At the IFF ’10, an eminent set of panelists explored the equation between ‘Bollywood and Fashion’. As the name suggests, there were debates about the star power of Bollywood celebrities and their fashionable persona that help the various retail brands to communicate better with the consumers.
Well known fashion designers such as Narendra Kumar and Anita Dongre were a part of the panel. Siddharth Lulla, director of Neeta Lulla’s brand, NSL Fashion Pvt Ltd, represented her brand at the forum. From their close association with bollywood, they put forward their views about how the role of a designer has evolved over the years.
The industry panel included some of the captains from the fashion retail segment such as Chetan Shah, MD, Pepe London (India), Akhil Chaturvedi, director of Provogue (India) Ltd, Rahul Vira, CEO, Gilli India Ltd and Sanjay Bindra, director of Biba. Sailesh Chaturvedi, CEO and director, Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India was the moderator for the session.
Bindra said, “Bollywood merchandising is a new phenomenon but Biba has been associated with 12 movies over the past five years and have done very well with movie merchandising. The patiyalas in Devdas designed by designer Neeta Lulla and Preity Zinta’s attire in the film Hero was created by Abu Jani did extremely well at our stores. Also the white chiffon sarees from the movie Na Tum Jano Na Hum are still in demand at our stores after selling for over two years.” In this context Chaturvedi added, “The t-shirt line which we had introduced for the movie Wake Up Sid with chest print are still popular.”
As the debate got exciting, Shah pointed out the three things that help a brand to click well with the masses as far as movie merchandising is concerned. He said, “When we were associated with Dhoom 2 three years back what worked for us was vision, relevance and execution. The movie was shot overseas and thus had the international appeal as well, like our brand. We pre-sold the merchandise to the MBOs, distributors and franchises by showing the clippings of actors like Bipasha Basu, Aishwariya Rai and Hrithik Roshan sporting our products.” Van Heusen had designed an exclusive collection from a bollywood movie Ghajini. Shital Mehta, COO, Van Heusen claimed, “ We had set a trend in power dressing by making waist coats popular since actor Amir Khan, playing a business tycoon from the telecom industry had worn the same in the film. The return on investment (ROI) also exceeded our expectation.”
From the designer’s perspective, Kumar said, “A designer can actually affect how the audience perceive fashion in a movie.” To which Lulla added, “A designer can create character opulence but in Bollywood, there is a lot of input that comes form the directors as well. In Hollywood also if a character like Harry Potter becomes popular, the merchandise sells well.” Dongre however felt, “It is just the beginning for the designers as the full potential of the designer in Bollywood is yet to be explored.” She also brought in the paradox that movie merchandising is a challenging business. She observed, “In this age of multiplexes, the movies don’t run for six months anymore. Also the attention span of the audience has become shorter, so the trends in fashion keep changing. I agree that there is a huge connect between fashion and Bollywood and the movie merchandise does very well with the NRI communities as well.”
The issue about hits and misses in Bollywood is inevitable so does the review of a movie affect the retailers whose brand ambassadors are the bollywood celebrities? To this final question put forward to the panel, Chaturvedi concluded, “As a retailer we can’t sell an entire range through a movie but it does help to get the consumer into our stores. It is the persona of the actor to which a brand needs to connect in order to communicate its essence to the end consumer.”
— Sayanti Banerjee, Mumbai Bureau