The Fashion Design Council Of India (FDCI) is ushering in a new era of digital showcase and re-wiring the fashion system. The apex body goes digital as it announced India’s first ever digital fashion week. The announcement teaser went viral on Instagram garnering more than a lakh views.
Sunil Sethi, Chairman, FDCI shares, “The reset button has been pressed as we’ve got to move with the times. We’ve been consistent for over 20 years and we aren’t novices anymore. Having said that, the pandemic has put us in such a predicament now that we can’t organise a physical fashion week like we used to. We are at a disadvantage now. It’s a fact that there’s an uncertainty in the market because of Covid-19 and we don’t know when the curve will be flattened. It’s time to act fast and come up with a plan and a strategy. It might sound cliche but the show must go on. The business of fashion must go on and the business of fashion designers must go on and hence the show must go on. You may call it a show, but for us, it is a way of life where we not only showcase a collection by means of a fashion week, we create a platform where domestic and international buyers place orders. We understand that Indian designers have the capability to go digital. In fact, we started digital showcase with Pero by Aneeth Arora which was streamed live from her showroom at the fashion week, a few years ago. That was the beginning. At FDCI, we are ready to invest in technology to come up with something avant-garde and exceptional. Everything will be done using all the necessary precautions advised by the government and even more.”
However, the dates of the digital fashion week have not been announced. “When we talk of couture week, a letter to all couture designers was sent out, which resulted in a majority of them preferring a latter date. Some have requested for June and July, others have asked for August and the beginning of September. We also can’t afford to miss Spring Summer 21 which takes place in October. We’ve decided the dates, but not announced them. If during that time, Covid-19 crisis continues to loom then we’d delay the plans further. Keeping in mind the fact that the entire world seems to have adopted a wait and watch strategy, we haven’t announced the exact dates. Those will be announced in consultation with designers for couture week. August seems to be the preferred month for most people,” he informs.
When asked if it’ll be physical show or a combination of both, like the neo-real or digi-reality, he says, “Even if we go physical over there, we will work on themes which could be on the lines of a virtual runway or a physi-tal showcase. I’m not tech savvy so it’ll be a combination of all these terms you mentioned. The big bang announcement is that we are going digital for sure and our format is not restricted to one fashion week. With FDCI insights, which we started during the lockdown, we have tasted incredible digital success in terms of views and reach and we will continue with it. Our post announcing the digital property has gone viral and this reaffirms our belief that we must be doing something right. If the industry supports us, we feel we are on the right track. We are sure we’ll be emulated by other platforms in India and internationally. This is also our attempt to support our talent industry which includes models, makeup and hair artists as everyone is feeling the pinch right now,” he adds.
Designer Manish Malhotra shares that couture week is incredibly special to him but since Mumbai is under the lockdown, he needs more time to come up with something spectacular, “I have been one of the first designers to put my work on the social media and I agree that digital is definitely the future. Given the pandemic, taking the virtual reality route makes sense. I applaud FDCI’s efforts to come up with something so progressive. Having said that, I feel that right now fashion needs to be slow and responsible and I have been requesting them not to have it so soon and perhaps do it at the end of August or September,” says Manish.
Designer Suneet Varma, who plans to showcase around 35 pieces, says, “A digital show presented with an of-the-moment technology will reach a much wider audience. In a way, it could be a real win-win for everyone as it will democratise fashion and reach out to more aspirational buyers.”
Designer Rahul Mishra who plans to participate observes that with this first-of-its-kind property, designers will take the art of storytelling to the next level. “It’s not about posting images as we are looking at creating a new language and an immersive experience. Both Mr Sethi and FDCI are very passionate about it and we won’t leave a stone unturned,” says Rahul.
A lot of pre and post production is entailed as FDCI attempts to create a new ecosystem which transforms how fashion is perceived and consumed.
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