Sep 15, 2008
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India's rival fashion weeks vie for business

Sep 15, 2008

NEW DELHI, Sept 15, 2008 (AFP) - India's faction-ridden and highly competitive fashion industry is getting ready for four rival fashion weeks this season to showcase the country's talent, designers say.

Since India held its first fashion week eight years ago, event organisers have split into different groups with each trying to outdo each other this year by holding near-simultaneous shows.

The first event, Couture Week, gets underway in Mumbai on Tuesday with the country's veteran designers presenting luxury clothing aimed at the Indian wedding season, when demand for extravagant outfits peaks.

Next month, three other fashion extravaganzas take off in quick succession -- two of them overlapping after the latest split within the Fashion Design Council of India.

"Designers have this crab mentality of trying to pull everyone down," Harmeet Bajaj, fashion director of women's magazine Marie Claire, told AFP.

"With so many events, designers will try their best to outdo each other, but buyers could end up confused."

The build-up to this year's fashion season has seen a series of spats, leaked emails, allegations of financial bungling and even a court case, but rival organisers are putting on a brave face.

"We have set stringent standards for participating designers and except one or two, have all the top names in the industry," said Sumeet Nair, consultant for Delhi Fashion Week, which starts on October 14.

The following day, in the same city, India Fashion Week -- which has billed itself as the country's "biggest fashion trade event" -- will begin.

And on October 20 the Lakme Fashion Week will get underway in the financial hub of Mumbai seeking to "integrate India into the global fashion world and redefine the future of fashion".

India's fashion scene has long been criticised for being big on talk and low on talent, but young designers are gradually making a mark globally.

After roping in rival designers, India's competing shows are now vying for domestic and international buyers, with Delhi Fashion Week alone expecting up to 200 buyers.

"With so many shows happening, a buyer will have many options to choose from," said top designer Ashish Soni.

Others feel the rivalry will hurt business.

"If these people can't get their act together, buyers cannot be expected to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their clothes," said Marie Claire's fashion director Bajaj.

By Parul Gupta

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