New Delhi: Setting up guidelines that serve as deterrents to plagiarism, pushing for a uniform taxation policy and establishing ethical practices that serve as benchmarks may soon be the norm in what has so far been a disorganized industry, notwithstanding the active lobbying of industry associations like CII and FICCI.
With the setting up of the Indiluxe Retail Council of India, the specialized lifestyle and luxury retail industry comes together to set standards, lobby for its rights, showcase its products to a receptive global audience and set a roadmap that can take it to the next level of growth.
Designed as a not-for-profit trust, the council’s objective, according to Pradeep Hirani, Chairman, Hirani Group and main person behind the initiative, “is to make the fashion industry grow organically as it brings decorum and discipline.” Elitist in its membership, the council will invite members on board and, although it will be open to receiving applications, “applicants will be admitted only after doing a thorough check of their credentials and ensuring that they conform to a set of guidelines which are in the process of being formulated.”
Hirani insists that ethical standards are paramount for the Council and so far the designers who have made the cut include Sailaja Tahiliani of Ensemble, Sanjay Kapoor of Samsaara, Sanjay Shroff of Ffolio, Sangita Kathiwada of Melange, Amit Dholakia of Amara, Gayatri Ruia of Mogra, Kavita Bhartia of Ogaan and Sushil Jhaveri of Fuel.
While the Indiluxe Retail Council will be supported by the Fashion Design Council of India, in the sense that it will undertake collaborative work and synergize efforts of retailers, designers and manufacturers of fashion and luxury, there will, according to Rathi Vinay Jha, Director of FDCI, “be no financial interdependence in the new alliance.”
She adds that the council hopes to be the voice of specialist retail in India. “It will be the ideal forum for the industry to address some of its critical concerns that include protection of creative rights of designers represented by fashion retail stores,” she says
Since legal redress on plagiarism, attrition and poaching are practically unheard of, the council will set up a process that will act as a deterrent. “It will be a moral block, a kind of wall between the unethical designer and the unsuspecting customer”, said Sanjay Shroff of Ffolio.
The coming together of multi-design outlet retailers with a common set of objectives under one umbrella is being considered a significant move at a time when the fashion industry is poised for a giant leap forward. “Thanks to movies, in-your-face branding and higher disposable incomes, the growth of the industry is no longer in the hands of the designers. The push is coming from the consumers and the space for luxury malls, high fashion streets and fashion villages is just the next level of spontaneous growth,” said Amit Dholakia of Amara.
On a recent visit to India, Georgio Armani pointedly asked Pradeep Hirani as to why India does not have a high-end fashion street. He was upbeat not just about himself but other names too, who would make a beeline the moment such a space was created.
Hirani is gung ho as he reinforces India’s advantage, which he insists must be leveraged, even if it were a small part of the international fashion business. “Whether it is embroidery or handicraft, there is no mistaking the fact that Indian designs are being incorporated in most international fashion shows. Who knows, the next Gucci may just be of India origin,” said Hirani in his concluding remark.
Although the council is now focusing purely on the fashion component in the luxury and retail segment, soon it will add categories like jewellery, furniture, luxury leather goods and Indian and international luxury brands in the lifestyle segment.
Goa as luxury fashion hub
The council also sees Goa emerging as a luxury fashion hub in India. The place is ideally suited, given its weekend resort status with upwardly mobile Indians and foreigners making it one of their favourite tourist/ vacation destinations. The reason why this has not happened until now is that Indian designers do not have the resources to wait for, say, three years before profits start rolling in. It is in this context that Indiluxe sees an expanded role for itself. It could bring together a consortium of merchandizers and designers who have a retail presence and who conform to the highest international quality standards.
Globally, retail councils are important for they work towards mobilizing and accelerating industry growth. The formation of Indiluxe — if it is not a flash in the pan kind of initiative — may lead to Indian fashion industry gaining a stronghold in a networked world where competitiveness flourishes but only when backed by credible collaborations and lasting partnerships.