Lakme, IMG team up for rival Fashion Week to be held in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Looks like there is going to be a Mumbai-Delhi face-off on the India fashion calendar. In a move that could well signal a split down the middle for the Indian fashion industry, cosmetics major Lakme and IMG today announced the launch of Lakme Fashion Week, which will debut on 28 March 2006 in Mumbai.



This "breakaway" event will directly rival the bi-annual affair that was recently announced by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) in association with Shailendra Singh's Percept. It was in September that the FDCI announced it was replacing IMG as the event manager for the highpoint of India's fashion calendar in favour of Percept. It was also announced that the capital Delhi would become the permanent home of the fashion week.



At a media briefing in Mumbai today, Lakme and IMG said they were "looking to create a new event that integrates India into the international fashion community."

Queried by as to the reasons for the decision to part ways with FDCI, Lakme Lever vice president Anil Chopra had this to say. According to Chopra, there were principally two issues that led to the split. One was money and the second was the venue. Said Chopra, "If we were paying x earlier for a three-year title sponsorship, we were being asked to pay 3x for a new agreement which we found an unviable proposition."


Regarding the venue, Chopra said Lakme wanted that the event should rotate between Mumbai and Delhi which was something the FDCI were not agreeable to. Chopra drew the parallel of the Australia Fashion Week where Mercedes is the sponsor and the venues shift between Sydney and Melbourne. In the case of a biannual event, such an arrangement gave a much better brand value than having only one city hosting, Chopra asserted.

While Chopra would not offer any details as to what Lakme was earlier paying for a three-year title sponsorship, industry sources put the figure at between Rs 120 million and Rs 150 million. What was being asked for a new three-year deal was something in the region of Rs 400 million, the sources aver. It could of course be argued that while the earlier dispensation involved only three events, the new one entailed organising six events, therefore the markup in title sponsorship costing.

That is an argument that Lakme has clearly chosen to give the heave-ho to and instead teamed up with IMG to launch its own Fashion Week. The five-day extravaganza will debut on 28 March 2006 at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai. The event will have 20 fashion shows spread over five days, wherein the participating designers will showcase their Pr?t (ready-to-wear) and Diffusion lines.

Indian fashion designers will be invited to showcase their collections at the Lakme Fashion Week before national and international buyers and the media, which will include four representatives each from the US, European and Asia Pacific markets.

Chopra said, "Lakme has displayed a long standing and deep-rooted commitment towards development of the beauty and fashion industry in India. The event will be a platform that will not only showcase Indian talent before an international audience but also an opportunity to globalise Indian fashion. Both IMG and Lakme have created history and set up milestones in formalising the business of fashion. With our knowledge and experience we are positive that this event will be a landmark in the same direction."

As an annual event, Lakme Fashion Week will become a long-term partner for Indian designers to help them grow their domestic and global business, thereby making them internationally recognised ambassadors of Indian fashion.

One clear advantage that Lakme and IMG will have here is that both organisations (along with the FDCI) have been associated with the event from its inception, so they will not be seen as strangers to the game. What would of course be worth watching is whether it becomes a Mumbai designer coterie versus a Delhi designer lobby that will patronise the rival events.

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