NEW YORK — After personally greeting each vendor at the Indian Apparel Show here Monday morning, India’s ambassador to the U.S., Nirupama Rao, discussed how Indian companies are becoming more international and the challenges that involves.
At the Penn Plaza Pavilion to officially kick off this inaugural event, the ambassador took her time touring the show, stopping at every booth to chat with exhibitors and admire their respective designs. After being shown a Gap-tagged toddler’s dress by Tony Uppal, managing director of Pee Empro Exports, Rao said, “Look at the little black dress for a child.” (She looked even more impressed when told the retail price of $36 versus the wholesale one of $6.)
Uppal also clued her into the fact that the cotton dress was just the type of item that used to be automatically produced in China, but no longer. As signs throughout the space indicated, India is an exporting force. India employs 11.2 million workers and has 8,084 apparel exporters. Attendees also caught sight of such other statistics as the fact that apparel exports account for 6 percent of India’s total exports, and the country is the second-largest producer of silk, as well as cotton, in the world.
Rao said, “Our textiles industry is becoming increasingly globalized and connected with the outside world.” And as Indian workmanship and traditions “travel around the world, through that process I think the voice of India is being heard much more powerfully all around,” she said.
As for what the second-most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people is doing to ensure its factory workers are safe, she said, “Our industry operates under the basis of internationally recognized standards. It’s a modern industry. It’s very well networked with the rest of the world and we are very, very aware of safety standards. We rigorously implement them as far as our production is concerned. India industry is at par and fully compliant with all the safety standards that are set.”
So much so that the embassy’s minister of commerce Vinay Kwatra, who accompanied Rao on her tour, said, “People in India talk about ‘buyer audit fatigue.’ ”
The Apparel Export Council’s chairman, Dr. A. Sakthivel, added, “All the big brands, whether you say Tommy Hilfiger [or] Gap, are buying from India now. We have the latest technology designed and everything is [done] under quality control.”
Now that the Development Initiative for Self Reliance and Human Advancement has been in place for about a year, there are 200 factories in compliance and 800 more are expected to be added by the end of the year. The aim is to bolster that figure to 4,000 within the next four years, Sakthivel said.
“There are certificate requirements that are set by the buyers and they are all met by the exporters — from factory safety to labor standards. One of them that is,” Kwatra said.
As she headed for the exit, Rao mentioned she will return to New York Thursday to support Opera Lafayette’s New York production of Félicien David’s “Lalla Roukh,” with costumes by Poonam Bhagat. Rao, who saw the opera’s return to a U.S. stage Saturday at the Kennedy Center, said, “I keep coming to New York when I get the time. I am a big fan of opera. This is a French opera which has not been performed for the last 100 years or more.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast