As a designer the question hits me often- to be or not to be at a Fashion week?
Does it bring you business? If yes - Great. If not then what does it bring you?
We did the Lakme Fashion Week at the beginning of the year ( Jan 30th - 3rd Feb 2019 ) and here are the takeaways.
First things first - have a business plan in your head. What this means is, know your costing well, understand what you can offer to stores in terms of mark downs, and if you can, try this - working on a deal that gets you an outright purchase order. (Stores will hate me for offering this piece of advice ).
Have your back end sorted (God knows mine wasn't !). Even if you have great samples you should understand what your production capacity is and while committing to orders you need to clearly communicate the dates by which you can deliver. Thankfully the stores that we dealt with have been extremely patient with us. We missed out on a chunk of business because we could not deliver immediately.
Next up - will you get business?
We did. And so much. Our production was full for the next 8 months so we couldn't do the next fashion week. We have had to move offices so that we could expand our production capacity. That said, our biggest buyer was someone we have been already doing business with for years. There were other stores that were added to the kitty. But the order value for these was relatively low. Stores are spoiled for choice so getting business isn't easy.
Bond, Look, Learn - You get to see so many peoples work. I loved looking at what the other designers were upto. There was immense learning in looking at what they do. The different genres and how they have each evolved in their own way. The different fabrics, techniques, the ways of presentation. So many minds and quite a few had me seriously floored.
It means something to be able to be a part of the finest fashion week in the country. Its a big a deal. Especially in a small town. :)
How many samples to carry?
I carried way too many. I saw a lot of designers carry very few- 20- 30 pcs. Well edited, beautifully curated. We on the other hand carried 70. I think its a better idea to carry one strong line - has better impact.
How should your booth look?
I saw a lot of booths that looked divine, we on the other hand looked pretty bare. Learning - plan how your space must look.
Things that I loved about the Lakme Fashion Week.
The coffee- this tops the list and shows how my priorities are completely derailed.
The space- beautifully done the BKC lawns were converted into such a nifty space. Loved it.
How approachable the Lakme team was. How they sent a detailed buyers list prior to the event. And took care of tiny details. (Laundry - food etc)
The Glam factor - You get to see all the celebs - There was Dipti Nawal for the Anavila show - I love her. And there was Ranveer Singh (Crazy Energy) :). A large part of the Bollywood fraternity arrive there, and its fun to watch !
Catching up with people - I met some really old friends. People from College and other friends from way back. Its nice to suddenly bump into someone you haven't met for a decade and talk about all the trashy things you did back then.
Things that I think they could add:
Better ways to get the design community to fraternise. Like form tiny groups of designers and buyers and have them do a round of introductions. Have a seasoned designer take a younger designer under their wing. Social responsibility. :) Kind of like your first week at college.
Have a platform for the ancillary services a designer needs. If you are running a business like this from a small town ( Sambalpur is an industrial town and its hard to get even basic services for photo shoots and Pr work ) then it will be nice to get exposed to the people who offer the best services. Inclusion is nice.
In conclusion, I don't know if you will get business or not the first time you do it. But do it. It will teach you. It will expose you. It will be good fun.