Almost three months ago,Mumbai-based designer duo Kiran Jaisinghani and Meghna Himmatrakma,of fashion label Myoho,approached the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI). This was for a debut at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2012,that began on Wednesday. The process,they say,is tedious,full of technicalities and paper work. Besides the portfolio,you are expected to send in your labels turnover details,income-tax returns,sales details from retail stores,buyer details and even photos of the workshop. Organisers want to be sure that you are financially secure, explains Jaisinghani. Its only after submitting these details that the list of Hi5 (a group of five debutant designers who do a collective show) is made. Thats not all. The next step is paying the participation fee. We paid Rs 2 lakhs for the show and the stall, she adds.
Among the 138 designers showcasing this time,14 are new,like Myoho. Some have managed shared shows,while others will only display at stalls. Every year,new names crop up some of them stay in recall,most fade away from memory even before the lights are back on. Nupur Kanoi,Shantanu Singh,Vaishali S,Ritu Pande,Tahera Peeran,Pallavi Singhee and Sakshee Pradhan are among those who are nervously gearing up for their big debut with Hi5. This,despite the fact that a couple of them,like Myoho,have already shown for five seasons at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai. Yet to debut here,they must begin all over again.
Despite its seasonal memory,fashion is a competitive profession. Newcomers must compete with veteran designers who have been around for more than two decades. The latter get the biggest sponsors,best time slots,most watched front rows,best media coverage,even the biggest crowd pullers as showstoppers. The newbies must also face the buyers. Big Indian stores are usually reluctant to stock new labels. Ask Jenjum Gadi of Koga. Different niche markets exist inside the large fashion market; its all about knowing your buyer. International buyers dont care about the label or the name,they are only looking for creativity and smart prices, he says. Gadis confidence comes from his debut,where he and his business partner Jasleen got their first big order at LFW in 2008. The brand now retails from Aza in Delhi and Creo in Mumbai.
Yet GenNext shows (a category launched first by LFW) have spawned new retail ideas. Hyderabad-based Vinita Passary was inspired to start a store with quirky,eclectic and unheard of fashion. Anonym,now an interesting alternative fashion destination,has inspired other stores. We are open to names that are unheard of. For us,its not the label or the name,its the product that matters, says Passary,adding that the risks she took with new names has paid off even though the business model is difficult to sustain.