Event Price tags and trimmed frills become the talking points as two fashion weeks hit the Capital

Tough times seek prudent steps. So it will be in Indian fashion when the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (March 18) and the Delhi Fashion Week (March 19) open this week. The colour, glamour, drama — all keep their promise. However, unlike boom time, caution will be a presence like never before, in surreal fashion. Designers are making their permutations and combinations and admit it is time to trim the frills. Price points and compromises on it are no more greeted with frowns. A touchdown with reality has prompted a few to tweak their designs keeping the quality intact. In short, designers will walk a tight rope, anticipating a mixed market, hoping they have taken the right precautions.

“Value for money” is the new catch line. Pick and choose one that will last, believe the shoppers. “Mix and match,” say the designers.

“In times like these we can’t expect people to buy just because something is a brand,” says veteran Ritu Kumar. “They are going to mix and match and would want to take mileage out of one purchase. It will be more value for the same price,” says Kumar.

An investment

“A rock-solid product is the mantra,” says the young Anupama Dayal, who has a stall at WIFW and a show at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. “People will go for less whimsical clothes which assure longevity and are an investment,” says Dayal.

“Clients are looking for special pieces — extravagance if it is done beautifully,” says Vineet Bahl who has a stall at DFW.

“There is lots of mix and match,” says Namrata Joshipura about her WIFW collection. “I have made the collection slightly more glamorous and used special detailing. I usually use embroidery extensively, but this collection is not as embellished. Cuts and silhouettes have been the focus,” says Joshipura revealing where she has veered from the norm to suit the times and adding, “The prices are competitive, but I can’t compromise on the aesthetics. I might take home less money.”

Another advocate of the “mix and match” recipe for fettered times, Anjana Bhargav has taken some firm decisions. “I have brought down the price points by 15 to 20 per cent. I am not doing a preview. Certain frills can be done away with,” says Bhargav who will show at the WIFW. Taking the less embellishment, stress on cuts and silhouettes, no-compromise- on-quality path, Bhargav says, “I sourced fabrics from slots that are cost-effective.”

“Advertising, photo shoots and other frills will be looked at more conservatively. It is the time of correction,” pitches in Kumar. “Too much bling will go out of the window.”

For a few young designers, it is proving a tough ask. To stay in the picture and sell well, many are forced to take some ruthless steps on pricing. “The price tags are so low that it’s painful,” rues Dayal, who has gone in for as much as a 30 per cent cut. “Now, instead of a 9 p.m. show, I will take a 7 p.m. show. I may opt for a two-designer show instead of a solo one,” Dayal chooses slots that are cheaper. Young designer duo Smita and Himanshu of 11.11 by Celldsgn showcasing at the DFW say they are going to take a serious look at their pricing. “We are looking at a 10 to 20 per cent decrease,” says Smita. “However, we are a new brand and we don’t want to fade from people’s memory. So when it comes to the show, we aren’t really limiting our creativity,” she adds.

Abhijeet Khanna who has opted for a stall at DFW says, “I have made a collection that is commercial, and the stress is on saleability.” Khanna meanwhile is not too bothered about the price points as he feels it has always been market-friendly. “If I don’t get a good order now, that will show the impact of recession,” he says.

Bahl, who believes his prices can’t be slashed further, says it would be “foolish” to cut down on the so-called frills. “From a business point of view, every expense is justified. Youngsters anyway have a tight budget,” he adds. According to Bahl, slowdown is a double-edged sword for youngsters. “It means we get less funding. But, we can experiment and go safe if we want. We can adapt more quickly than the established designers,” he concludes.