Perspective | 15th year of LFW attracts diverse set of brands

Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2015 marks the completion of fifteen glorious years of fashion. India’s premier fashion platform, recently unveiled the list of 84 participating designers and 15 sponsors, as part of the celebratory season. To be held from 18th to 22nd March 2015 in Mumbai, the forthcoming season will host a perfect mix of upcoming talent and the industry’s most established names that will set an unparalleled benchmark of diversity, creativity and fashion.

To celebrate its 15th anniversary Lakmé Fashion Week visited multiple cities before raising the curtain in Mumbai, giving each city an exclusive sneak peak of the upcoming, power packed season. Kolkata witnessed an exclusive preview with the city’s very own Grand Finale designer, Anamika Khanna. The excitement continued in Delhi as Manish Malhotra shared insights on the Blue Runway Show as part of the global WEvolve campaign against Gender-based violence at Lakmé Fashion Week. Post a stupendous response in Mumbai, Lakmé Fashion Week took Model Auditions to Bangalore to select 5 more fresh faces of fashion that will walk the ramp this season.

In order to get a deeper understanding on how brands benefit from associating with Fashion shows and how designers benefit, we at Adgully caught up with Saket Dhankar, Head Fashion, IMG, Sandeep Juneja, Vice President, Commercial, DHL Express India Pvt. Limited, Animesh Singh, Head – Brand Marketing, Jabong.com, A.D.A Ratnam, President Consumer Lifestyle, Philips India Ltd and designers like Nishka Lulla, Shilpa Reddy and Neha Agarwal.

On asking Dhankar about how fashion has evolved over 15 years of LFW he said, “I’m really excited about celebrating 15 years. Fashion week in the last 15 years I think has evolved in the sense that we are today seeing a lot more younger designers now. The focus is on younger designers rather than only big names. We are seeing a lot more pret wear collection than bridal wear. Earlier it used to be bridal wear and today it’s more pret wear.

He further elaborates, “The designers are lot more focused. They have their own distinct design philosophy than what it used to be earlier and the buying is also going to be more focused, consumers are more evolved. We are in sync with international trends and they are aware of what they to wear, they are aware about the designers. So that way fashion has evolved a lot in India over the last 15 years. “

“The evolution of Indian consumers is happening at a very fast pace. Especially in the last 3-5 years, with fast fashion coming in, international brands coming in, the Indian consumers are evolving very fast. The kind of change that is happening in the last three years is equal to what happened in the last ten years,” he went on to add.

Speaking about the growth driving factors, Dhankar said, “The social media, the digital media are all the factors that are driving the change and we are evolving at a very fast pace. I think in the next 10 years, we would be in a lot better situation where every person, every individual has their sense of style. That is when I would say that yes, Indians have really arrived. I think it will happen very fast.”

Adding on he said, “LFW is trying to democratize fashion by showing it live to 96 countries and through our social media platform. We have more than 1.5 million followers. So we are also trying to democratize fashion in our way and trying to give chance to the younger designers.”

On asking Dhankar about new associations this season he tells us that we have newer associations with AskMe, Philips, and Killer.

On the other hand Jabong has been associated with Lakmé Fashion Week for three seasons now. Dhankar elaborates on this association, “The next driver is going to be the ecommerce space and the way they are driving Indian fashion, the way they are educating Indian consumers because they are democratizing Indian fashion. It’s much larger than what anyone has done in the last two years. Jabong is more like a strategic partner. We’re also partnering with them for the Jabong stage for showcasing newer talent. So I think it’s more of a strategic partnership and then Jabong is there in the long run. Right now we have started with two years and we plan to continue with them after that as well.”

He adds, “Jabong does their own tie up with the designers. Lakmé Fashion Week is a platform for marketers and designers to choose where they want to showcase their products. Designers are free to choose their platform. Similarly, Jabong has tie-ups with designers like Rohit Bal, so they do showcase their products online.”

DHL Express on the other hand has a different role to play in this association. Sandeep Juneja, Vice President, Commercial, DHL Express India Pvt. Limited says, “Logistics plays an important role in fashion. There is a lot of back work that goes into organizing the cloth, the make-up and all other equipment that is requirement for the show and we at DHL prove that we have been doing logistics properly so that the show can go on.”

Sharing insights on their association with LFW, Animesh Singh, Head – Brand Marketing, Jabong.com said, “More than anything else, it is our commitment to fashion and strengthening our position in the online Fashion industry in India. This is something that we are more interested in. we are not looking at this as a quick opportunity to invest some money and generate some returns on it. We look at it as a long term strategic partnership which helps us move forward and achieve our vision. So that’s how we look at it.”

Speaking about innovations he said, “We come up with a lot of innovations. We have a Jabong Stage where you will be seeing a lot of young talent which also goes well with our statement where we want to make fashion not just international and aspirational; we want to also me it accessible and would like to nurture talent which is young raw talent. So this is the kind of innovation.”

He added, “Apart from that we will be having 5 dimensional stage, which we have done earlier also. This will allow you to really work through augmented reality and when you put on those glasses, you will almost be able to walk like a live brand, see live audience and it is all supported by virtual and augmented reality and puts everything in 5 dimensions.”

Philips over the years has been into grooming. Speaking about what LFW brings to the tables for Philips A.D.A Ratnam, President Consumer Lifestyle, Philips India Ltd said, “Styling is not all about wearing make-up, or sarees but grooming is also important. Philips at this time is all into grooming and styling and hair dressing and everything. It’s for both men and women.”

He further adds, “The way we are bringing in new products, we are trying to show what we can do a man and women independently, off being in a parlour and going to a men’s stylist instead.”

Ratnam also said that it’s not always about ROI. He added, “I would not say ROI but we have got visibility and that’s what is important. We were associated with the youth and brought something to the table and that’s what is more important, everything is not ROI.”

We also asked some of the young designers about what’s new this season. Here’s a look at what each of the young designers had to say.

Nishka Lulla said, “It’s always great to showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week because you get to come up with something new every time. It’s always about graduating from somewhere so I can always build up my collection at LFW and there are always great people to work with and I am happy to do that.”

She adds, “For me the challenge is that every year, everybody comes up with something new. Expectations wise, we designers always have high expectations, we always have to come up with something new better than what we have done before and that’s always a challenge.”

Shilpa Reddy said, “Being a part of Lakmé Fashion Week 2015 feels like homecoming. I have been a part of it before and I am always looking forward to it, not just for my preparation, to enjoy the five day fashion fiesta. I’m brimming with excitement to present my collection.”

Lastly, Neha Agarwal, a Young Fashion Designer said, “It is always a pleasure being a part of Lakmé Fashion Week. I’ve worked ardently to create my designs – I eagerly wait for the show to begin.”

Indeed brands are looking at fashion as an industry to associate with for highlighting their visibility. It gives them a platform to show how best their products and services are. It’s a rich platform where brands, designers and industry stalwarts come together and appreciate the work that is showcased. By Archit Ambekar | Twitter: @aambarchit

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