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Go Indian to go global, fashion editor tells Indian designers


New Delhi : Indian designers need to focus more on the country’s heritage if they are to make a mark internationally, says eminent fashion journalist Suzy Menkes.

“You have a magnificent heritage. Why don’t Indian designers have more confidence in their heritage?” Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune (IHT), wondered while addressing a press conference here.

Menkes is here for the two-day IHT conference on sustainable luxury Wednesday-Thursday.

The conference was to have been held last December but was postponed in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The annual conference was started in 2001 “because we felt the need to bring people in the industry together”, explained IHT publisher Stephen Dunbar-Johnson.

Menkes, who has been writing on fashion for the last 35 years, also felt that Indian designers could gain tremendously by teaming up with the country’s artisans and craftspersons.

“The Made in India label has a resonance to it when linked to traditional Indian crafts. We have to find areas in which a sense of crafts and luxury can be tied up,” she maintained.

“That’s the way to go global. One step at a time.”

She also depreciated the tendency of Indian designers to focus on Western silhouettes instead of the home grown ones.

“What many are doing amounts to a click, cut and paste on the computer. It doesn’t work,” she maintained.

Answering a question on the theme of the conference in times of recession, Menkes sounded extremely upbeat.

“Luxury is always finding new lands to conquer. There was China, there was Russia, and now there is India and Turkey. India is an emerging market but with tremendous potential,” she explained.

What about the recession?

“As along as the world goes round and round, people will love luxury goods. Luxury doesn’t mean vulgarity. Luxury means saving money to buy an object of desire. So, the market will always be there.”

At the bottom line, what is luxury all about?

In Menkes’ view: “It’s about earning money not only to eat and buy other essentials but to buy an object that you don’t necessarily need but greatly desire. Luxury is about a mother buying for her daughter something she didn’t herself possess.”

The conference has a crowded agenda with a host of Indian and international experts discussing issues like “Sustainable Luxury: Surviving Turbulent Times and Putting Green on the Agenda”, “Made for Maharajas: Indian Princes and Western Luxury Brands”, “Building a global Indian Designer Brand”, “Responsibility=Modernity” and “Understanding the Affluent Indian Consumer”.

Among those scheduled to speak at the conference are international designers Roberto Cavalli and Stella McCartney and their Indian counterparts Manish Arora and Sabyasachi Mukherjee.