Hit by the economic slowdown,a few Delhi-based fashion designers have come together to explore offshore markets,starting with Dubai.
A two day exhibit called 12,put together by the year-old Fashion Foundation of India (FFI) recently took 11 designers to the desert city to check the potential for growth of Indian fashion products in West Asia. Among the troupe were designers like Preeti Chandra,Tarun Tahiliani,Rohit Bal,and the label Azara.
Culturally,West Asia relates to Indian wear, says Sumeet Nair of the FFI. And in this downturn we have to think out of the box and find new markets to survive.
Day One of the event,held in mid-January,was to develop relations with fashion stores in West Asia,while the exhibition was thrown open to the public on the second day. The event was held at the cultural and artistic hub of Dubai,a 19th century heritage building at Al-Bastakia,and the returns,say the designers,have been surprisingly good.
Harvey Nichols Riyadh has placed orders worth approximately 1,00,000 dirhams with designers Rohit Bal,Tarun Tahiliani and Malini Ramani for their autumn-winter collection. Sauce,another trendy fashion boutique based in Dubai,placed a smaller order with six other designers.
I am very happy with the response from West Asia, says Malini Ramani. Business is very slow in India and I have cut back on production till things turn around.
The exhibition was publicised with direct mailers and tie-ups with Coal,a popular fashion magazine. Nair hosted a radio show urging people to come and see clothes by Indian designers. Estimates by the FFI suggest Indian fashion designers are hit badly by the global slowdown and,as of the last quarter,are selling almost 60 per cent less in India. High rentals,fixed costs and piling up of stock are other areas of concern.
Some of our orders from the US and Europe were cancelled last month. Dubai seemed more positive, says Alpana of the label Azara.
Nair says since Indians spend on special occasions,designers focussing on wedding wear will not be as badly affected. Of course,spending is much more muted and that trend is likely to continue, he says.
12,he says,will probably become a biannual event and spread to other cities in West Asia.