Lakme Fashion Week and Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week: Fission in Indian Fashion

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG142
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2000-2006
Organization : FDCI, Lakme Ltd, Wills Lifestyle
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Textile and Garments

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"This (India Fashion Week) is an opportunity to gain global recognition. We have a lot of potential in the fashion sector. If exploited fully it can create a number of jobs and benefit all constituents of the Indian textiles, apparel and fashion industry." 1

- Y C Deveshwar, Chairman, Wills Lifestyle, in February 2006.

"If we were paying x earlier for a three-year title sponsorship, we were being asked to pay 3x for a new agreement, which we found an unviable proposition." 2

- Anil Chopra, Vice President, Lakme Lever Ltd, in November 2005.

Unfashionable Fracas

Two models walking down the catwalk in separate fashion shows at the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), a five day fashion event held in Mumbai, fell victim to what was dubbed as 'wardrobe malfunction'. However, the fashion event was notable for a more important reason. It was the first time that Lakme Lever Ltd (Lakme), a major player in the Indian cosmetics industry and part of Hindustan Lever Ltd. , was organizing the fashion event on its own. In earlier years, Lakme participated in India's 'official' fashion week, the India Fashion Week (IFW), in the role of a title sponsor.

In November 2005, Lakme parted ways with Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the proprietor of the 'official'fashion event, owing to differences over the sponsorship fee and venue for the event. After a few anxious weeks, FDCI found in the ITC group a new title sponsor. The ITC-sponsored event was named 'Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week'(WLIFW), after ITC's fashion retail brand (Refer Exhibit I for more information on Wills Lifestyle) and was organized in Delhi from April 5th to 9th, 2006.

Fashion industry watchers and designers held divergent views on the split. Some felt that the break-up was unfortunate and untimely, coming as it did at a time when IFW was just beginning to make a mark on the global fashion scene.

Others felt that the emergence of another fashion event was welcome and could only benefit the fashion fraternity. India had been, from time immemorial, a major center for textiles. Even in the modern era, many of the country's traditional fabrics and apparels were popular worldwide.

Despite this, the Indian fashion market -both couture and prêt-a-porter - was hugely underdeveloped, as compared to the industry in France, Italy, the US and other industrialized countries. Several factors like the fragmented nature of the industry, lack of branding and marketing skills, etc, contributed to the lackluster state of affairs. However, as of 2006, concerted efforts were being made to corporatize Indian fashion and professionalize the business.

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1] "India Fashion Week to be sponsored by Wills Lifestyle,", February 16, 2006.

2] "Lakme, IMG team up for rival Fashion Week to be held in Mumbai,", November 30, 2005.

3] Hindustan Lever Ltd or HLL, a subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch FMCG major Unilever, is a leading FMCG company in India. It markets tea, coffee, staples, ice-cream, soaps & detergents, etc. It acquired the Lakme brand from the Tata group in 1996.

4] Couture, derived from Old French, means sewing. It refers to the business of designing, making, and selling high-fashion clothing.

5] Prêt-a-porter, French for ready-to-wear.


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