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Home > Business > Special


Fashion designing: India's latest fad

Raghavendra Rathore | November 19, 2005

A mere 12 years ago, fashion designing as a career in our nation - or for that matter Indian fashion designers - seemed as exotic and unknown a subject as kiwi fruits or armadillos running around in the Amazon.

However, these famed top designers of today's India, who started their little enterprises more than a decade ago, had probably never imagined how smoothly they would achieve acclaim and become household names.

Unfortunately for this new breed of self-made "trend" dictators, it seems the often farsighted, ahead-of-the-game visionaries of the investment jungle appeared myopic when it came to seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.

Fortunately, for the desi bandwagon of fashion designers, this is gradually changing.

Interestingly, if statistics are to be analysed, one would realise that all the designers combined have not spent more than Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) in the past to establish themselves as relatively significant brands - this comes as quite a pleasant surprise to honchos who dedicate colossal budgets to creating awareness and ensuring firm grounding for brands.

The Indian apparel market, humming to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 2000 billion), must clearly be the motivating factor (creativity and expression of thought through design, too, of course) behind many of the designers who chose to rough it out in this industry.

Today, the designer segment contributes only 1 per cent of the pie. This is no reason to rejoice, but when this is combined with a growth of 11-30 per cent, depending on which segment one is addressing, this growth is the real reap and a preview into what gains lie ahead.

Imagine a super-luxury brand that becomes India's pride by achieving superlative standards of quality, brilliant design, eternal aspiration values across all spheres of social beings, a holistic range of products and, most importantly, sets a benchmark for Indian design globally - all very possible with a mere investment of Rs 20-50 crore (Rs 200-500 million), and that to through a gradual time-trickle of about three years, especially if one was to observe the way designers today are carving a niche for themselves.

Simply put, maybe there is something to learn from their models -- analytically put, it is the investor backing coupled with a more professional approach and the desire to take the designer brand to its forte, that could be the missing catalyst.

It is almost like a seed with all its ingredients ready and packed, but awaiting fertile soil and the desperate water to blossom. For example, when the net catch is more or less Rs 1,300 on a product such as a men's wear shirt, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that with an average sale of two shirts per day over 25 days, and around 160 designer outlets dotted across the country desperate for retailing merchandise, you end up making about Rs 10.5 crore (Rs 1.05 million) by selling just one product, and that too pessimistically for just 10 months, not even a full year.

Now combine that with an average factory with a capacity to churn out about 3,000 shirts -- the math I leave to you. Go figure for yourself the lucrative nature of this industry.

Unfortunately, the same is yet to be realised by many of the best in this business. Protecting one's resources and ensuring continuity to any business tie-up with a designer is probably as easy and pleasurable as having a martini in the afternoon, but as time and opportunity slip by, the martini turns to chai time.

If the success model can be achieved, then this is the struggle that history will remember our generation of designers and businessmen for -- and of course, blame us, if we fail!


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