The debate over the need for better cooperation between designers and apparel manufacturing companies to pep up fashion brands is an ongoing one. However, increasingly more and more designers now feel that without corporate support fashion brands cannot grow. The Rs 720 crores Indian fashion industry is looking up and designers are looking for corporate backing to boost the designer wear market.
According to a recent Assocham report, Indian designer wear industry is likely to cross Rs 11,000 crores by 2020 at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 40 per cent. At present the industry is valued at about Rs 720 crores. The reasons for growth are: higher disposable incomes, emergence of mall culture, changing sense of style, growing fashion consciousness among urban Indians. Currently, India’s share in the global designer wear market (worth Rs 2.2 lakh crores) is a mere 0.32 per cent, but is likely to reach 1.7 per cent by 2020. And barring a few known names like Satya Paul, Anita Dongre, Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani and Shantanu & Nikhil, who have tasted success by retailing their brands in India, most other designers are still at a nascent stage in retail. And while the industry feels that corporatisation will be a driving factor for designer wear market’s growth, designers opine that it could be possible only with the support of corporate houses.
While there have been efforts in the past with companies like Raymond, Reebok and Adidas associating with designer brands, but their collaboration didn’t last long. In 2003, watchmaker Titan roped in designer Rohit Bal to create a range of luxury watches and Bombay Dyeing roped in Sabyasachi Mukherjee to design an exclusive signature line of bed sheets and towels in 2007. However, the association was just for a few years compared to international collaborations, where partnerships between corporates and designers are a long term affair. In 2010, sportswear and apparel maker Adidas signed a five-year strategic partnership with designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil to launch the S&N Adidas line and according to the designer this gave a sudden exposure to the brand.
Following the international trend, Indian corporate houses should go beyond restricting themselves to sponsoring and backing fashion events, converting the association into long-term partnership so that the designer gets enough exposure and opportunity to create a mark on consumer’s mind.