The fashion industry in India has undergone a facelift. Growing consumer awareness and prosperity, availability of international brands, growth of the organised retail sector, are some of the key factors that have contributed to the growth of the industry. A CII report states that the Indian textile and apparel industry is the second largest manufacturer in the world with an estimated export value of US$34 billion and domestic consumption of US$57 billion. The total Indian consumption of textiles and apparel is estimated at US$57 billion and is expected to reach US$100 billion by 2016 growing at a compounded annual rate ( CAGR) of 12%. India is among the few countries that has a presence across the entire supply chain, from natural and synthetic fibres to finished goods. It has a presence in organised mill sector as well as decentralised sectors like handloom, powerloom, silk, and so on.
Fashion is no longer restricted to a reason or season. "Fashion plays an important role in image building. A new breed of designers are emerging in India who are focusing on developing handlooms, eco-friendly and organic wear, which are environment friendly . The environment is a cause for concern and designers are opting for eco-friendly wear, which are making fashion statements," says Pradyumna Vyas, director, National Institute of Design ( NID), Ahmedabad. The designers are inspired by the Indian tradition and are using it creatively to go global.
For a fashion designer, training and exposure are equally important. "Generally, good institutes provide a hands-on experience to students. They insist that students do an internship. In terms of exposure, both local and foreign exposure, is given to students. We took our students to Hong Kong, where they set up stalls and showcased their talent. Their work was appreciated and they also widened their networking. On completing the course, it may take six months to a year for a student to set up his/her own label but it will also depend on individual drive to achieve what they want. The industry supports talent," says Raju Bhatia, head of department, fashion technology, BD Somani Institute of Art and Fashion Technology, Mumbai. Fashion is a labour-centric industry and there are several job opportunities for students. "Stylist is one area that is emerging. Be it a TV serial or an image makeover, there is a demand for stylists. Besides men's wear, women's wear and kids wear, lingerie has a big market. Also, people who exercise want to wear comfortable clothes and so there's a niche market for gym wear, swim wear and yoga wear," adds Bhatia. According to Nealesh Dalal, managing trustee, JD Educational Trust, Bangalore, students need to work with designers for a hands-on experience. "Students can get into freelance designing, fashion forecasting, visual merchandising, fashion photography, textile designing, among others," he says. A newcomer can expect around Rs 12,000 as a starting salary, depending on the place/company/ expertise, he adds. There are a wide range of specialised courses on offer. Some of the popular courses that students can select from are fashion design, marketing, retail management, apparel manufacturing, garment technology, trend forecasting, among others.
"Fashion illustration and design, textiles, surface development techniques, pattern making and construction forms the core along with fashion studies and history of design and other modules for study," says Sibichan K Mathew, professor, department of fashion management studies (FMS), National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, while elaborating on emerging areas of study.
Fashion trends are short-lived and change every other day. One needs to have passion and perseverance to grow, says Bhatia. Designers in India have the added edge of a strong tradition of arts and crafts, which is inspirational."If a designer wants to make a name globally, s/he should be original and keep updating his/her skills and also experiment. They must use the Indian culture, modify it and go global," advises Vyas.
Creativity, coupled with an understanding of consumer needs, is an essential requirement to succeed in today's business environment. Aspirants are expected to have an appreciation of the elements of design and the ability to illustrate. In fact, many schools have started assessing competence and suggesting appropriate career options. Anything Indian is a fashion statement; hence, there is plenty to choose from.