boutique (Kenya), Bibi London (UK), The Secret Space (Kerala), Maalgaadi (Cochin) and Beblaa (UK), we also had several names who have been buying at LFW since its inception.
Some buyers placed orders for as many as 400 pieces,” reveals Saket Dhankar, Head-Fashion, IMGReliance. Echoing a similar stance, designer Krishna Mehta, a regular participant at LFW for several years now, reveals that this has been the best year for her in terms of bookings. “Business is of prime importance to me if you are showcasing a collection, otherwise what’s the point?
In fact, I was a bit worried this time because LFW happened late, and most stores close their booking by now for summer collections,” she says, adding that LFW takes place before Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (Delhi), but this time, it was the other way round, and she couldn't take part in Wills because she was abroad. “I didn’t know if I would make enough business at LFW. But this year has been the best (for me) in years. I’m glad that apart from Mumbai, I got orders from Cochin, Chandigarh and Ludhiana,” shares Mehta.
For designer Swapnil Shinde, who started off as a Gen Next designer in 2006, LFW has been a lucrative option. It began with “one buyer — Satva in Bandra, and season after another, he stocked business with Creo every two months, Aza every four-six months, and international orders with Haya Couture (Dubai), 75 (South Africa) and a whole lot of personal clients from New York, London, Durban and Johannesburg among others.”
The buyers, who are the most important aspect of the revenue side of the event, are a happy lot. Pradeep Hirani, owner of multi-designer store Kimaya, who placed orders with Namrata Joshipura, Narendra Kumar and Vaishali S, says that this season has shown a marked improvement than earlier shows. “It’s been very strong from a buyer’s perspective. Compared to the last season, this time’s collections were better. Designers put in a lot of effort," he reasons. Seconding his opinion is Falguni Jhaveri of Fuel who made bookings with Vikram Phadnis, Nupur Kanoi, Sneha Arora, Soumitra Mondol, Stephany and Karishma Jamwal. The best part, she believes, was that most collections had a very good retail value. “Previously, Gen Next designs would be good but somewhere the wear-ability aspect was lost; this time, they’ve kept that wear-ability element intact,” she gauges, and is also glad that Gen Next designers were geared with production, and were ready to deliver clothes by the delivery time. “In the past, we’ve seen that most Gen Next designers lacked the capacity of delivering on time,” she adds.
We asked the experts to suggest ideas for Fashion Week to be an all-round success:
> Swapnil Shinde: They need to focus on fashion first, and then on celebrities.
> Arpan Vohra: Organisers should focus more on bringing Middle-Eastern buyers, for better business opportunities.
> Krishna Mehta: LFW should have happened earlier for designers to get more time to deliver their orders. The first week of February is ideal.
> Pradeep Hirani: They need to break away from the mould. It’s getting a bit predictable, year after year, in terms of the event. For example, when one attends Milan Fashion Week, the event takes over the entire city. There are so many fashion events at all times in different parts of the city. Similar is the case with Japan Fashion Week — we need to do something on those lines.
> Falguni Jhaveri: Most designers are never at their stalls when buyers drop by, so three-four trips have to be made. They should be around, ideally — to connect with the buyer. Such criterion should be laid down. Also, most designers don’t keep their collections in the stalls before the show. This should not be the case because ultimately, it’s a trade fair, we need to see the collections, even if we’ve missed the show.
Breaking new ground
“Over 210 buyers registered for Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2013. What is specially interesting is that our buyers within India are no longer concentrated in the metropolitan cities only, the buyer base have expanded to Tier 2 cities like Raipur, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmedabad. They not only include buyers who retail through stores but also those names online platforms. This year, we even saw countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and the United States, at LFW.”
— Saket Dhankar, Head-Fashion, IMGReliance