FDCI chief sees corporatisation as key factor in fashion industry's growth

NEW DELHI: Beyond the grease-paint routine and between the rising hemlines and plunging necklines, there is a serious yearn of the fashion industry, especially the designer wear segment, to be taken seriously by the government and the financial institutions.

Financial backing by the government and the financial institutions would help in bringing about organised investment into this sector and result in better marketing options.

No wonder Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI)'s executive director Vinod Kaul is excited as he sees a ray of hope in "bringing about more transparency and investment" into the fashion industry. A non-profit body, FDCI organises an annual fashion extravaganza called the India Fashion Week in Delhi or Mumbai,

"Small Industries Development Bank of India or SIDBI (a government-backed financial institution primarily active in the small-scale industries sector) has agreed to form a corpus that can be tapped by small and struggling fashion designers," Kaul told indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of the on-going Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) in Delhi.

The corpus may be small, Rs 500 million, compared to similar initiatives for other industries, but Kaul is hopeful that it would pave the way for "corporatisation of the industry, which is becoming a necessity." FDCI would be signing a memorandum of understanding with SIDBI in a month's time.

For an average person, seeing shapely models of both sexes sashay down the ramp in beautiful clothes --- at times sporting next to nothing --- may look like something exotic, but most do not get to see the sweat and hard labour behind the glitz because even the fashion channels show only glamorous behind-the-scene activities. And, in a country like India it is more so as marketing becomes increasingly difficult for most, apart for the top few.

"That's why FDCI is pushing for the corporatisation of the industry and individual designers," Kaul said, adding India has the designers, but don't have adequate investments and a big enough developed market for sustenance.

Some fashion designers like Rohit Bal (for his pr?t label) and Raghvedra Rathore have corporatised and have professionals running their companies, but Kaul feels that they are more of an exception than a norm.

"In the West, you have big companies run professionally. Some of them are even listed on the stock exchanges. In India, if we manage to acquire even a little of that professionalism, the industry , still in its nascent stage, would start to prosper faster," Kaul said.

Another area that FDCI is looking at tapping, taking a leaf out of the semi-organised entertainment industry, is to attract venture capitalists to the fashion industry

All these proposed initiatives are based on certain assumptions and

convictions --- also validated by KPMG in a study of the fashion industry done for FDCI.

According to the KPMG study, the designer wear fashion industry in India estimated to grow to Rs 10 billion by 2010 from Rs 2,000 million at present. But the designer fashion segment is still a small pie of the overall apparel industry (including the organized and unorganized sector) that is currently estimated to be worth about Rs 300 billion.

Meanwhile, this year's LIFW would see 57 fashion designers participating. But not everybody would get a chance to exhibit his/her creations at fashion shows (five shows held daily) as there is not enough time. About 45 would get a chance to hold shows, while others would have to be contend with having a stall at the exhibition area earmarked for the purpose at Hotel Grand, which seems to have been taken over by LIFW activities.

Apart from the regulars like Rohit Bal, Rina Dhaka, Rathore, there are several first timers too. LIFW event is managed by IMG.

FDCI, which has emerged as an apex body of fashion industry, was formed to represent the interests of fashion designers, nurture the growth of the industry, help develop the needs of the industry, and provide a platform for Indian fashion designers.

The Indian fashion industry, in international terms, is embryonic. Expansion and awareness of the industry in India has leapt multifold in the last ten or twelve years of its existence. As the opportunities for designers grow and develop so will the need for such a council in India.

As a cohesive body, the FDCI will work towards promoting the interests of India as a country, and market the individual designers, creating a support for the fashion industry to enter mainstream fashion.

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