Home / Mint-lounge / ‘We need to focus on our young designers’

India needs to invest more on its young fashion designers and find means not only to discover new talent but also to nurture it.

Priya Sachdev, owner of the multi-brand designer store Kitsch in New Delhi and Mumbai, and Anjana Sharma, head of fashion at IMG-Reliance, believe there needs to be an incubator programme for designers. During this period, they could, for instance, intern with leading brands, which would help them learn and grow.

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At the Mint Luxury Conference at the Taj Land’s End hotel in Mumbai on Saturday, Sachdev gave a five-point agenda on how Indian design could take the next step forward.

She said designers need to get connected with businesses assisted by the industry and the government; there needs to be more conferences and design forums like the Fashion Week which would allow exchange of ideas; and an alliance between industry and design schools.

“We have contributed through Indian culture; so many international collections are Indian inspired. Why we don’t make an international impact? We have talent but we have not leveraged it, not married commerce to design," said Sachdev.

“We only focus on going international but why do we look at the West when everyone wants to come here?" asked Sharma.

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She said the main challenges for developing India’s design talent would be education of designers, education of the media and businesses. “Designers at the moment lack internal research and what their USP is. I quote Diane von Furstenberg (fashion designer) in saying they need to identify it, believe in it and stick to it."

Both Sharma and Sachdev were critical of the Indian media, which, they said, focused more on glamour, Bollywood, “celebrities" and not on designers. “The media focuses to apparel, and young upcoming designers, who want to be famous quickly, get influenced. So instead of other arts and design, the focus is mainly on apparel," said Sachdev.

“The show stopper", said Sharma, “should be the garment. Instead, here, it’s the person who wears it. Indian media is keen only to know who is walking for whom."

The two women were also in favour of designers using venture capital funds, addressing the fear that designers have of losing their freedom.

“What they don’t know is they will get complete freedom and VC will only run the commerce part of it. This will help because currently, Indian designers’ biggest challenge is not to be able to focus on design as they also deal with the commerce."

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