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  • Kanika Bhatia

Bullish and Bullying - The Indian Fashion Industry

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

As we complete a year of Anōme, I think it’s time to share my experience with majorly two kinds of people:

1. Industry aspiring on the block.

2. People living in the myth that this is the highest form of glamour post Bollywood in India.

Few notions I would prefer snubbing in the bud:

1. This is not a whistle blowing post.

2. It’s not a rant and am not blowing off steam. These are observations which an outsider would hardly grasp at.

I have had limited experience when it comes to corporate world, and I was fortunate enough to not address office politics at first hand level courtesy a start up culture in my first job. Fashion happened to over compensate for that lack. Do we promote creativity? Well, of course. Do we appreciate difference in design sensibilities? Yes, happily. But do we sell it as much as the so called running fashion? No, they are called staples for a reason. Is the customer choice completely responsible for the above? NO.

It’s a multi layered system of nepotism of pre existing big players, middle men still pushing the high margin, 17th century silhouettes (to be continued forever) because it’s more players, more money and less effort. Your thought that they push what sells is legit, but more often than not, what sells is what’s pushed. The customer cannot imagine what’s not before the eye!

Au contraire to a popular opinion, my fellow designers are far from the tag. But instead, the people working in the ‘shadows’ so to say, are the ones I would unfortunately condemn. This does not begin at the retail level necessarily, it stems from multiple nodes of store merchandisers (offline), exhibitors across categories and buying houses. Everyone keeps a small percentage for ‘experimentation’, meagre to be precise, thus leading to highly competitive fight for the niche market. Result- every player gets a very very very small share of the so called niche and not oddly enough a large percentage of designers re-enters the same dreary market. Logic states that a mix of commercial and experimental should be handled by any designer for sustainable reasons, but have you ever thought why the division is so flawed and the market so small?

First hand experience with exhibitors has time and again made me reconsider my product, or design aesthetics. I can only wonder what it does to actual design students. One time invitation is tough to grab for shows running since few years and who have managed to grab the attention across demographics. The focus has in-turn moved towards fast fashion ruining what once was an exhibit of well curated hand picked designers. We see bangkok/ china stock being resold at high margins only to cut profits of actual designers. Thus, to gain visibility and access to these politicised shows, you better be adding your sense of design to the same anti-fits/ Indian wear or just have a great taste in Bangkok shopping!

It’s high time we understand why the Indian Fashion Industry, is unable to generate International standard voices and why a handful of us are able to spank their booty to gain attention. You are being the unconscious bully to new kids on the block. Your four legged industry standing depends on:

1. Fashion week organisers / Exhibitors (B2C)

2. Designers

3. Retailers and their merchandisers (Online and Offline)

4. Buyers

Labour being the centre of gravity, simply because they are the last one to have a major reaction to any economic changes in the government policies. I would prefer excluding the stylists for logical reasons because they are ones keeping intact what you call ‘the spirit’ essentially. What this industry wants is to be the boyfriend who wants us to dilute our vodka and still be high. Please don’t make love to us like an intellectual. Let the passion flow.

Just understand this, most of us do not enter this industry with the aim to “make a clothing company.” Fashion is communication and art, and we are here to bloody talk and create!




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