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How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser

Career Guide: How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser?

How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser?: Designing is an important aspect of the fashion industry, but it is definitely not the only aspect. A lot of hard work goes into getting the clothes from the manufacturer to the retail shop and finally into the customer’s wardrobe. There are so many things that you can do to be a part of this loop and fashion merchandising is one of them.

This career opportunity is quite rewarding, once you attain the correct training and experience. If you are one of those people who can dedicate themselves to their work and will not shy away from a dose of sheer hard work, fashion merchandising is the perfect path for you. We are going to give you a detailed description of this profession and answer every single question you may have.

Read Also: Fashion Designing & Fashion Technology Courses

How To Become A Fashion Merchandiser?

To become a Fashion Merchandiser, you need creative, motivated, goal-oriented, resourceful and must have good communication skills.

Master the basics to win the game

You need to learn the basics first in order to excel in the profession. Your role is somewhat similar to a forecaster, except you do not study weather changes, but market economy changes.

You need to be able to look at the past performances of the company and the present situation and predict the direction in which your company is heading. Your role involves determining which products will assuredly be profitable and the ones that are an absolute loss.

The Fashion Merchandiser acts like an agent between the manufacturer and the customer, the link that communicates between the two. You need to look over the processes of packaging and marketing the products. It is the only through proper branding and promotion that will shape the success of the product.

Read Also: Career in Fashion Designing

Get skilled up!

We have already discussed the major skills that a Fashion Merchandiser needs to develop. It is on the basis of how many skills you have acquired that you will get your coveted job.

As John Ruskin said once,

Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect, and passion in their operation”

Unless you are passionate about your job, you will not enjoy honing these skills.

There are various talents that a Fashion Merchandiser exhibits, starting from knowledge about the market trends, consumer relationship, and aesthetics of display management to being a financial wizard.

Unless you get yourself aptly skilled up, you most definitely will lose your competitive edge. Always remember that education only makes you sufficient, but skills are what make you efficient.

Real Also: Masters in Fashion Entrepreneurship + PGDFE

Create value through connections

If you want to succeed in the fashion retail industry, you must develop connections in the industry. Knowing too many people never harmed anyone.

It might even surprise you how much you can benefit solely through the relationships you have built with the people you met. Be it store managers or college professors, they might be the reason you get your big break in the industry.

As a Fashion Merchandiser, you need to work on the floor of the retail shops. This enables you to administer full control over all the factors that are in direct contact with the customers.

Since your role as a Fashion Merchandiser involves being the Jack of many trades, you need to have a solid background to help you move forward.

Read Also: BBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship

What Is Fashion Merchandising?

Every industry requires a strategic analyst and a marketing executive, someone who will administer advertising and management. These are the basic responsibilities of Fashion Merchandiser. The promotion of sales is one of the most important aspects of this job.

It is vital to introduce the products at the right time to a suitable market where the target customers frequent. It is the duty of the Fashion Merchandiser to make an analysis of the sales from the previous season and predict the most likely future performance of the company or the store.

They are responsible for the type and quantity of clothes that will be available in the store for the customers to buy. They will need to make strategies on how to sell all the existing stock before the stocks from the new season come in.

It is because of the systematic analytic skills of the Fashion Merchandiser along with their in-depth knowledge about the business that profits are made. Their market study on the type, color, design, and textiles helps the designers to come up with products that will be accepted by the customers.

They work with the designers to ensure that the products are affordable for the target market while making a profit for the whole chain of departments involved in the product from creation to sales.

All the Fashion Merchandisers live by the 5 rights of merchandising to be able to properly satisfy the customers as well as turn a good profit. These 5 R’s include the right merchandise, at the right price, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities.

This enables the Fashion Merchandisers to evaluate the variety of customers that the target market welcomes and their specific needs.

Read Also: Short term Courses in Fashion Designing

Why Become A Fashion Merchandiser?

If you are someone who loves fashion and has a commercial interest in the industry, this is the perfect profession for you. The analytical aspect of running a business in the fashion industry demands a thorough knowledge of the fashion trends coupled with a keen eye for financial details. This profession can give rise to feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment if it is because of your incessant research that fashion designers came up with certain clothing trends.

If you are someone who likes a challenging job, which keeps you ready on your toes at moments of dire need, then being a Fashion Merchandiser will be a good choice for you. One of the best reasons to opt for this career path is because the longer you stay in the industry, the better you get. Your job does not get monotonous since trends in fashion keep on changing.

Read Also: The Best Institute for Fashion Designing

What Is The Typical Work Environment?

The most commonly seen work environments for Fashion Merchandisers are retail stores, children’s clothing stores and sometimes with designers who run their own brands. It also involves traveling to a few fashion shows to remain updated on the latest trends and strategizing ways to make that available for the customers.

There are a number of things that you can do before and after starting the career as a Fashion Merchandiser. Some of these professions you may stumble upon are, sales associate, store manager, customer service representative, visual merchandiser, fabric trend analyst, merchandise director or stylist.

Read Also: Top Fashion Designing Colleges in India

Basic Duties Of A Fashion Merchandiser

There are some duties that are specific to the job of a Fashion Merchandiser which may be targeted daily or weekly or monthly.

  • Obtain regular knowledge about existing and upcoming trends
  • Work with retails managers to arrange visual displays to make them appealing for the customers and increase sales
  • Could be in charge of setting the retail prices for products
  • Analyse financial estimates for the upcoming season
  • Determine the different fashions, clothing, and accessories that should be stocked in a particular store
  • Travel to be in good terms with buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers to encourage cooperation
  • Take to social media to connect with potential customers and understand their needs
  • Maintain strict control over the inventory and regulate budgetary requirements
  • Organize floor plans to accommodate new arrivals and maintain a systematized sales floor

Read Also: What Can You do With a Degree in Fashion Design?

Skills Required

Every profession demands a few special skills from the individuals in order to excel. To become a Fashion Merchandiser, the following are a few skills that you need to master:

  • Fashion awareness at all times
  • A keen eye for details
  • Ability to meet deadlines on time
  • Communication skills to interact well with the whole team and a variety of customers
  • Customer service and feedback to create a strong customer base
  • Prevent losses and gain market share

Read Also: Why Fashion Designing Is A Good Career?

Educational Requirements

After finishing your high-school, you should enroll yourself in a fashion merchandising graduation program, which will lead you straight into this field. If you have already done your graduation in a different stream, you can always attain a diploma degree in the said field.

Although it is vital to have experience in the field rather than just bookish knowledge, it will play to your strengths when acquiring the said hands-on experience. You must learn everything about your job in text and then apply them when gaining experience.

BBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship, PG Diploma in Fashion Entrepreneurship or Masters in Fashion Entrepreneurship will lead you straight into the career path Fashion Merchandising.

These courses will make you proficient in topics like market research and consumer behavior, fundamentals of merchandising, surface ornamentation, retail and brand management, fashion marketing, visual merchandising among others.

You should grab the opportunity to be a part of Industry Internships and get your career started.

Read Also: Part-Time Fashion Designing Courses in Delhi

Starting A Career In Fashion Merchandising

Starting a career requires you to follow a strict process that will not only enrich your knowledge but also help you attain your goal. The following points will guide you through the whole process of becoming a professional Fashion Merchandiser.

  • After pursuing the necessary educational requirements, you need to attain hands-on experience through retail businesses. You can try to get into fashion retail stores in shopping malls, boutiques or a chain of clothing brands. You must learn through everything that you experience, these will help in sharpening your skills for a successful career in fashion merchandising.
  • Internships are a crucial factor in this profession. Try to get an internship from the institute you are studying in or on your own. While interning, you get a close look at what your future awaits you. You can intern as an assistant buyer, sales executive at a retail store or social media internships. You might also get in touch with Fashion Merchandisers and work under them, learn from them and observe what they do closely.
  • Put together a compelling portfolio because this career path is quite competitive. In order to get a competitive edge, your résumé needs to provide potential employers with visual proof of your outstanding abilities, educational excellence, and valuable internships. The fashion merchandising portfolio can include reports based on market research, sample plans for showroom or store floor layout and visual merchandising plans to tip the scales in your favor.
  • Keep an eye out for job openings both online and offline. Make a note of the skills that different employers are demanding, find some in common and gain experience to hone those skills.

Read Also: How To Grow Your Fashion Business Successfully

Know Your Employers

For all aspiring Fashion Merchandisers, it is vital to know your potential employers. You can always choose to be a self-employed freelancer in this field, owning your business, which quite a few fashion designers do. You may work full-time with companies, brands, and retail stores on a contractual basis.

Fashion businesses involved in various fields as production, promotion, designing, clothing, cosmetics, shoes or jewelry require Fashion Merchandisers. Following are a few examples of potential employers whom you need to target:

  • Manufacturers of textiles and fabrics
  • Fashion publication house, both print media and online
  • Advertising agencies who promote designers and retails stores
  • Fashion shows (both production companies and individual shows)
  • National department stores and retails chains
  • Specialty and consignment stores
  • E-commerce stores

Read Also: Some of Our Recruiters

The earnings in this profession vary from one country to another. We are going to explain with the use of US dollars and INR to get across a larger audience. The starting salary in the US as a Fashion Merchandiser is $24,000 (per annum). The higher end of the salary goes up to approximately $68,000 yearly.

In the Indian market, the expecting salary ranges between 1.3-6.4 lakhs, annually at the very start of the career. Although it might seem like an average number, these are always scoped for improving this number with more experience.

As a Fashion Merchandiser, you need to be equally interested in the fashion and business side of the industry. You will need to develop the innate skill of determining which trends will be a great hit among the customers and the ones that will hardly become popular.

This job demands a lot from you which requires learning to multitask without losing your efficiency quotient.

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Victorian Era with an Indian Twist at Asian Designer Week – 2019

Victorian era, a glamorous time period for rich Indian textiles. The fusion of these two far apart poles was the theme of our project this time. The challenge at hand was to bring to life, a garment which was set in the victorian era but fabricated in authentic Indian Textiles. It may seem like an easy thing, in theory, it did to us too, but when it came to practicality, this was the hardest thing about the project.

Victorian-Era-with-an-Indian-Twist

We began our quest with updating our knowledge on everything related to the victorian era fashion: the silhouettes, the fabrics, the colors, all design elements, accessorization, utility wear, etc. The Victorian era was a time of flowy, fluffy ball gown, of lacy parasols, of large, feathery hats, of elegance, of feminity. People of that era had dress codes for specific occasions, there were high societal expectations for women, and to fit those expectations women’s fashion was changed drastically.

Next came our research on Indian textiles, which was an eye-opening experience because we happen to neglect our beautiful collection of textiles every single day. Indian textiles are rich in culture, color, and history of their origins.

Victorian Era 2.jpeg

This collection was to be displayed at the Asian Designer Week 2019, so our deadlines were tight. I personally believe in practical learning, and taking on a challenge to stitch a garment to be displayed in a fashion show, was on my list for long. This time, I was able to successfully take that challenge head-on. After all the approvals in line, and the fabric ready at hand, I drafted patterns for my design with the help of my wonderful faculty always ready to help me. It took me around 4-5 days to completely perfect my garment, and another couple of days to complete my accessorization. I chose to make a parasol on my own as part of my accessorization, along with a waist belt and a ruffled necktie, which completed the whole look.

Our show was scheduled on 6th October 2019 at Hotel A Dot by GNH, ambiance island, Gurugram. We reached the venue around 1 pm the same day, with all our things ready for the show. After a few minor issues backstage, we were able to get our models ready for the display in time, which was a feat in itself, but also a nerve-wracking experience, because that entailed that the show was about to begin.

Our display went wonderfully well, without any mishaps, which made us all let out a breath we didn’t know we were all holding in.

To me, this whole project will always be dear to my heart, because it was an amazing concept, brought to reality by my own hard work, day and night, and I’ll forever cherish it as a student, and furthermore.

Abhilasha Sharma
3rd Semester, BBA FE (2018-2021)

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Style our hair with Twist Knot Headbands

If there’s anything that’s equally important for a perfect picture, a flawless social media look or even a feel-good factor then it’s undoubtedly the way you style your hair. Your hair is the extension of your personality deserves all the time and care required to strike a chord.

velvets

Just like the quality of salt doing so much for the dish and remaining in the background, styling your hair simply with quirky trending accessories helps you bag fawning adorations and adulations.

Twisting your everyday look, the trends that are popping up everywhere and has become “the must-have for all casual affairs” is the knotted headbands, cut out for mastering retro style.

houndstooth

These effortlessly cool bands can be donned with so much ease giving a high style quotient to your overall look. These are cute, hip, and chic and definitely fly for nailing summer attires.

They run in a huge variety from ordinary to extraordinary, from velvets to houndstooth, from polka dots to Sequined Kitsch, leaving us with a plethora of options to explore our styling sensibilities.

polka dot

These fun bands are also very simple DIYs, all you need is any knit/ woven fabric, your basic sewing supplies, a few stitch lines here and there following some simple instructions and adding the final finishing touch with a knot at the end, making this accessory a fashion staple of your style wardrobe.

Peeping in the past tells us, these “full of beans” twisted knot bands have made a huge comeback from the trends of the ’80s. Sundresses, casual denim or even cruise wear, twisted turban bands have worked well with almost everything, making “everyday good hair day” possible even retrospectively.

Kriti Mehta
Fashion Faculty
International College of Fashion

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DELHI TIMES FASHION WEEK

The Delhi Times Fashion Week (DTFW) had a glittering start in the capital on Friday. The three-day fashion extravaganza, powered by Danj Entertainment, had an impressive line-up of designers from the fashion industry showcasing their finest collections. Day 1 was all about festive fashion and had known names like Rina Dhaka, Anupamaa Dayal, Nikhita Tandon and designer duo Anjalee and Arjun Kapoor headlining the event, which is being held at Roseate House, Aerocity. The event began on Friday, 20th September and ended till the 22nd of September. The event also showcased collections by Madame, Cantabil, Charu Parashar, Marks & Spencers etc.

It was an initiative by the Times group and had many other sponsors which include Toni & Guy, Delhi Times, Transworld, Danj and many more. We, as design students got an opportunity to visit the shows on different days in different groups.

delhi-times-fashion-week

We went to the first show on the 20th of September with a group of 10 fellow classmates. While waiting long for the show to start, we saw celebrities like Harsh Khullar and Bandhana Sondhi. As we entered the hall, we got all the fashion vibes as we saw the ramp, dim-lit and all lights, camera, actions ready! We took our allotted seats and in no time, the show started. It was Anupama Dayal’s “Banjaran” collection that was being showcased. The garments were all very bright and colourful yet not blazing to the eye. They were in Indian silhouettes and comprised mostly of lehenga-choli with dupatta and suit-salwar. There was a smart use of fabric and fabrics of different prints were used in contrast-different fabric print and colour for the shirt, sleeve, skirt and dupatta. Gota work was quite prominent in the hemlines of the skirt and dupatta in many outfits. Tassels were hanging around in the dupattas and the blouses along with the braided hair of the models. This was a catchy part of the show as all the models were styled in two braids with colourful tassels and ribbons hanging around their hair to give the banjara look. Models were also seen in nicely draped sarees in red and green with a dangling belt around the waist. Overall, the collection was quite lovely and very traditional and festive. It gives playful and quirky vibes-Indian yet not traditional. One unique and overlooked element of the show was the footwear-all models were wearing same footwears i.e beige jootis with tassels handing round them!

The show ended with the entry of Anupama Dayal on the ramp and all her models following her and dancing around. They all gathered at the front and bent down on their knees, dancing depicting the joy and merry that banjarans have. Anupama wore a yellow saree with a red blouse, almost matching her collection.

We absolutely loved the collection and the show itself! We had many takeaways and learnings from the show and are looking forward for more such opportunities.

Tanisha
BBA FE 2019 -2022

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Startups Get Major Boost In Budget 2019

The government will set-up another TV program on DD, solely for new businesses in the Nation.  Many changes crosswise over work laws, instruction, and rental lodging to directly affect new businesses in the nation.

In a noteworthy lift to a large number of new entrepreneurial ventures in India, the administration declared a large group of motivations to “liberalize the enterprising soul” as expressed by India’s first woman finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.

These incorporate a TV program solely for new businesses, facilitating remote direct speculation rules in startup portions like staple, online business and sustainability conveyance, proposing a large group of upgrades to the advanced installment frameworks biological system that helps new companies guaranteeing new companies don ‘t feel the warmth of heavenly attendant expense from IT experts.

Like the first, the administration will initiate a new TV program on national telecaster Doordarshan, solely for new companies in the nation, which will fill in a stage to match financial speculators with growing new businesses. The TV program will be planned and executed, and be run by start-ups, Sitharaman said.

Aside from this, the administration will help set up around 80 “work business incubators” and 20 technology-based business incubators in FY19-20, which as indicated by Sitharaman will make 75,000 talented business visionaries in horticultural industry divisions.

The finance minister has additionally proposed 100% FDI in insurance-mediators, a category that most new businesses fall in. Aside from this, the legislature has additionally allowed 100% FDI in single-brand retail and proposed expelling the 30% nearby sourcing standards. Experts state that new businesses like Pepperfry, Urban Ladder, Home Lane, Livspsace and other people who operate through the physical stores will likewise be profited by the new recommendations.

Also, Sitharaman declared a few measures to streamline work laws, instruction, and rental lodging clause which will directly affect new companies in the nation. The finance minister also said that work laws will be modernized into a lot of “four work codes” so as to “institutionalize enrollment and recording of profits and loss disputes”.

The ‘Stand up India’ scheme, launched in 2016, to back entrepreneurship in women and the lowered segment of the society, will be more long-drawn-out during the whole extent of 2020-2025, according to the finance minister.

“To further empower the women entrepreneurs, women SHG Interest Subvention Program to be expanded across India,” Sitharaman said while declaring the budget.

New businesses won’t be exposed to any sort of examination in regard to sharing esteem premium. A system is additionally being set up for e-confirmation, Sitharaman said. Indeed, even the valuation of Category II AIF reserves (Real domain reserves, private value reserves (PE assets), and assets for distressed resources are enlisted as Category II exchange venture assets, or AIFs) out of IT investigation, the account minster proposed in her Budget Speech.

Prof. Gulbash Duggal

Associate Dean, ICF

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Fabric – The Heart of Clothing

We, the students of BBA FE 2019-2022 got a chance to visit the fabric outlet on 2nd August. The main idea of the visit was to plant the basic knowledge of fabrics to us since we have just embarked on our journey into the fashion industry. For students who have just stepped into the world of fashion, acquaintance with different kinds of fabric is very significant.  HP Singh is a multi-story fabric outlet with different departments and a huge amount of fabrics on each floor. Initially, we were taken to the silk section where two employees took us through a huge range of fabrics displayed at the shop. We were made to touch and feel different fabrics and gained a lot of knowledge about fabric blending. We looked at fabrics that were pure and others which were polyester – mixed like cotton lawn, organza, viscose, raw silk, satin, crepe and got to know their texture.  Ms. Bharti Mishra, the teacher-in-charge for the visit had an immense amount of knowledge about fabric and guided us along as we went through varied fabric sections. She also explained to us the uses for different kinds of fabrics shown to us and gave value to little details about the fabric.  She had a splendid knowledge about the prices of different fabrics and was inquisitive about the same. We learned how prices vary with different fabrics due to the material used and the kind of techniques used in the making of the fabric. For instance, Cotton viscose being pure was more expensive as compared to the polyester mixed viscose.

After enough displaying of different fabrics and prints, we were taken to the basement where we met Mr. Bakshi, the owner of the outlet.  He introduced to us a whole different variety of plain cotton fabrics which varied in their thickness because of the differences in the thickness of yarns and also, the warp and weft techniques. He laid in front of us various cotton fabrics like cotton voile, poplin, percale, canvas, jacquard, and many others. We learned about different constructions: weaving and knitting. Weaving is done by warp and weft technique and knitting is the interlocking of yarns. We witnessed knitting in fabrics like Croatia, shantley, nylon, cable knit. He made the knowledge of huge amount of fabrics look easy to us by the way he presented them one after one and did not pull back from clearing our doubts and questions.

H P SinghH.P. Singh over the past 40 years has been leading fabric suppliers to a thousand of our customers worldwide.  Located in Nehru Place, they’re literally a one-stop-shop for any kind of fabric that you’re on the prowl for. They are an acclaimed supplier of various types of man-made fabrics, designer drapery fabrics, designer upholstery fabrics, natural fiber and numerous blends of linen with cotton, viscose, elastic, silk, polyester and other blended fiber. They are known in the market for high quality and are likely to meet all your fabric demands.

In a nutshell, our experience of the visit was an interesting and definitely a successful one. We can never have complete expertise in fabrics in just one go but we are now very familiar with them and know a basic inside story into the world of fabrics.  I really look forward to visiting more such shops and enhance my comprehension of different fabrics.

Tanisha Gupta

BBA FE 2019-2022

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A Glimpse of Culture at Crafts Museum

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Urban Lifestyle, Crafts Museum is a place where all this comes to a halt. Crafts Museum is a Governmental Organisation based out of New Delhi, working for the showcasing and promotion of the crafts and textile sector majorly. Worldwide people travel to this place just to experience 1000’s of rich artifacts present here, which really helps them to make a connection with the modern consumer.

So, our College planned a tour for us to experience the whole beauty and collect the maximum possible treasure we can carry with us. We fetched on our autos, collected our tickets and entered one of the four major sections of the museum.

The first section was a really peaceful and serene atmosphere, one can totally smell and feel it like a village. It depicts the culture and art of rural and tribal India. There were many kinds like Kullu Hut, Gond Hut, Banni Hut, Orissa Courtyard, West Bengal Hut and many more. Every Hut was mentioned with a small plate beside them which justifies their origin and the significance of that particular construction. It just made all of us think, how ancient people have been so imaginative, artistic and also technically right without no prior knowledge or I should say academic knowledge. Somehow this is the beauty of our own India, we are so rich in cultures and crafts that knowingly or unknowingly we all are imbibed with some sort of art. There was again some man-made machinery, means of transportation like Gadulia bullock cart used by rural people to serve them on a daily basis.

Now, we knocked into another section of the museum, where artisans from across the country were exhibiting their wares and artifacts. It was on the premises of the museum; these stalls were selling decorative kites which obviously no one would ever like to get them crashed while flying. We had a small talk with almost all exhibitors, they acknowledged us with the information that what is it which is actually making them stand out of the crowd. Kite sellers were based out of Etawah, Uttar Pradesh and were ready to claim that they are the only manufacturer of such kites, which are so finely constructed and that too in some other shapes as well. Besides this, there were some contemporary arts, fancy diaries which we would like to keep till decades, deeply thoughtful bookmarks, cards, and paintings. Paintings were basically Madubhani Paintings, craftsperson shared the whole story with us from raw material to the product, the average time required to paint for one huge painting, about his costing, from where he is managing to get this whole stuff and of course his passion for the one. Next, we have handcrafted Juttis, Fabrics with absorbing prints and embroideries, Trendy accessories; I got purchased one for me being a true fan of accessories. Lastly, we enjoyed making some hyper-creative pottery stuff with aesthetic Rajasthani music which was anyway cherry on the cake.

Another section, we entered had some real tastes of ancient jewelry, paintings, ancient lamps, utensils, range of cane and bamboo arts, clay and terracotta figures and lot more which were speaking out loud about their origins, significance and some quality facts about them. It was an amazing experience to go to each and every window, clicking its picture and fanaticizing about what story I can re-create with all these ancient ones.

Last, section which was centred on a huge carrier of ancient times was solely devoted to the whole lot of textiles of India.  Entry was beautifully decorated with so many colourful fabrics, natural dyes sample and their sources. Also, I got my hands on the screen which was installed exactly in front of the entrance. The purpose of this screen was to enlighten you with the idea of different type of fabrics and which part of India is majorly producing it. I am sure it was one of the good information to absorb. Okay, so now we got to see diverse fabrics region wise like silk, cotton, check silk, brocades and what not. Different embroideries as well namely Zari, Phulkari, Kashmiri, Kantha, Chikankari and many more. There were some visually stimulating garments also hanged in the windows again specifying their region. After taking up a glance at this section, I felt like if an Artisan is promoted, Patola would find another generation, Kutch embroidery would be a Christian Dior adornment, Benarsi Zari work would go for Oscar’s red carpet, Kantha would embellish Gucci Trench Coat, Jawaja would have Jimmy Choo finesse and artisan will find motivation for life.

All over it was gratifying experience for all of us.  Lot to learn and even more to come that’s what I can say to wrap it up.

 

Shradha Jain

MBA FE 2019-2021

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Internship opportunity with Fascino Kids Fashion Week 2019

Right from our very first day at ICF, we have been gaining experiences in the fashion world and this July got us one very exciting one.

An opportunity to work at the Fascino Kids Fashion Show, an exclusive Fashion Week for children between 3-14 years of age, with a series of interactive workshops leading the participating children with sessions on Personal Hygiene, Etiquettes, Personality Grooming putting forward a holistic, confident personalities on the ramp.

fascino kids

This was an exciting opportunity for me and my other enthusiastic lot of friends since none of us had ever had the experience of handling these little bundles of energies. Glad we all enrolled ourselves for this and were prepared to take this new challenge head-on.

The show was scheduled from 25th-27th of July 2019 and was held at Eros International, Nehru Place.

We were involved from day one….from the trials to training and practice days for the child models and handling schedules for all the participating designers.

Time management was one of the major factors that we needed to learn and report to work an hour early than the kids’ schedule since all the arrangements for the day were to be organized and put in place to avoid any delay or glitch during the sessions.

We were about to be hit with a real challenge of handling small kids throughout the day while helping the Organizers. The kids started to pour in and some of them came in “like a wrecking ball”. Some of the kids were not ready to leave their parents at all and kept wailing and crying. That was truly a challenge, to get them separated from their mothers, get them changed and make them practice along with everyone else. But we were not there to give up easily. All through the days this cycle continued, designer after designer, kid after kid, and we would generally wrap up the day around at about 9 in the night right after a short meeting with our team heads….just to repeat the whole process every day for the next couple of days; but the second day was less chaotic, thanks to our experiences gained the day before.

Then came the big day, the actual show on Saturday the 27th of July, 2019. We all reported at the venue sharp at 8 am, dressed and ready to work in our Fascino Kids Fashion Show custom t-shirts, that gave us the sense of responsibility to shoulder the brand we were working for.

We began readying up the first lot of kids for our first scheduled show at 11:00 a.m., which was actually delayed by an hour due to technical issues, but hiccups like this are common in such fashion events. With each show, our work gradually got easier, and we had a smooth functioning through the fashion shows……. till the finale show……That was when chaos broke. We ran out of hands to help backstage, and 3 people barely kept the kids in control, but with immense help from one of the team heads, we were able to deliver an amazing finale of the day that was widely appreciated and adored.

The after-party to celebrate the success of the show had us all as a team had us all danced and celebrate the successful line of shows the whole day, and we all retired to our homes in groups and pieces, to finally rest our feet which had been working on and on through the week.

Even though the whole experience was tiring and we ran out of energy to function by the time we got to leave, it was all worth it when we received our certifications when we rejoined college.

We were also awarded a beaming trophy to represent all the hard work we all collectively put in, and it was truly an amazing moment to be able to hold it in our hands.

The trophy now rests in the office of our Chief Mentor, Ms. Jaivani Bajaj’s office, as a beautiful memory of something so demanding and challenging yet so rewarding and full of knowledge.

This was an experience gained, that will forever be with us all.

Abhilasha Sharma- BBA FE 2018

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A WARM WELCOME TO ICF

Oof! With a mix of thoughts and high spirits I carried the load of my pretty bag and started my day with a classic smile. I rushed through the metro and headed straight to the college. As I moved towards my class, probably every new face I saw could hear me breathe heavily. I entered the class, greeted my new mates and took a seat to catch my breath. Within a moment, my teachers came in with a big smile and I could sense a lovely vibe of aspiring learners ready to embark on this new journey. The teachers introduced themselves and their respective subjects to us in a very semi-formal way. It was way better than I expected it to be. I enjoyed their session as they gave us an inside sneak peak of the industry we were going to step into.

Then arrived the snack break and we were served with some authentic Delhi street food alongside some soft drinks to fill in our young stomachs.

The seniors came in and initiated an ice breaker activity to help us interact and perhaps improve our social skills. We enjoyed playing different character roles, singing, dancing and mimicking comic characters.

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The college organized a few designer talks for us to get pumped up with inspiration and zing to work hard and brace ourselves for the course. The teachers seemed so determined and energetic to impart their knowledge to us. This gave me a feeling of satisfaction and that very moment I knew I came to the right place to learn. Down the week, the college had many activities for us. This helped us to get more comfortable with the college atmosphere.

Alumni students dropped in to share their experiences with us and we got a chance to clear out our doubts regarding different job/business aspects after college. The exposure we had in the first week was outstanding. We got exposed to the people from the industry and got to clear view of the life ahead waiting for us.

To be honest, in the beginning, I was a bit apprehensive about college life at ICF. But now, after 3 weeks I can proudly say I am at the right place. This place is a metal and it means education at its best. The teachers are hardcore and willing to give the best they’ve got. I hope to experience a wonderful educational journey with ICF along with memories to cherish throughout my life.

Moin Shaw BBA 2019 – 2022

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The Pret Imperative

I became the head (Executive Director) of the FDCI, now nearly a decade ago. Our office was in an apartment in Saket, a common practice at that time. To reach the office on the second floor, we had to walk up the stairs and jump over a sleeping dog known for being aggressive when provoked. As I took up the onerous reins of the fashion industry in India, I realized that much like the dog, the gross artistic talent of Indian designers was immense but the fashion design industry was still in its infancy and had made a little impact at home in India, much less the World. Coupled with the rich Indian heritage and culture we should have been talking of a major industry. In reality, designers were living from hand-to-mouth and quite literally operating from their father-in-law’s house!

This is when I commissioned research through the well-known consultants KPMG to study the level of the current industry and also to benchmark the West where billion-dollar brands such as Giorgio Armani, Versace, etc. all mocked us. Surprisingly, my initiative did not find sympathetic support from the FDCI Board which, unfortunately, consisted entirely of designers who were sure they knew it all. The results of the study, however, were seminal.

In the West, the industry started at the top of the design totem with couture (exclusively one of a kind) remaining exclusive and relatively small. It did make a handful of designers personally rich but as an industry, it was nowhere, and it was extremely risky for investors. The industry grew as designers moved down the chain to diffusion – multiple but limited lines which were sold in studios with, most often, the designer himself in attendance. The real breakthrough came when a few enterprising designers pushed to move into pret-e-porter (ready-to-wear) available off the shelf and at affordable, even if premium, prices to a vast upper-middle-class!

The move to Pret was not easy.  Designers quickly realized that Pret required large numbers to make business sense. This required efficient factories, distribution to a large number of stores, marketing, etc. This was usually beyond the competence of designers and was also beyond their interest areas. This is the classic clash in a fashion business – how to mate the vagaries and subtleties of art with the heat and dust of a competitive marketplace. The solution, of course, was the partnership of the high-flying designer with down-earth businessmen. The partnership could be in the form of a joint venture with a corporate which could bring in finances and skilled managerial support. That is how the West got into the big leagues.

Unfortunately, we in India faced many hurdles on many sides. At the FDCI, to promote Pret, we instructed all participating designers to show only Pret collections at the India Fashion Week. However, this was easier said than done as designers still displayed what they were most comfortable with – couture! Those who did venture forth most often came up with watered-down lines of their couture lines or worse still, Western wear! We could see that Indian fashion had a long way to go to mature. Customers were also in a time warp where they valued the weight of the garment, the amount of embroidery or surface work done and hesitant to move beyond drapes.

On the creative side, designers had to learn, to their dismay, that pret is not a mini version of their couture collections with, say, a little less embroidery but required a fresh new approach and a totally new collection.

The other challenge at the FDCI was to get investors and corporates to partner Indian designers. The trouble was both ways – with designers and with Indian corporates.  From the FDCI we extolled Indian designers, but businessmen found it difficult to relate to persons who ‘got up only after 11 o’clock’, did not care much about business civilities and wanted to be treated as prima donna’s! On the other hand, designers could not accept that the corporates valued their business to just a simple multiple of one year’s sales rather than the hundreds of crores they thought they were really worth. Further, they found it unthinkable to sell their label, which was usually their own personal name, to an alien entity and risk the possibility of losing it entirely. The result was that potential corporates such as Raymond, who even launched a Designerwear chain called BE:, baulked from backing any designers. Instead, when expansion was called for, they preferred to buy out premium, mass brands which in the case of Raymond was Color Plus. It finally devolved on foreign businesses such as LVMH, who better understood the dynamics of fashion, to invest into Indian designers.

Luckily, the new breed of Indian designers, having much less baggage of yesteryears, is far more business savvy and are able to quickly appreciate business complexities. However, Indian corporates are still tardy at making investments in Indian designers as they are still uncomfortable with the risks of the industry and still face a less than robust retail infrastructure. The saving grace has been the VC’s and other foreign investors who have made that move. Today there are a handful of Indian designers who have made it close to the Rs 100 cr. annual turnover. This includes the like of Rohit Bal, Ritu Kumar, Sabyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra and Anita Dongre. Of particular pride for us is Anita Dongre, whose pret labels and retail chains, Indo-western styled Global Desi (138 retail stores) and  Western-styled AND (125 retail stores) together with other labels add up to a solid Rs 725 cr per annum.

Although having less flourish or creativity than her brethren, Anita’s Dongre’s phenomenal success has been due to a relentless focus on Pret, sharing the business end of the stage with her MBA brother, Sawlani and the VC’s who put up the money. This is just a tip of the iceberg of what Indian fashion can do when everything falls in place. To be sure, there is still a long way to go but now the glass ceiling for Indian designers has been broken!

Vinod Kaul

Jt. Managing Director, ICoFP

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