Text by Ranjabati Das, with inputs from Akanksha Pandey and Sarah Rajkotwala. Photographs by Naomi Shah and Asad Sheikh.
The discourse around the reordering of priorities as well as long-standing power dynamics within the industry — brought on by growing consumer awareness and the democratisation of fashion through digitalisation and social media, and geared towards making fashion more sustainable and inclusive — has already taken centre stage in recent years. And, as expected, the return of the physical format of FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week in March 2022, after two years of caution exhibited through phygital versions in a post-pandemic world, gave fresh impetus to the conversation around the relevance of fashion weeks, one of the many contentious facets of an industry in need of dire change.
In an effort to create a roadmap for the future, Verve brings to you a motley collection of opinions to dissect the legitimacy of the pride of place fashion weeks have come to enjoy over time and across the world despite the dissonance created by an outdated model that leaves much to be desired in terms of access and financial yields. Pointing towards a spate of changes deemed vital to make fashion weeks more current, experiential and interpersonal, these reiterate the need to challenge the status quo and reclaim a more authentic face of fashion, most visible perhaps in fashion week’s potential to inspire and offer a space for celebration, drive innovation, mould talent, make statements and address collective cultural histories.
At the latest edition of the event, members of the fashion fraternity weigh in on the pros and cons, the return to the idea of the fashion show as spectacle powered by celebrities and influencers, and the importance of reinvention:
Rajesh Pratap Singh
“It gives us a timetable, a singular platform for designers and their communication. A calendar for the industry. And it makes the experience convenient for buyers.”
-Rajesh Pratap Singh of his eponymous label.
Abraham & Thakore
“Fashion showcases serve different purposes to different stakeholders. Firstly, fashion shows are a great platform for us designers to creatively spotlight our unique values to merchandisers, buyers and fashion industry professionals. Secondly, we get to speak to the media directly as well as through our showcase, which gives us a voice. Thirdly, in this age of social media, we also get to speak directly to the consumers, who can participate remotely.”
-David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore of Abraham & Thakore.
“At the moment, there aren’t many buyers. Fashion week is more of a media exercise nowadays. Thanks to the amount of stimulation we receive on social media in terms of the influx of labels and fashion imagery, the creative industry has been pushed to a corner. Perhaps we need to reinvent the model of fashion weeks. As much as I enjoy presenting on the runway, it does not always translate to business.”
-Rina Singh of Eka.
Pankaj & Nidhi
“Fashion shows should experiment and take risks. They ought to inspire upcoming designers and not just target the influencer market. Designers get to tell their stories, achieving creative satisfaction. But, somehow, glamour has taken up a large space, the showstoppers are ready before the garments.”
-Mohit Ahuja, influencer.
“Fashion week was a refreshing experience after so long. After the gloom of the pandemic, everybody needed a cause for celebration, and fashion week solidified the fact that fashion is not dead. It proved the relevance of designers, old and new.”
-Ankith ES, stylist.
“The interaction and engagement rate on social media is higher during these events and it helps your page reach new audiences. They lead to a lot of new enquiries, some of which do turn out to be fruitful!”
-Riddhi Jain of Studio Medium.