The year began on a promising note for the fashion industry. With the Indian economy slated to grow at 8-10 per cent, people have large disposable incomes. This, coupled with a spurt in population, could result in more young people joining the consumer bandwagon. To satiate their appetite for the luxuries of life, the fashion and design industry must be prepared to deliver international quality products with a retail experience and service quality as is available abroad.
As I see it, high-end fashion products are currently only affordable to a very small percentage of our population. But that is set to change and will not be limited to tier 1 and tier 2 cities in the next few years.
International fashion houses have tagged India a ‘hot’ market. Though a few recall value brands have set up shop on Indian soil, India is still a ‘supplier’ country. Indian fashion houses enjoy a reasonable amount of presence in the West but not enough for the international market to completely buy into Indian goods.
Young people, aspiring to be successful designers, have to love fashion, stay consistently creative and understand the progressive inspirations of the market. Aesthetics with regard to colour, proportion and style in sync with the requirements of the consumer are a must. Fashion is specifically about designed products meeting the present aspirations of individual consumers.
As far as demand is concerned, there is need for variation — slow fashion, fast fashion, green fashion and affordable fashion. The industry favours both hedonism as well as stoicism. The maximum potential is in the women’s fashion vertical with high value addition and something that meets social and cultural needs.
Tap into potential
India is proud of its rich and varied textile heritage. Upcoming designers should be exposed to rich visual stimuli. At the same time, they must take care of intellectual property rights. Designers should experiment in the market with entrepreneurial spirit. Brands cater to consumers at different levels of household incomes. Working for a brand or launching one’s own label would depend on a designer’s aspirations and abilities. Starting one’s own label calls for entrepreneurial skill.
The government can also help ease the process for young designers. It can create policies, facilities and infrastructure. The government must consolidate and improve India’s brand image from a ‘sourcing’ country to a ‘resource’ destination. The country has to look at fashion and lifestyle as a serious industry, removing bottlenecks in the value chain. Right now, it is a fragmented industry across different components of the supply chain which must come together as a cohesive, organised, progressive force.
This is a constantly evolving industry, and is highly consumer-driven. The challenge is to meet aspirations that keep shifting in influences from around the world. Institutes that offer fashion design courses must be open to a flexible curriculum.