FTV India - time for consolidation

Film fashion, heritage textiles and more designers is what FTV plans to unleash on the Indian viewer this year.

It?s bided its time well. Fashion TV has, since its launch in India in August 2001, faced the wrath of the government machinery and the moral brigade - angst that overshadowed the channel?s real purpose of showcasing fashion and lifestyle. With the clouds clearing in the last few months (I&B minister Sushma Swaraj?s shift to parliamentary affairs may have just been a lucky coincidence), FTV India is now ready to go Indian with a vengeance.

The first step will be to double its existing two hours of India-based programming. Indian programming currently includes more than 100 hours of exclusive India-centric programmes including multi-camera coverage of shows by India?s top designers; group showings by upcoming designers; Designer Speak in which leading designers talk to Fashion TV about their collections, their inspirations; Model Watch, a ready reckoner on some of India?s top fashion faces, which are all aired as part of Fashion India at 10 pm.

But newly appointed programming and creative services head Anita Horam (click here for interview) is clear that while the additional content will be from the region, the format will be kept international. "We prefer short duration clips, heavy on music but less of talk," she says. FTV also plans to take Indian designer content from the ramp shows to exotic locations, that are aesthetically appealing. European viewers are fashion savvy, but Indians, not always. Heritage fashion and textiles will be a major aspect of FTV programming in the form of capsules in the coming days. Horam says the final aim of FTV India is to cover the entire fashion fraternity, not just the designers, but also other fashion professionals, like photographers, hair and make up stylists etc.

Model Maushmi displaying the look designed by Anshu Arora, Deepika Govind and Pria Kataria Puri for the Indian Airlines ground staff

An important aspect of revamped FTV content will be film fashion, which a perceptive Horam has identified as a key influencer of the country?s fashion and lifestyle scene. All this will emerge gradually on the channel by July, along with a changed look with different graphics and packaging, which will be simple, but sophisticated, says Horam.

The on air look is the not the only one that?s changing. The channel (Paris headquartered, that?s known internationally for the F brand in music, clothing, accessories) took a plunge into brand extensions with the launch of the first Asian F Bar and Lounge in Bangalore. The success of the bar (designed for fashion sampling, fashion shows, bringing in international DJs and models) has spurred FTV into thinking about launching similar lounges in metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai this year and even in lesser metros later, depending on the response.

Next month, FTV India will plunge full fledged into promoting the brand among the country?s elite. With the Cleared for take off contest in association with the national domestic carrier Indian Airlines, FTV India will not only promote three designers who are in the fray for revamping the look of IA ground staff, it will also enhance the image of the channel in the eyes of passengers who will vote for the best look among the 12 designs thrown up by the three designers. A scholarship scheme for aspiring designers in association with the UK based Wigan & Leigh institute and Femina Girl is also on, planned with the up and coming fashion designers in the country.

On air too, the channel is sparing no effort to make the Indian presence felt abroad. While FTV business development head Manivel Malone who was in the country recently acknowledged that India ranks among the top three international markets for FTV, along with Russia and China, it took model Tapur Chatterjee to participate in a reality show Model Flat to Paris, and tied up with the Indo Italian Chamber of Commerce for taking model Sheetal Mallar to Milan for a show.

The channel rates itself against GRPs and reach, says Horam, and cities like Kolkata and Hyderabad have emerged as major markets for the channel, which is why the channel recently had a nine designer show in Kolkata, which was well received. Distributed by the Modi Entertainment Network, FTV is seen in an estimated 15 million C&S households in India.

In a never before strategy, the channel will also launch a press campaign, a high end and focused campaign that will not dilute its niche channel image.

The fact that there are no immediate rivals for the channel has helped, though Horam maintains that "our positioning is that of being a fashion insider, and our job is to show as soon as possible whatever is happening on the fashion scene, locally and internationally ? we are not really thinking about competition."

Internationally, more than 500 hours of new programming is aired every year covering over 300 new shows and 600 new clips every season. Programming includes Short Captive Programmes such as Non-Stop Fashion, Style and Parties, 3 mins fashion clips etc, Non-stop fashion programmes such as Brand Clips, International Fashion Weeks, Young Designers, Models etc, and also coverage of Fashion TV events and other special events.

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