Let's talk about next, baby
As Gen Next designers, they got wrinkled fashion critics excited about their debut collections, and many years later, several of them continue to effortlessly catwalk their way through the world of fashion
Since 2006, when the Gen Next concept was introduced at the Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai, till 2012, 101 designers were brought into the fashion industry. Tomorrow, another six new names will be added to the Gen Next List. Where are these 101 designers? Did success come knocking on their doors soon after their magical moment on the ramp?
The progression of a Gen Next designer in a fashion week is normally from the show to the Emerging Designer section and then finally to the Established Designer and then solo show presentation, which proves that the brand has made it up the ladder of success.
New age stars
The gods of fashion business have been very kind to many of these rising stars. Their creations are coveted by the rich and famous in India and abroad and they have been honoured with several awards and plum assignments. From the 2006 Gen Next class, Abdul Haldar retails in the Middle East, Swapnil Shinde dresses Bollywood divas; while Nida Mahmood has quirky collections, which get her a full house at fashion weeks.
The Gen Next class of 2007 had heavyweights like Nachiket Barve who dresses Jaya Bachchan, Sonali Bendre Behl and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan; while Kallol Datta was the Grand Finale designer for Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2012. Nitin Bal Chauhan, Debarun Mukherjee, Digvijay Singh, Rimzim Dado, Harangad Singh, the very innovative Vivek Karunakaran and Vivek Kumar along with the Master of Seamless Construction Anuj Sharma are now household names. Kunal Rawal, a specialist in men’s wear, dressed the stars of Desi Boyz.
Anand Bhushan (2008) a double graduate from National Institute of Design (NID) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) has created a niche for himself, while Manish Gupta was immediately commissioned in 2009 by Westside for a collection. Rimi Nayak and Sanjay Hingu from Gen Next 2008 are now regulars at fashion weeks and on the store racks.
Masaba Gupta (2009) scored a bull’s eye by being appointed the Creative Director of the decades-old Satya Paul brand. Paromita Banerjee, Tanvi Kedia, Athithi Gupta and Amalraj Sengupta have turned into well-known names on the fashion marquee. Riddhi and Siddhi Mapxencar, Sougat Paul, Ruchika Sachdeva, Nikhil Thampi, Sabah Khan, Siddharta Arya, Tanya Sharma, Yogesh Chaudhary, Sneha Arora, Teresa James and Roger Prince have graduated into the Emerging Designer category.
Small town wonders
Does fashion necessarily favour the big city slickers or can some names from the boondocks also make it big through the Gen Next platform? With the NIFT having 15 branches in India, which not only include metros, but towns like Shillong, Raebareli, Patna, Kannur, Jodhpur, Kangra, Bhopal and Bhubaneshwar; there is a big influx of creativity that is causing a stir in the fashion industry and a bigger invasion is expected in the future from the tier 2 cities.
Rahul Mishra got a standing ovation for his Kerala handlooms reversible collection at the Gen Next Show in 2006. Hailing from a village called Malhausi near Kanpur in UP, Rahul is one of the most feted, awarded and respected designers in the business and praised by fashion authorities such as Didier Grumbach, President, Fédération Française de la Couture, in France as the name to watch out for in India. Aneeth Arora (2007) a graduate of NID and NIFT proved that being from Udaipur is no problem because her brand Pero is one of the most sought after; with its Indian handlooms as the base, it has won her awards and orders from around the globe.
Samar Firdos (2006) from Bhagalpur promotes his fabulous fabrics woven in his town and retails in Mumbai and Delhi. Sailex, who hails from Manipur, studied in Milan and NIFT and has notched up a great clientele since his 2008 Gen Next debut.
The other side
Each season the Gen Next show at LFW, which is held at noon (an odd time for a show) is a house full event, eagerly awaited by the media, buyers and the retailers. There is a great buzz and frenzy about the show as the newbies stand with bated breath for bouquets or brickbats. How does the retail fraternity react to the Gen Next platform?
Falguni Zaveri of Fuel the multi designer store visits LFW each season to pick up new talent. “At the last season of LFW Winter/Festive 2012 we picked up the collections of Richa Aggarwal and Aniket Satam. Both have done well as we are very supportive of new designers.
Where the new designers falter, is in production as they are not geared for it. Their mind is on creativity and they are inexperienced when it comes to the business angle of fashion.” Tony Singh, The Designer Studio, Mumbai, emphatically states, he never sees a Gen Next show, for that matter he never attends fashion shows.
“We are interested in seeing the garments looking at the quality, feel and finish which we do at the designers’ stalls and while the Gen Next designers may be good, they are not totally suitable for our clients. Also the quality and value for money is important. Gen Next designers should not rely on PR but build a brand with quality and price.” Aniket Satam who was in the Gen Next show of LFW Winter/Festive 2012 is a self-made designer from a middle class family.
He lost his parents at a young age and has built his brand ‘brick by brick’. “The Gen Next show helped build visibility and I got buyers’ support and they picked up my ramp collection. It pushed my label into the limelight and the show created a lot of anticipation and pressure to perform,” he said.
As the fashion season starts in India, the industry awaits the entry of the six names that will make their debut tomorrow. Time will tell if the truly talented will rise to the pinnacle like so many of their predecessors.
The Lakme Fashion Week begins on March 22 and ends on March 26 at the Grand Hyatt, Santacruz (East).
Meher Castelino is a veteran fashion writer