Not mere tailors, Indian designers hit back

New Delhi: Indian fashion is growing and its designers are not mere tailors, say industry experts irked by Manish Arora`s comment that designers here primarily cater to bridal wear. They also believe the Indian market is opening up to couture.

Designers like Ritu Kumar and James Ferreira believe the Indian design industry is ahead of just bridal lines.

"I think we have such a rich textile base in India that even if you look at the designers in India working on textiles alone, you could hardly call them tailors," design veteran Ritu Kumar said.

"I`m also a designer and I work a lot in the field and unit too, it`s nothing to do with the tailoring. I think Manish is going a little out of context. I totally disagree with his words," added Kumar, who has been a part of India`s flourishing fashion fraternity for four decades.

Arora himself flaunts a tattoo which reads `Lady Tailor` and hosted a TV show called ‘Adventures of the Ladies Tailor’. But his comment has raised many eyebrows in the fashion industry.

"We are making what costumers want, so my question to him (Arora) is what is he making and for whom is he doing it?" said Ferreira, who is currently working on his collection in Sri Lanka.

Ferreira, 55, who started his career from retailing in up-market stores in Mumbai and designed for cine stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty, says the country`s upcoming designers are extremely talented.

"I think he (Arora) is talking about the time when he was growing as designer in Mumbai. I believe that young designers are very talented in our country and I find them really challenging. I feel like I am growing and learning with them," he said.

Arora started his journey in the fashion world in 1997 by launching his label Manish Arora. He furthered his presence in the Indian market by introducing his diffusion label ‘Fish Fry’ in 2001.

He is a popular name in the international market, given his catchy, quirky designs in psychedelic colours. Foreign celebrities like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have flaunted his designs, and he was the creative director of French fashion house Paco Rabanne for one year. The contract ended recently.

Indian fashion designers with global presence believe it`s each to his own when it comes to the Indian or international market. The product decides which market a designer caters to.

"It depends on what is your market -- India or abroad? And what`s your product - pret or couture? If you are doing circus clothing and really bizarre stuff, then of course the market is very limited (in India)," said Jattinn Kochhar, who has completed 21 years in the fashion industry.

"I find Indian fashion market huge, it’s very much growing. The only thing is that if you look at the western clothes, may be it is not so large, but our own Indian fashion is huge," said Ritu Kumar.

Apart from the popular, bi-annual Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week, India has witnessed an upsurge in the number of fashion events, with several cities hosting their own weeks as well as niche fashion events every now and them.

Unfortunately, the clarity in the business regarding the couture and pret designers is still hazy. A few couture designers believe major buyers and clients are based abroad, and India is not conducive for couture business.

"There is no clarity among most of the people in the fashion industry. If you look at most of the Indian designers` portfolio, they are either doing resort wear or making lehenga cholis. Now the fact is that you can`t do everything; you have to specialise," said Kochhar.

Ritu Kumar feels adequate number of designers cater to couture in India.

"India`s market is very healthy for couture, and couture in India is perhaps growing very fast, but at the same time there is a huge market for ready-to-wear," she said.