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IFF 2014 Creating the Next Fashion Revolution

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Fashion is ever changing. With the changing trends and change in customer’s perspective towards fashion, it is imperative for the professionals involved across the entire value chain of the fashion industry – right from the fashion designers to the manufacturers to the retailers and the fashion journalists – to create an aura for consumers to want fashion.  Their main objective is to make consumers aware of the latest trends, educate them on an inspirational lifestyle and become a fashion forward consuming class, which will increase fashion consumption and revolutionise fashion in India.

The internet arena in today’s time is very different, with more and more people spending time on online shopping websites, online fashion forums, etc. , Founder & Blogger-in-chief of MissMalini.com, stated that customers need a curator to understand what is fashionable. She believes in democratising fashion by not only helping common people style themselves like their favourite celebrities but also aiding brands to create an identity such that the common people connect and relate with the brand.

According to Manish Kapoor, COO, French Connection: “Fashion is a phenomenon that is not concentrated only in major cities but across 1.2 billion people in India. Nowadays, people in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities are also looking up to fashion and are trying to incorporate new trends in their .” He believes in two factors that help in increasing fashion: First, commercialisation and viability of the concept and, secondly, inclusiveness.

Dr. Vandana Bhandari, Dean of NIFT, raised an interesting question – “Are Indian entrepreneurs missing out on the art of brand making?” To this, Kapoor responded in the negative, stating that Indian entrepreneurs know their customers and they know that every customer is different, with each of them looking at products differently. They incorporate this in their brand making, where they give value to the customers.

Priyadarshini Rao, Creative Director, Mineral, said that Indian women look for “value” in the product, which fits well and at the same time is aesthetically appealing. This is what motivated her to change from being just a designer to starting a brand of her own.

Another revolution in fashion is changing the customer’s shopping experience. Online retailing has brought in with it many advantages, such as convenience, variety and easy accessibility. According to Pradeep Hirani, MD, Kimaya, the next step is to bring online retailing to a whole new level. He believes that the 3D Printing technology is going to be a “New Dictator of Fashion” and it will bring in the end of the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping concept.

This will not only make life easier but will also allow people to use their creative skills in designing their own clothes at their convenience from home. Another technology worth mentioning is the Colour Changing Technology.

Hirani also plans to bring the virtual trial room to India. Named Karmik, it will be located at Delhi International Airport and has been designed in such a way that will revolutionise the customer’s shopping experience. Here, a customer would be able to select outfits of their choice on an iPad without having to move around in the store, thus saving time. After making the selection, the customer would ‘enter’ a virtual trial room where they can try on all the outfits ‘digitally’.

As per Kapoor this new technology will only attract a few high-end customers but will not affect the high street fashion markets. A second objection was raised by Dr. Bhandari, where she said that such a technology might add to the ever-growing problem of unemployment in India, and then concluded this topic saying that people will experiment with this new technology but in the end, the customer would always want to feel the garment before actually buying it.

Sustainability is also a new arena that is creating the next fashion revolution. Sumit Gupta, India Representative, Global Organic Textile Standard (G.O.T.S.), emphasised the importance of creating sustainable apparels right from sourcing sustainably grown fibres to the processing of the garment by using chemicals with low to zero toxicity levels, to the practices involved in the processing, to partnering with retailers who support sustainability and are BSI certified, till the apparel reaches the end consumer.

On this, Dr. Bhandari questioned Rajiv Nair, CEO of Celio Future Fashion on the importance for a brand to educate consumers on sustainability. Nair affirmed that it is very important for a company to first follow green practices and then spread awareness among the customers.

He stated that Celio collaborates with only those companies that are BSI compliant. The only problem with sustainability is that even if consumers are aware of the positive effects, they are not willing to pay higher prices for such sustainable products. Celio also tries to revolutionise menswear by democratising it. It gives a sense of twist to the brand. He believes that the core of any product lies in creativity, and Celio gives precisely that to its customers.

In the end, creating aspiration in consumers to want fashion and make interesting ways to attract them by giving them new technology and new experience, refined and sustainable products will not only revolutionise fashion but will drive fashion consumption in India.