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Fashion just got flash-mobbed

When an troupe of dancers and models break into choreographed movements beside you at a bar, and slide out of trench coats and into sexy dresses, you know you've just been 'flash-mobbed' by a fashion label

Shubhika Sharma, a 24 year-old fashion designer and founder of new high-street fashion brand Papa Don't Preach, was not on Facebook till June this year. She didn't believe in 'marketing' herself to the world, and she didn't see the point of why people needed to do it everyday. Cut to five months later, this non-exhibitionist is pulling all stops for the launch of her label's online shopping website this month.



Flash! Boom! Bang!
Earlier this week, Sharma deployed a cutting-edge social phenomenon in the West -- the flash mob --to her marketing mix of the launch, and conducted a flash mob at a popular Bandra bar around 11 pm.

The lights went dim, models dressed in trench coats mingling with the crowd, took position. An electronic DJ mix started booming on the speakers and an audio-visual video started. The models dropped the trench coats, showed off sexy dresses designed by Sharma, did a few choreographed antics for a minute, and then moved about distributing brand merchandise.

"Our attention span is only a few minutes. A flash mob makes you feel involved; you sense a first-hand experience. It stays with you and it would be the perfect way to get people to see the clothes and talk about the label," she says.

Mob mentality
A flash mob is a group of people assembling in a public place for a few minutes, performing a dance or a random act, and then dispersing off. This trend picked up in the West a few years ago, where groups of citizens, in hundreds, would plan flash mobs (read pillow fights and silent discos) at stations and subways.

The flash mob, which started with no real purpose or focus, is now being seen as a successful marketing tool by many including Sharma. The Indian Premier League (IPL) being one of the first, who announced this year's series launch by organising flash mobs in different cities in various public spots.

"There are several independent labels and brands in India today that are doing well. So the challenge is how do you get people to talk about your brand," she says. The idea flashed to Sharma as a result of an episode in popular teen drama, Gossip Girl, in which a budding fashion designer flash mobs an elitist party, puts up a quasi-fashion show and distributes Polaroid photos of the collection.

"I have a pictographic memory of this episode from two years ago in London, and I thought it was perfect for my brand, which is fun, cool, edgy, and even sexy," says Sharma. Papa Don't Preach is a high-street fashion brand, with bold colours, fun cuts, playful designs, sometimes with a touch of S&M, along with a mix of sexy dresses and sarees.

"My brand doesn't compete with a Rohit Bal or Rocky S. It's a high-street brand, and hence it doesn't make sense for it to be stocked next to designer wear with such high mark-ups. Who wants to pay Rs 7,000 for a jersey dress?"

she points out. Sharma has therefore launched her own online shopping platform (www. papadontpreach.com), where shoppers can buy online, pay cash on delivery and even ask for a customised size by filling in measurements in the 'Made to Measure' section. "The online shopping website is perfect for my target audience of 16 to 25-year-olds, who spend half their life online."

Papa Don't Preach's autumn-winter collection starts at Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,500. Sarees are priced between Rs 11,000 to Rs 35,000.
 
Log on to: www. papadontpreach.com

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