The Case of Show Stoppers

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It’s strange. Some believe that films influence fashion. Yet what films do not want is most wanted in fashion.

Yesterday actor Shah Rukh Khan went to meet Raj Thakrey to request him not to stop his show of his film Raees. A couple of months ago Karan Johar did the same for his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Both did not want ‘Show Stoppers.’

The analogy here may be misplaced. But I thought it would be interesting to play with the words ‘Show’ and ‘Stoppers’ to build a case in point that I staunchly believe in… that there should not be any showstoppers at fashion presentations, unless of course it’s a brand-sponsored showing where a designer is showing his/her collection and the brand ambassador makes an appearance. Here the fashion designer of course doesn’t have any say as the dough is put in by the brand concerned.

In normal cases I fail to understand why our fashion designers bring in actors – from A list to C list depending on their capacity to pay them – to their runways while making a collection presentations. I’ve always believed that if the intention is to show what they have made for the runway, and if they are confident that the collections are good enough, there is no need for them to drag these show stoppers to close their shows.

Yes I do understand the strategy. Newspapers today, for reasons I failed to fathom, gasp for movie actors for their pages. No offence to the movie stars here. I state this because every single day, columns after columns, these papers fill the space with the same actors who appear as show stoppers for some fashion designers. Then why such desperations to print the same actor again just because he or she appeared in a fashion designer’s show?

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From a fashion designer’s or his/her PR agent’s point of view, it’s a well thought out strategy. They know some Editors are suckers for such pictures and the moment the designer brings in an actor, regardless of the status, the image will be printed. So, it works well for them. But are such tactics necessary?

It’s okay for an actor to be in the front row especially when he or she is a client or a friend of the fashion designer. This is what happens in such matured markets as New York, London, Milan and Paris. But here it’s just the opposite. Often, some fashion designers bring in a slew of actors and make them walk one after the other. Some bring in one and make her open the show. Most use them to ‘stop’ or ‘close’ shows (so, if the actor hasn’t been there the show would have continued endlessly like a runaway train, I wonder).

Some PR agents often send emails stating that certain actors will be the showstopper for their clients. Some even make it a point to call and tell me the same. And I tell them “So what?” I mean, how does it matter to me who the hell is the showstopper? I don’t even like the idea of a showstopper in the first place!

I feel, fashion designers should drop this idea. I don’t think good designers need showstoppers. I would like their collections tell the tale. Not the actor.

Imagine a day without these dramas on the runway; a day when you don’t see caravans parked outside the show venue; a day when shows starting on time as no-one is doing her last minute touch ups; a day when pure fashion fills the runway and the venue, and most importantly, a day when people come out of the show, they’re talking excitedly about the collection and not how nice the actor looked as he/she walked the runway…

That will be the day.

 

GQ’s fashionable nights

 

Hritik Roshan, arguably the most stylish from Bollywood, at the GQ Fashion Nights
Hritik Roshan, arguably the most stylish from Bollywood, at the GQ Fashion Nights

 

Che Kurrien, the Editor of GQ India, has a clear vision. When he launched the magazine, he made sure it looked and read nice and different. GQ Men of The Year Awards, where every Bolywood star worth his salt scurry to attend — award or no award, society ladies pose at the Red Carpet and men make sure they looked their nattiest best and post the same on Facebook and Instagram, not so much for how they looked, but to make sure the world knew they were at the GQ event. And GQ Fashion Nights, another success story that was launched last year just as hopes for having a well organized men’s fashion event was beginning to whither way. The curtains of its successful second edition were drawn on December 4, 2016.

Way back Lakme Fashion Week devoted a day for menswear shows right in the middle of the event. That I thought was a good thing as every one got to see what our fashion designers were capable of doing for men. A few seasons later they for some reason discontinued it. Then the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) made a successful attempt to launch a men’s fashion week. It ran well for three years but came to a screeching halt a few years ago. Not sure any one tried to jumpstart it, but it never moved forward since then.

Fact is, menswear market in India is fast growing and there are many talented fashion designers making menswear in this country. Agreed, it attracts much more capital investment as compared to womenswear, but takers for menswear – traditional or otherwise — are on the rise. After all, who wouldn’t want a well-tailored suit using best fabrics, a tunic or a bandhgala in their wardrobes? Price it well, and there will be enough customers making a beeline for the same in no time.

Look at it this way. As compared to the ladies here who have plenty of options – traditional, indo-western and western – to choose from for their daily wear, men have just one thing – shirts and trousers… or perhaps jeans and a tees. In India, men wear western to work. Women wear salwar-kameezes, saris and westerns to their offices. Those men who are into formals would always want suits. Those who can afford it go for their Brionis, Zegnas, Canalis and Armanis. Those who want tailor-made ones without having to wait for longer periods opt for Indian designer labels. And those who can’t afford both of these go in for regular off-the-rack brands. Men seldom wear traditional outfits to work.

That aside, pricing is an important thing to be kept in mind here. I have told some of my menswear designer colleagues that regardless of how nicely their creations are made, they ought to keep their prices considerably below that of their western counterparts. This is important as western labels have much more ‘flaunt’ability than that of the local ones. Most customers, even while they keep the quality and fit as the prime requirements while shopping, also keep the ‘label’ factor in their minds. Same the case when it comes to the place where it is manufactured. The ‘Made in Italy’ tag does matter for men’s suits. Keeping this in mind, I feel the pricing needs to be made carefully. If an Armani and a local label is priced the same way, I fear the hand of the customer may move towards the Armani and not the local designer even if both are made using the finest material.

If you look at this from an industry point of view, this is good time even for the male models. All fashion weeks in India, whether it is Mumbai or Delhi or any of the non-descript ones that mushroomed around the country, they all concentrate on womenswear and male models more of less appear as ‘guests’ in some of those. Here, the runway belongs to them and they also have an opportunity to work and earn.

India has talent. And the market for menswear is growing. I am glad GQ has picked up the thread from where it was left and is moving ahead on course with their menswear event. I do hope this will continue for some time and pave the way for an organized designer menswear industry in the country.