Founder of the on-going Mysore Fashion Week Jayanthi Ballal, and participating designers Asif Merchant and Rebecca Dewan, talk about the growth of fashion in tier two cities
Back with its fourth edition, Crocs Mysore Fashion Week will see a host of innovative designers present their exciting collections. Conceptualised and curated by Mysore-based fashion designer Jayanthi Ballal, the three-day fashion extravaganza commenced on Friday.
Talking about the fashion scene in a tier two city like Mysore, Ballal says, “It is still at a nascent stage, despite fashion houses and designer boutiques mushrooming at every nook and corner. These days, with many having access to the internet, you need to prove that you are better than what is available online. Just churning out fancy designs is not sufficient, you need to explain, negotiate and convince the client about the suitability and appeal of the product as the public is well-informed, and everyone wants value for money. You also need oodles of patience and follow the rule that the client is always right.”
The Mysore Fashion Week thus provides a platform for local designers, as well as introduces fashionistas to the latest trends in metro cities. Says Ballal, “As compared to metropolises, it is relatively difficult to start a new venture in tier two cities as people don’t have much exposure and they take time to accept change. You need to give exposure to people for your own good, and someone needs to start it — so why not you?” she says.
Ballal believes that the city is changing its ideology about fashion. This season Raja Pandit, Ramesh Dembla, Reshma Kunhi, Rebecca Dewan, Roshan and Dinendra, Ashok Maanay, Kanchan Sabharwal, Shravan Kumar and Archana Kochar, among others, will be showcasing their latest collections.
“Mysore is known as pensioner’s paradise, people are receptive and value quality. We are getting huge response from clients about the designs which our designers had exhibited in our previous season. Mysoreans are accepting the trending fashion designs from various designers. People become your clients not only because of your stuff but also because of how you treat them and the service offered to them. Every client should be given equal importance irrespective of the magnitude of the order received,” she says.
We speak to two designers about the collections they will be presenting at the event.
In the mood
Mumbai-based fashion designer Asif Merchant’s collection is inspired by the moods and emotions of a human being. He assigns an emotion to a colour which he playfully uses in his outfits. “Quite simply, I have used black for sadness and darkness, and white for purity and happiness. Red represents anger and fuchsia is my go-to colour for ‘mixed feelings’. I have also used gold embellishments throughout my collection, which symbolises the ray of hope that helps all human beings get through life. You can see the transformation of moods on voluminous to structured gowns and tuxedo suits,” describes Merchant. He has experimented with 3D effect of embellishments, metal ornamentation and other detailing on gorgeous fabrics like satin, crepe, tulle, scuba, organza and raw silk.
Talking about the clientèle in tier two cities, he says, “People have strong buying power in tier two cities, but clients from there are a bit conservative and hesitate to be experimental with fashion. I have customised my collection according to their lifestyle and taste. Having said that, I notice that people everywhere have access to the internet and they are aware of fashion and trends on ramps all over the world. So the couture trend in tier two cities is picking up,” says Merchant.
An ode to Paris
Rebecca Dewan’s collection pays tribute to the city of Paris. “The city has always been welcoming for new fashion and it should remain so. I started my brand journey with Chantilly and hence I felt it fitting to feature it in my latest collection. This collection is for the discerning bride who dares to be exceptional, pushes boundaries, and values individuality. Our concept is to let the excellence of the materials speak for itself,” says Dewan.
She has played with evergreen classic, Chantilly, a handmade lace named after the commune in Paris. Titled Belle âme, which means ‘beautiful soul’, the festive pop collection is a manifestation of an intricate web of delicacy and robustness, with the usage of bespoke lace from the crème de la crème of lace makers in Paris who have run family mills for generations. “The classic plait trims will be replicated in froths of feathers in colours plucked from the flecked tweeds. Feathery aigrettes sprouted from shoulders, chemise dresses frosted with subtly beaded Deco motifs, and pleated sheathes of stiff faille and satin will effortlessly drape like a watercourse whirlpool,” describes Dewan.
She claims that the small town Indian market is lucrative because of the increasing brand awareness that characterises most households with burgeoning incomes. “There’s a 40 per cent growth in millionaires in India, and these are not restricted to Delhi and Mumbai. Luxury in the Indian market is closely tied to weddings and other special occasions. Growth in the industry comes primarily from the growing wedding segment in India, where tier two and tier three cities present an opportunity in terms of volumes,” says Dewan.
She believes that consumers are looking to be part of the process. “They are tired of the same mass experience, and are seeking more personal and tailored experiences. They’re seeking brands that replicate their personal values and are thoughtful and considerate of their individual needs and desires,” says Dewan.