A backstage look at Fashion Weeks for a cause

Jul 26, 2013, 10:42 IST | Ruchika Kher and Dhara Vora

Globally, Fashion Weeks have associated themselves with a range of social causes. Now, this trend seems to be finding appeal on India's ramps too. With an increasing number of Fashion Weeks sharing the spotlight with socially relevant issues, the fashion circuit in the country is waking up to this calling. Ruchika Kher and Dhara Vora went backstage for a dekko of these cause-driven efforts

From Milan Fashion Week to Ukrainian Fashion Week, fashion events across the world are feeling the need to use their platform for pressing issues.

Taking a cue from their international counterparts, Indian Fashion Weeks are also taking the plunge by making efforts to raise a coherent voice for good.

More than 40 unique designer creations were featured on the ramp in support of Save Our Tigers campaign at LFW in March this year. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

“It’s a very noble step and should be viewed positively. Fashion Weeks grab eyeballs, so they are apt forums to talk about a cause. Besides, people with heavy purses attend these events, so it’s a good way to ask them to loosen their purse strings for a good cause,” reasons Pradeep Hirani, CMD of Kimaya Fashions.

Seconding his thoughts, designer Swapnil Shinde reminds us of international model Naomi Campbell’s shows under the name, Fashion for Relief, since 2005, to raise funds through auctions. “These were organised to help victims of tragedies like Hurricane Katrina and the Mumbai terrorist attacks. So, I see no reason why we can’t do it in India,” he asserts.

’Cause it’s important
The Summer Resort edition of Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) promoted the Save Our Tigers campaign and PETA’s Fashion For Paws initiative and Delhi’s Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week created awareness about human trafficking.

“LFW looks at creative ways to promote social causes with our audience, attendees and other stakeholders. We work with each of the NGOs to ensure that their association with the event is tailored to their needs, which guarantees long-standing awareness,” says Saket Dhankar, Head – Fashion, IMG Reliance, the organisers of the event. Benazir Suraiya, Lead Media and Celebrity Projects Coordinator, PETA India, adds, “The fashion fraternity and many others not only took home tips on the latest trends but also lessons about being compassionate towards animals on streets.”

Actress Waheeda Rehman, designer Shaina NC and actress Juhi Chawla during the Caring With Style fashion show in association with the Cancer Patients Aid Association, which featured designer Manish Malhotra too. Pic/Shadab Khan

This year, Bangalore Fashion Week (that began yesterday) is already taking forward this connect by associating itself with the cause of breast cancer awareness. They’ve tied up with organisations such as HCG Foundation and Pink Hope. Firoz Khan, Director, Bangalore Fashion Week, throws light on the reasons behind the move. “The fashion fraternity has the strength to reach out to people, make an impression and be heard. We believe it is time we use our voice to do our bit for society and create awareness,” he says, adding that breast cancer awareness is a cause that is close to the fashion fraternity, given the role of women in the field — as designers, models or consumers. Breast cancer is also most common among urban women.

“Our event appeals to urban women in particular. So, we felt that we could reach out to the right audience if we associate it with our event,” explains Khan.

The event will witness several activities to bring home the point and will feature special shows by designer Abhishek Dutta, who created an exclusive Pink & White Collection to support the cause while designer Arjun Khanna’s collection will be showcased by male models for the Men in Support initiative.

Sense behind the fashion
Mumbai-based designer Shaina NC, known for her association with the Cancer Patients Aid Association and Women’s Achiever Awards says that she has always believed in the concept of glamour with a purpose. “When we first started these awards 20 years ago, it was a relatively new concept. My main reason to associate my work with causes is the self-satisfaction that I get. Also, not every organisation receives grants or is associated with big names.

Hence, fashion events are a good platform to acquaint people.”

Known for her sari designs, Shaina NC’s shows have always attracted big names across Bollywood, television and politics. She believes it’s better to have real people across age groups and sizes than skinny models walk the ramp. “It’s why I chose celebrities from different generations. Whatever the mode is, our aim should be to give the audience something to think about and then be a part of,” she explains. 

Weave a cause
Designer Shruti Sancheti who created a line of apparel in association with the Maharashtra Weaver’s Board at the Summer Resort edition of LFW in March, will be working with the association again this season (August 2013) for her collection, titled Saaj. “The board works with almost 300 weavers from the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra. I am from Nagpur and I know the condition of these craftsmen and hence this cause is close to my heart. The Board was happy with the results and employment that the previous line had generated and they themselves approached me for this season. I have worked with 30 to 40 weavers firsthand and there are several others who will get benefited with this kind of a collaboration,” says Sancheti. 

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