NEW DELHI — Amazon India Fashion Week, which closed Sunday, showcased 115 designers during its five days of shows.
Now at a new location, the NSIC exhibition grounds in Okhla, the move added to the series of changes started earlier this year when Amazon India stepped in as the main sponsor, replacing brick-and-mortar fashion retailer Wills Lifestyle. The event is organized by the apex body of fashion, the Fashion Design Council of India.
Designers said the location meant braving a longer car ride to reach Okhla, but more space to network and spill over from exhibition booths and the main stage areas, as well as space enough to showcase fashion photography — with an exhibition of noted fashion photographer Prabuddha Dasgupta, They also said that business had been good.
The design message this season was clear: Indian textiles and prints are clearly in vogue with the design community, an interesting switch from the polyester and satin that had long been staples on the runway.
“Our vision is to transform the way India buys and sells fashion and also bring a lot more designers to a larger number of Indian customers,” Mayank Shivam, fashion category leader at Amazon India, told WWD, adding that there had been some strong takeaways from the association with fashion week. “It is about making the entire ecosystem of designerwear more accessible to Indian customers with the fashion week; about bringing more craft to Indian customers, and also about bringing more international trends and analysis.”
The finale on Sunday, titled “Born in Banaras,” kept this spirit as 16 designers each showed three styles. The designers included Abhishek Gupta, Abraham & Thakore, Alpana Neeraj, Anupama Dayal, Arjun Saluja, Ashish N Soni, Atsu, Gauri and Nainika, JJ Valaya, Malini Ramani, Manish Arora, Namrata Joshipura, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi, Rahul Khanna, Sabyasachi and Tarun Tahiliani.
The “Make in India” initiative championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has zeroed in on the city of Banaras, which is known as an ancient seat of textile and design. In the last few months, a collaboration between the fashion industry and the Indian government has snowballed into a project to generate employment, revive the industry and highlight the weavers and craftsmen from the area.
Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India, described the theme of the finale as “reflecting the old-world charm of Banaras on the contemporary canvas.”
“Overall, there’s been much more focus on textiles this season,” said Narendra Kumar, creative director of Amazon India. He pointed to the fact that earlier fashion weeks had a strong focus on embellishments and bling. “But now I’m seeing a lot of designers working with textiles — and rightly so. It reflects the growing confidence by Indian designers in themselves, and in India. It is also a realization of the value of Indian textiles,” he said.
Other trends included a focus on whites and creams; plentiful but tasteful embroideries rather than the customary shimmer and shine, and soft draping around the waist, thighs and ankles. Flowers and prints continued to be popular and the silhouettes were sharper and more daring, with unexpected transparencies and more cleavage.
Although there was a lot of attention paid to the global-local look, saris were more stylish, too, with more structured sari blouses. The sari blouse is a key style component, with longer jackets that are embroidered and full-sleeved, and could just as easily work with jeans, or skirts.
Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango, in the opening show of the week, worked with the revival of mashru, a textile that makes for a challenging weave and has a beautiful finish. But while many focused on reviving traditional textiles, other designers went for the casual and sporty, like Anand Bhushan on Wednesday, who said he was simply sticking with styles he loved. “Customers are ready to experiment, and they recognize and value style,” he said.
There was also the casual playfulness of designers such as Aneeth Arora whose label Péro mixed crochet and khadi, shorts and long jackets, with flowers and checks. The designer also introduced a lounge and comfort clothing line under the “Lazy Pero” label.
Rahul Mishra, who showed last week at the French Embassy in Paris, displayed Indian designers’ sophisticated sides with opulently embroidered, finely structured pieces, as well as his own success — he won the Woolmark Prize in 2013 and now retails around the world.
E-tailers have helped change the mind-set with a focus on designer-driven shopping for the coming wedding season in India. “Designers have access to our 19,000 pin codes and more than 50 percent of the shopping is done from smaller cities,” said Shivam of Amazon. He said the e-tailer was expanding its designer store and had also just launched a Crafted in India store with more than 3,500 items, including apparel and accessories.