The 20th edition of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), which wrapped up in Delhi recently, once again combined the right amount of glitz, glamour and business. Touted as Asia's biggest business fashion extravaganza, the shows at WIFW offered not only glamour, but craftsmanship, embroidery, Indian culture, tradition and drama - all ingredients that make Indian fashion globally popular.
The list of designers who displayed their Spring-Summer 2013 collections on the catwalk was extensive. From Ashish Soni to, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Namrata Joshipura, Wendell Rodricks, Gaurav Gupta, James Ferreira, Manish Malhotra, Suneet Varma to Dutch designers, it was an impressive roster. In fact, over the years WIFW has shifted its focus from being just a runway event to being a ‘business event’, attracting designers and buyers from across the globe. Most participating designers emphasize how it has grown to be a solid platform for networking and business. They claim that their business has increased by over 15 per cent this year, owing to the proper facilities and a single window format made available to buyers at the venue.
As Dutch couturier Jan Taminiau, who participated in the fashion week for the first time, said, “I never imagined fashion week in India to be so huge. It was comparable to bigger cities like Paris and London. I can honestly say India is setting the trend. Many of us Europeans will use embroidery in our works now. I think I am going back with some new design sensibilities that are uniquely Indian.”
Usually, Indian fashion is picked up by the Middle East and Far East (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan). This year, however, buyers came from Europe as well as Latin America. Indian silhouettes, embroidery, fabrics and tribal prints were popular picks. As a first-time European buyer said, “I really liked the mix of designers that the organizers put together. It is so full of India; everything that you have heard of about the country is there. I would say they may have found their identity and character.”
Designer Renu Tandon, who has taken part in many fashion weeks, claimed that “business has never been so good.” She received bulk orders for her embroidered shirts, kaftan dresses and loose silhouettes. “I think we have always been creative, but for the first time we have won the game of perception. We have proved that this is a serious B2B event and the objective of putting together a show or a stall is to generate new business.”
Designer Nida Mahmood was a big hit among European and Middle Eastern buyers. “It was not only a surprise but an indication that the world is becoming receptive to our brand of creativity regarding colours and motifs. And all because we packaged it well,” said Mahmood. Japanese buyer Tomoko, a regular at the fashion event, praised the designers on display. For Nadezda Kuzuvova, a buyer from Russia, this is her fourth visit to the WIFW, and the attraction this time was the creativity of some of the new faces.
The five-day fashion extravaganza saw as many as 132 designers, including international names, participate in the fashion gala. Sethi: “WIFW has always been known for creating landmarks in the fashion world. All the participating designers received accolades for their collections and they are taking orders from buyers from across the globe, including new buyers from countries such as Australia and Japan.”