Jaspreet Chandok: Lest Fashion Becomes Weak

Jaspreet Chandok: Lest Fashion Becomes Weak

Jaspreet Chandok, head of lifestyle businesses at IMG Reliance on the new nature and nurture of the upcoming edition of Lakmé Fashion Week

On May 28, Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) announced the Virtual Showroom, a first of its kind marketplace in India for designers and artisans to display their past and current collections. The platform will feature product catalogues with pricing, giving consumers the option to place direct orders with designers. This was to enable the sale of stocks piled up during the pandemic lockdown, and the enablement comes without any business fee. “With the Virtual Showroom, there’s hope for the fashion world to continue as best as it can and adapt in new ways that may provide better solutions,” Jaspreet Chandok, head of lifestyle businesses at IMG Reliance said as part of the press release.

However, the industry is still waiting for clarity on the exact nature of the next physical edition of LFW, usually held in August. Newer technologies of creating, fitting, choreography, styling, showing and selling are still being debated across the designer fraternity. While the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) announced the July 2020 edition of its India Couture Week as a digital event, fashion weeks across the world continue to regroup backstage about when to walk down the real runway and how.

The first digital edition of London Fashion Week (June 12-14) has made good of what was, so far being called “the future of fashion.” Would Mumbai’s LFW replicate that model?


Models present creations by designer Kunal Rawal at an outdoor show during Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) Summer/Resort 2020.

Chandok, who can be unexpectedly monosyllabic when asked about business (but is otherwise a happy conversationalist), spoke to TVOF on the planning and architecture of LFW’s next edition scheduled “sometime in October”.

Edited excerpts from an email exchange.

One of the biggest fears for the fashion industry is the loss of sponsors—title sponsor as well as other associate sponsors. Is there a clear update from LFW on this issue?

Luckily, for LFW, most of our sponsors have been with us for a long time and find true intrinsic value with the property. Most of them have also reaffirmed commitment towards it, so we are confident that we will be able to continue without significant disruption from a monetary perspective. The other strength of LFW is that it is a partnership between Lakmé and IMG-Reliance, both of who remain committed to the fashion industry.

Can fashion weeks be possible without sponsors in the future?

Unfortunately, the Indian fashion industry has not yet developed enough to sustain a fashion week without sponsorships. Even today, 85 per cent of fashion week costs are funded by sponsors, unlike globally where sponsorship revenue makes up about 30 per cent of fashion week costs.


Makeup artists and models backstage at work during Lakmé Fashion Week.

There has been an ongoing if inconsistent work on “fashion funds” and how much fashion week bodies should do for designers struggling to survive. However, should a fashion week platform be generating funds?

We supported the FDCI in the COVID-19 Support Fund for designers because we absolutely feel it is the prerogative of a designer body like FDCI to take the lead in that support instrument. We have focused our efforts in development of tools that will aid designer businesses in the future like the Virtual Showroom.

With the shrinking of Indian fashion business given its discretionary nature, how will the representation of different design DNAs, brand positioning and ideas showcased at LFW change?

There will be a Darwinian shakeout across industries, with the fashion industry suffering more than some other industries. We expect store and business closures to be about 20 per cent of the entire market within the next year. As consumer preferences also shift towards essentials, the luxury industry may be further hampered. As a fashion week, we are happy to provide the platform to the industry for however they want to use it. We see programming being more fluid and less restrictive in fashion weeks so that enablement can be greater.

Since LFW has been promoting sustainability, would it pragmatic to have a season-less fashion week in the upcoming edition, or perhaps encourage designers only to show from their piled up inventories?

I believe most fashion weeks will move to a season-less concept in the near term and LFW will create modules to enable this. In fact, we are close to finalising a support programme with an e-commerce partner for liquidation of piled up inventories as we speak.


A model walks the runway for Shades of India at LFW Summer/Resort 2020.

Will digital fashion weeks make certain talents like scenographers, photographers, set builders, production designers and assistants redundant?

Like nearly any industry, professional workers will be underused in the coming year. We do foresee a quick resurgence once the pandemic is over, with enough work returning for the top talents in their fields.

Regardless of the pandemic, there were conversations on pruning fashion weeks with better-edited collections and cutting down the number of total days. Do you think the current conditions will lead to that much needed editing?

While there may be short-term measures in place, we are quite happy with the curation of the LFW in its current form. As a principle, we remain committed to our focus towards showcasing young designers and the crafts sector. These collections may sometimes be hit or miss but we feel it important for the growth of the industry.

Is it time for a unified fashion week in India to save and economise on time, money, sponsors, resources and capitalise on business?