Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Fashion and Me ?? ....Yes ....Yes ...Yes !!!!

About 7 days back I conducted a 2 hour lecture cum interactive session at the JD Institute of Fashion Design and Technology ( at their beautiful Main campus in Hauz Khaz Village).The lecture had the aim of "Introducing Internet and its applications for young Fashion Designers and Fashion Students" .

You must be wondering ..Fashion ..Mohit ??? Isnt he a IT /Web Project Marketing guy ? Whats he doing lecturing Fashion design students ...???
Well , to answer all these questions and to further dwell into this interesting story..let me take you to an event about 2 years back..!!

Well ,I had my cousin Rupal who was pursuing Jewellery Design at JD Institute .JD organizes these annual graduation events for design students , where in a plush Five start hotel setting..the students get to show their creations on a grand scale..yes you heard it right..on a grand scale..

The event is organized very professionaly by the folks at JD and they leave no stone unturned..after they are showcaising the professional designers work which their institute produces.
The event is marked by a Grand Fashion show on the 2 day events , 2nd night..

So here was I at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Delhi in 2002 , checking out desings done by students designers...asking the students designers..questions..even though I didnt understand half of their technical answers relating to fabric and cut...

However I did learn some cool phrases and fashion terms , their meaning..Haute Couture....Pret..stuff like these..!!!

During my course of interaction with the students I realised their work was as good as any work or piece of fashion cloth ..I would buy from any Big Retail outlet and I would end up paying a hefty price for it too..
In essence...the students had true talent in them...

In my talks with the students I realised..in the fashion circle..a new Fashion designer is basically faced with 3 main decissions/obstacles..which if they manage to overcome succesfully..they will hit the BIG TIME...!! There will be no stopping them ..

The 3 decissions would be :
1. Whether to join a Fashion- export house/Reputed Fashion designer after graduation as a "Trainee "
2. Whether to start up their own small " Boutique " outfit in their city , with some funding from their savings and parents money.
3. Whether to start their own Label ...can they become THE Armani of the new economy...??

The answer to any of these 3 obstacles would depend on the individuals choice or preferences in most of the cases..
However ..this wot my small idea factory started cooking up...

What if theese young Fashion Designers in India did this :
1. Ignore the options 1 or 2 above
2. Focus on Option 2.
3. Plan their label , get funding for their operations from their savings and great old parents
4. Network heavily amongst the fashion frat pack..fellow young designers...learn from each other ..
5. Try and gain momemtum ..and rotate the labels name in the market..and who knows...we might have a winner..a young armani..???..

I know most of you guys might be saying by now..what the hell ..this is rubbish..a person needs on the job experience under an established label..to even think remotely of starting his own label..this is day dreaming..!!! RUBBISH ...

But wait..here in lies my argument..
1. The current big fashion designers from India...what did they do when they were young students?? did they have a fashion designer under whom they trained..or did they take up small jobs in export houses..or did they ventured on their own..???
The answer here will be....most of the big ones..ventured on their own..agreed the market was nascent and new then..its much mature now..!!

2. In any other field like Sports..we keep on hearing these new heroes..a Sachin in cricket at the age of 16 ( the Indian equivalent of baseball) , Tiger woods in Golf..a black playing golf in USA and winning everything under the sun.. IN bussines in India..a Dhirubhai Ambani..a farmer..who made the biggest empire in Indian economy ???

3. These young people have talent in their fields of work ( Fashion here ),have good solid eduational backround and good training from institute like JD...PLUS PLUS PLUS..they have the power of technology , internet ...which a Rohit Bal , Ritu Beri , JJ Valaya etc never had..and even if they can utilize it now..are too occupied in their business and minting money to even think about utilizing the Internet to their maximum advantage...Look at all the websites of big Fashion designers in India www.rohitbal.com www.rituberi.com www.valaya.com ...these websites show just some portfolio..some sexy models..some good lounge music in the background..and voila..thats the limit..they will be "creative" with the internet...and OHHH YES....Flash website and an HTML version for weak bandwidth machines...

Just this..these BIG Fashion designer would never extend their limits and go international or even try to attempt doing it..in a more voyueristic fashion..creative way..Look at Victoria Secrets..www.victoriasecrets.com Look at Guess www.guess.com ..this is American Corporatization of Fashion..making it a good business..work internationally..and being very very HIGH on "creativity with the internet medium".

Hence here in lies my strategy ..for these young Fashion designers..
1. Use the internet creatively..do something unique and never heard of before..think of something..I would dare to say even copy what their American and European counterpart students are doing..( the Indian big guys will never have the energy to even think of this)...you have vast space..a vast sky open for you..compete in this sky..make your web intiative so creative that you will directly attract good buyers both Nationally and internationally..THE WHOLE DOMAIN IS OPEN FOR YOU TO EXPERIMENT..DO IT NOW..BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE CATCHES THE BUS..AND HAS THE FIRST MOVER ADVANTAGE..
2. Pool up funds in your community or have an institute like JD fund a "Online Networking Project " for young fashion designers..
Make a thriving online young students Fashion community..co -work ..co- help..co -create..WIN WIN..!!

This was the essence of my 2 hour lecture at the institute and gauging from the response..I thought it made sense to the students..
I could write another article on steps to make the 3 points above work..( here in I am speaking as a Web Consultant now )...

Conclusion : Someone please wake up and lets have an Indian SAREE LAbel ..which sells on Times Sqaure ..New york.. in a big a STORE..and a big ONLINE Store like GUESS OR VICTORIA...( I actually have big soft corner for those models )
The current BIG Fashion designers from India will never be able to do this..since they are too slow..too NON CREATIVE ( as far as Web and internet goes)....Guys you have a chance..

Web References :

- A Glimpse of students with whom I conducted the interactive session can be seen on this link...
Tomorrows stylists define fashion : Smartzone : HindustanTimes.com
- www.guess.com
- www.victoriassecret.com

Note : The views expressed here are solely of the writer and has nothing to do with any of the organizations or individuals mentioned above.

Comments on the articles and critique of the concept/idea would be seeked and appreciated..

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