This year saw the 25th edition of what is now called the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) in the national capital while Mumbai saw the 15th anniversary of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) – two of the country’s premier style events. But are these fashion week going the way of their foreign counterparts?

"Right now, fashion weeks work for India as it is a new concept for the young Indian fashion industry. But, as the years go by they may lose their charm like it is happening worldwide and there may be a decrease in buyer interest too," Meher Castelino, the country’s first Miss India and now a fashion consultant, told IANS.

"All over the world, fashion weeks are having a tough time surviving. Berlin has lost the biggest event, ‘Bread and Butter’ fashion event and so has Dusseldorf which used to hold the Igedo," she added.

The concept of a fashion week in India, as distinct from stand-alone fashion shows that have been held for long, started in August 2000 as a joint initiative between the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), cosmetics major Lakme and event management agency IMG. They split in 2005 and from the next year, the FDCI event continued in the national capital and the LFW began in Mumbai.

The plus points of LFW are that it serves as a platform for aspiring designers, dedicating an entire category to Gen Next, and has a special Indian Textile Day focussed on promoting the use of traditional handlooms. With Bollywood stars coming to the ramp, it’s also more glamorous.

“LFW has become the perfect platform for Gen-Next or upcoming talent. All bright talent started at LFW — be it Rahul Mishra, Aneeth Arora and a few more,” fashion writer and commentator Jaydeep Ghosh told IANS.

It’s a point to note as AIFW, in its previous avtar, had a Hi5 category for a few editions in the morning and this enabled new designers to showcase their creations on the runway. This category was missing this time.

FDCI president Sunil Sethi said that instead of giving morning slots to new designers, this time they chose to let them showcase in the afternoon, for more visibility.

"We gave names like Amalraj Sengupta, Sahil Kochhar and few others a three-designer show where they could show more clothes rather than restricting themselves to just five to seven clothes,” Sethi told IANS. He said the HI5 category would be revamped in the seasons to come.

"We want to give a chance to players who have not shown with us in the past and whose brand is fairly unknown. They will be new in the trade and are not our members,” he added. Unlike the LFW, where one doesn’t have to be a member of any association to participate, showcasing at the FDCI event is only open to its members.

In its latest edition, the AIFW saw less designers doing runway shows compared to past editions. There was even a lesser Bollywood presence – which was a welcome change as the focus remained on fashion minus the celebrity distractions.

But despite a slowdown in Europe, Sethi says the number of buyers this time was better than expected. 

"This time we beat our 200 mark and had quality buyers," Sethi maintained.

“Browns of London came after a gap of many years. Then there was Selfridges and American buyer Anthropologie who placed orders with 10 to 12 designers. There were five people from Japan, and most importantly our Middle East buyers (came). It was such a healthy trade event,” Sethi added.

Says Ghosh: "Europe is going through economic slowdown and that has made our designers to stop aiming at them."

In terms of designers, while over 100 established and rising designers were participating, only 25 showcased their work on the runway in keeping with the anniversary number. 

A noteworthy factor was the culmination of the works of two creations each of 25 prominent designers for the grand finale, themed ‘Crafts of India’.

"It is better to have less shows and have quality," ace designer Wendell Rodricks told IANS.

To that extent, both fashion weeks have carved out a niche for themselves. And that bodes well for the industry.