India’s fashion week: stronger together than apart?

What to expect at FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week’s united, and first, physical outing this month

March 19, 2022 11:54 am | Updated March 21, 2022 12:15 pm IST

Two Point Two by Anvita Sharma

Two Point Two by Anvita Sharma | Photo Credit: FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week

For two seasons, FDCI and Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) — two of India’s biggest fashion bodies — have presented a joint (phygital) model of fashion week. Next week, they team up once again for their first physical fashion week (March 2022), as coronavirus restrictions ease and India starts to get back on its feet.

Not about parties anymore

A decade ago, fashion week was considered a ‘page 3’ event (a term, in this Instagram-story life, we have since retired), its happenings relegated to the party pages of papers. Bollywood’s prominent showstopper moments, generous alcohol sponsors, larger-than-life showcases by India’s bridal-couture designers, and hotel venues supplemented that image. Murmurs about after-parties would reverberate backstage the next day.

However, in the last few years, fashion weeks have grown up and become democratic, as has the Indian fashion industry. The corporatisation of the governing bodies — with corporate giants buying majority stakes in Indian design houses — has changed the fashion game. Metaverse is the incoming reality, and digital impressions and reach the big strategy. Sustainability, financial and retail growth, and storytelling is the focus.

A Rahul Mishra design for the opening show

A Rahul Mishra design for the opening show | Photo Credit: FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week

“While the bodies (FDCI and LFW) maintain their individual stature, we hope to grow a single fashion week learning from, and leaning on, each other’s strength,” shares Sunil Sethi, the chairman of FDCI, about this third edition together, as they take a cue from international fashion weeks that are presented by a single body.

Rahul Mishra goes first

March 22 marks the beginning of fashion week in Delhi, with Rahul Mishra, India’s first couture designer to showcase at Milan fashion week and a former fashion student of Istituto Marangoni in Milan, presenting his collection at the Italian Ambassador’s house. “The Italian ambassador to India, Vincenzo de Luca, has been a strong supporter of growing relations between the two countries. We feel this partnership will lead to more doors opening for designers and knowledge exchanges as well as showcases for Indian designers in Italy,” says Jaspreet Chandok, Head, RISE Fashion and Lifestyle that organises LFW with Lakme.

Bata x Suneet Verma

Bata x Suneet Verma | Photo Credit: FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week

Many shades of collaboration

This season is about associations, both for young and seasoned brands, and the calendar is packed with partnerships. There’s Nexa cars x Tarun Tahiliani, Bata x Suneet Verma, boAt x Huemn, and Lakmé Salon x Varun Bahl. John Jacobs and realme will be partnering with Shantnu and Nikhil, and Shivan & Narresh respectively. Sneaker giants, Adidas Originals, will provide the sneakers for Khanijo and Antar Agni showcases.

Warehouse on final day
The warehouse-style stockroom sale returns as well, on ground. FDCI-affiliated designers will be invited to sell their older lines at almost 70% mark downs on the last day of Fashion Week.

While the names and money look good, what about unrestricted creativity and guidelines? “For a young industry like ours, the percentage of costs underwritten by sponsors aids in subsidising costs for designers,” explains Chandok. He’s particularly excited about fibre companies that provide more synergistic collaborations, helping the larger fashion community engage with mindful alternatives. This edition will see Satya Paul by Rajesh Pratap Singh’s collection using R-Elan™ fabrics made out of recycled PET bottles. And Tencel  Luxe with their silk alternative will partner with JJ Valaya.

Made in and for India

“A big thing to come out of the pandemic was the shift of focus from international to a domestic market,” notes Sethi. Markets show a robust increase in spending power with the rise of retail and now fashion weeks aim to provide solutions to Indian buyers first, beyond  fashion seasons.

Soham Acharya for Alpona Designs, FDCI x Pearl Academy, and realme x Shantnu and Nikhil

Soham Acharya for Alpona Designs, FDCI x Pearl Academy, and realme x Shantnu and Nikhil | Photo Credit: FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week

Post-pandemic runway
The Delhi venue, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, also features an ‘Atelier’ space apart from the usual main stage area, offering customisation of sets and seating arrangement.

Get with the tech

Two years of pandemic limbo have thrown up many questions about fashion. What use are trends when we’ve spent so many months in pyjamas? And platforms like Instagram and Tik-Tok, with styling videos and outfit ideas, are still popular forms of sponsored content. That Tik-Tok, the video sharing platform, is the official Cannes film festival partner for this season proves that videos are how Gen Z best experience the world. FDCI x LFW understands this too and the fashion week shows will also be live-streamed on OTT platforms like Voot and Jio. There are tie-ups with video app Roposo, and Ajio Luxe will support designers who are ready to follow the ‘see now, buy now’ sale model.

FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week is from March 22-28.

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