As Europe's fashion giants brace for what could be the toughest leg of their expansion in China, a South African retail tycoon has launched a bold assault on the worlds most populous nation.
Christo Wiese is promising to open 500 of his New Look stores in just three years, catapulting the British brand into the same league in China as the world's top fashion chains - Spain's Inditex and Sweden's H&M .
His plan is to make most of the clothes in China to ensure they cater to local tastes and can get to stores quickly - a strategy similar to the one successfully pursued in Europe by Zara-owner Inditex.
The arrival of New Look - and its local sourcing strategy - poses a new risk for the likes of H&M and Inditex, already suffering from slower growth in China, fierce competition for real estate and the cost of investing in ecommerce.
H&M is opening more stores in China this year than anywhere else in the world and the country is already the second biggest market for Inditex outside Spain.
China is a big draw for retailers who hope to tap the aspirations of a fast-growing middle class, with mid-range names benefiting as consumers trade down from luxury brands since Beijing's clampdown on corruption and conspicuous spending.
But recent history offers plenty of examples of failure. Western brands that have struggled in China include Gap Inc , Abercrombie & Fitch and Marks and Spencer , which decided last year to close five stores in smaller cities to focus on flagship stores in large cities and online.
"Most of the Western fashion labels that are mid-range fail in China. A large part of it is that the styles and the fit are so completely different," said Shaun Rein, founder of market intelligence firm China Market Research.
LOCAL TASTES, LOCAL SOURCING
New Look, a chain founded in 1969 and bought last year by Wiese's investment vehicle Brait SE , does not want to make the same mistake. It now runs 94 stores in China, out of a global total of 852, and hopes to have up to 150 by next March.
"I will definitely give it a try if it is a foreign brand and as long as I like it," said Chen Jie, a 32-year-old businessman from Shenzhen who was carrying an H&M bag in a shopping district in Hong Kong. "Price is not an issue but the design and quality must be good."
While New Look is cashing in on the popularity in China of British style - it is adding the "London" tag to its logo for its Chinese stores and website - it is also catering for local tastes.
Sven Gaede, managing director of New Look's international business, says the firm has an advantage over many European rivals as 85 percent of what it sells in China is sourced locally and more than a third is designed exclusively for China.
That has allowed New Look to tap into the current popularity in Asia of culottes - flared, three-quarter length trousers. Gaede said they account for 12 percent of the firm's sales in China, though they are not popular in its European markets.
"South Korea and Japan drive a lot of the trends that the Chinese customer seeks, so our ability to be able to identify those trends, source them locally and get them into our stores quickly is key," said Gaede.
That helps explain the success of the Uniqlo chain of Japan's Fast Retailing <9983.T> in China, which already has almost 500 stores in the country and is aiming for 1,000 stores in about five years - more than in Japan.
"It's pretty hard for the foreign fast brands to do the localization that Uniqlo does in China as it was born with the Asian gene," said Violet Shen, a marketing executive in Shanghai.
The "fast fashion" model was pioneered by Inditex, which can bring new styles from the catwalk to stores in Europe within days from factories mostly in Spain and North Africa. However, Inditex does not have the same advantage in China.
Inditex plans to add 60 stores in the next few years to the 582 it already runs in China, but it serves them from its logistics centers in Spain.
"As their proportion of sales increases in the East, it challenges this model. You can't hub out of Spain," said Dominic Jephcott, chief executive of supply chain experts Vendigital.
New Look is not the first Western retailer to try to bring the Inditex model to China.
Denmark's Bestseller, which runs brands like Vero Moda and Jack & Jones, says over 90 percent of its products sold in China are also produced in China and most of the designs for the Chinese market are adjusted to local tastes.
That has helped the family-owned firm to become the clear leader in China, with more than 6,800 stores in over 300 cities, to give it a 2 percent share of the fragmented market, according to market research firm Euromonitor.
Anders Kristiansen ran the China business of Bestseller before taking over as New Look chief executive in 2013. Gaede said Kristiansen's experience in Asia is one of the reasons behind the group's aggressive expansion strategy.
H&M also buys many of its garments in China - the country accounts for about a quarter of its global sourcing.
But the Swedish firm does not make a big point of adjusting its ranges for China, where it has opened 47 stores in the last nine months, taking its total to 400.
"We see that fashion becomes more and more global and that China doesn't differ much from the rest of the world regarding trends and fashion," said investor relations head Nils Vinge.
"There are of course local differences but that is true for every market. H&M has a business model that can adapt to this," Vinge said, declining to elaborate.
Rein of China Market Research says Western brands must strike a delicate balance.
"You have to keep your global brand image and you can't be that creatively different in China than other markets. The Chinese travel around the world," he said. "It is good to localize. But it hard to localize an aspiration."
STORES VS ECOMMERCE
A bigger challenge for New Look may be to secure the right locations, especially as rivals also seek to add hundreds of stores in the coming years.
"To find 500 stores of real estate and roll that out in the right way ... I think it is virtually impossible," said Franklin Yao, managing partner at strategy consultants Smith Street.
But the more established New Look's brand becomes in China, Gaede said, the better the locations and terms it will be offered, adding that the firm was now pushing into smaller cities.
"We are less wedded to the number each year and we are more wedded to getting quality locations," he said.
Meeting soaring Chinese demand for buying clothes online is also tough.
Most international brands initially launch on Chinese ecommerce sites like JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao, but are keen to build up their own online operations to protect margins and integrate ecommerce and store services.
New Look is currently available on Tmall and JD.com, but plans its own transactional site in the next 12 to 18 months.
Partnering with Chinese sites and local payment and delivery service providers is essential to reach consumers across such a vast country, said Vendigital's Jephcott.
"It is a hard physical push and a very hard digital push, all premised on a strong relationship with the logistics partner like Taobao," Jephcott said, noting that Taobao has established a delivery network of micro-stores even in small towns.
Ralph Lauren, Kardashian's DASH Slapped with Civil Rights Lawsuits
Ralph Lauren, Payless Shoes, and the Kardashian’s store, DASH, have each been slapped with separate civil rights lawsuits, claiming that they have violated (and continue to violate) a federal civil rights statue in connection with their websites. According to Andres Gomez’s lawsuits – which were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a federal court in Miami, and cite violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12181) (“ADA”) – the defendants “denied visually impaired plaintiff [Andres Gomez] from having full and equal access to their website[s] due to their failure to have screen reader software on it.”
In his lawsuits, Gomez claims that he “suffers from macular atrophy, refraction amblyopia, vitreous detachment, and high myopia. As a result, [he] is visually impaired and unable to fully engage in and enjoy the major life activity of seeing … He frequently utilizes the internet. He is unable to read computer materials and/or access and comprehend internet website information without software specially designed for the visually impaired. Specifically, [he] utilizes the JAWS Screen Reader software, which is one of the most popular reader Screen Reader Software utilized worldwide.”
For the uninitiated, the ADA gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities similar to that provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. The ADA defines a disabled individual as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment.
According to Gomez’s complaints, each of the defendants – Ralph Lauren, Payless Shoes, and DASH – “own, leases, leases to, or operates a place of public accommodation as defined by the ADA” and maintains websites that “is complementary and supplemental to, the above-referenced public accommodation.” As a result, their websites are governed by the ADA, in particular, 42 U.S.C. Section 12182(a), which provides: "No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation." That section further states: “It shall be discriminatory to subject an individual … on the basis of a disability or disabilities … to a denial of the opportunity of the individual or class to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of an entity."
In short: Gomez alleges that by failing to equip their websites with screen reader software to enable visually impaired individuals to “enjoy full and equal access to the website and/or understanding the content therein,” the defendants are in violation of the ADA.
As a result of the defendants’ failure to properly format their sites to abide by the tenants set forth by the ADA, Gomez claims that he “has suffered, and continues to suffer, frustration and humiliation as the result of the discriminatory conditions present at [the defendants’] websites. By continuing to operate its website with discriminatory conditions, [the defendants] contribute to [his] sense of isolation and segregation and deprives [him] the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges and/or accommodations available to the general public.” He further asserts that he “has suffered and will continue to suffer direct and indirect injury as a result of the [defendants’] discrimination until the [defendants] are compelled to comply with the requirements of the ADA.”
Gomez has asked that the court order each of the defendants to “continually update and maintain [their] websites to ensure that they remain fully accessible to and usable by visually impaired individuals.” He is also seeking monetary damages.
Over the past year and a half, Gomez has filed nearly identical lawsuits against H&M, Lacoste, Jo Malone, Coach, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Wet Seal, Versace, Vera Wang, Valentino, Urban Outfitters, Tory Burch, Bally, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Perry Ellis, New Balance, Nike, and J. Crew, among others. It appears that Nike, H&M, Tory Burch, Louis Vuitton, and Perry Ellis – in addition to other brands – have settled their matters with Gomez out of court.
According to a statement from one of Gomez's attorney, Thomas Bacon, exclusively to TFL: "Case law holds that websites are considered extensions of places of public accommodation because they provide access to the goods, services, facilities, accommodations, benefits and advantages of a place of public accommodation. The prevailing interpretation is that this is limited to websites that are associated with a physical location, such as a store. Such websites must be accessible to the disabled, including those who are visually impaired. There are standards and software that is recognized by the industry for such access. Websites have been designed well after the effective date of the ADA and continue to be revised, upgraded and maintained. Therefore, there is no excuse for failure to make websites available to the visually impaired. The public relies heavily on websites to shop and otherwise access places of public accommodation. To deny equal opportunity to the visually impaired is to effectively shut them out of an advantage and opportunity afforded to the non-disabled public."
A GROWING AREA OF LITIGATION
Gomez's lawsuit and others like it should serve as a wakeup call for brands. While it may seem as though Gomez is taking something of an overly aggressive approach to litigation here - suing every brand from Taco Bell to Louis Vuitton in a period of 18 months or so - he is not alone. In the past year, an increasing number of companies have faced lawsuits from both blind and deaf plaintiffs alleging that their websites violate the ADA.
Many companies have looked to the Department of Justice ("DOJ") for guidance on how to make their websites compliant with federal disabilities law, only to be faced with a years-long wait. In the meantime, judges are not waiting for the DOJ to speak out on this matter and are, instead, moving forward with the cases that have been filed. This past March, a California judge handed a landmark victory to Edward Davis, a blind plaintiff, who sued luggage retailer Colorado Bag’n Baggage and a dozen other companies, alleging that their websites were not accessible to visually impaired consumers. The court ordered Bag’N Baggage to pay Davis $4,000 and enjoined it from further violation of the ADA, ordering it to make its website fully accessible to the vision-impaired.
On the heels of the favorable ruling in the Colorado Bag’n Baggage case, Mr. Davis's attorney, Victoria Knowles of the Newport Trial Group, said: “We are very grateful that the Court agreed that corporate websites must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This ruling will have implications far and wide.” And she is not wrong.
Pulse's hot new supermodel, Alicia Burke, continued her exclusive ways in Paris and Milan this month as she closed the 2016 Spring-Summer season. Doing runway duties for a select group of the world's top brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Stella McCartney, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Francesco Scognamiglio, her impact did not go unnoticed, as Vogue was quick to rave "Alicia is the model Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana can't get enough of".
But this in not new for Vogue, which has kept its lens firmly focused on the Jamaican star. In May, when Alicia hit the runway for Gucci, fashion's style arbiter proclaimed: "When a great model arrives, everyone takes notice." And so it has. After only nine months in the international market, Alicia has repped almost every major client that there is in fashion's stratosphere. She is arguably the fastest rising new model in the world this year, with a super impressive rÈsumÈ to prove it.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW
The New York Times was quick to add their voice to the adulation last month when the august publication, in announcing her debut in New York, noted her outstanding work on European runways, highlighting "fall winter 2016 collections (Bottega Veneta, Miu Miu among them) and, more recently, Gucci resort and Schiaparelli's haute couture show."
Burke told Vogue that her career highlights thus far included "seeing herself in the pages of Vogue's French edition and trying out Gigi Hadid's Tommy Hilfiger capsule collection before anyone else. I am in love with Tommy by Gigi." She added, "I would go home with any item from that collection."
She was keen to give Jamaica and her agency Pulse lots of props, saying: "Jamaica is such a beautiful island ... it's the birthplace of reggae music and most importantly, it's home." Alicia was also keen to mention that her start came from Pulse's Caribbean Model Search and admitted that she didn't initially realise just how far the contest would take her.
"I entered the contest back home last year and I won. Things just took off from there. I never imagined that I would get to walk for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney - it's such an honour and a dream come true."
In her very brief international career to date, Alicia's client list has grown to include French Vogue (12 pages by herself with David Simms), cover and 18 pages of Harper's Bazaar, Style, Coach, Gucci, Prada, Me & Em, Versace, Italian Vogue, I-D, Benetton, The Sunday Times, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, 1883, Top Shop, Bottega Veneta, Theory with David Simms, Lesley Goring, Harvey Nichols, Tush, J. JS Lee, Azzedine Alaia, Emelio de la Morena, Bora Akeem, Sibling, Osman, Amanda, Schiaparelli, Self Service with Matteo Montanari, Elie Saab, Viktor & Rolf, The Last Magazine with Dan Martensen and Clare Richardson, as well as Double Magazine.
This latest winner of Pulse's Caribbean Model Search reality TV show has been an inspiration to thousands of youth, many of whom have entered this year's event. Her agency, Pulse, is bursting at the seams with pride.
Peter Dundas, creative director of Roberto Cavalli, has left the the label after only 19 months with the Florence-based label.
The Norwegian designer had previously been the artistic director of Emilio Pucci, which he joined in 2008, but had worked with founder Roberto Cavalli as head designer from 2002 to 2005 and his return was seen as something of a homecoming. Dundas’ mix of 1970s, rock-inspired styles and adeptness for print was thought to have been well-suited to Cavalli’s well-known feminine silhouettes, body-hugging fabrics and animal prints.
However, his debut show in 2015 received mixed reviews as he attempted to rejuvenate the brand with a younger, edgier feel. In subsequent collections, a return to his trademark bohemian look was better received.
Following Justin O’Shea’s departure from Brioni last week after seven months at the Italian suit brand, it marks the latest in a long-running saga of fashion musical chairs, with new creative directors taking over at Dior, Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta in the past year.
“I want to thank Roberto Cavalli and the Group for this valuable experience and I wish them the best in their future endeavours,” said Dundas. “I am especially grateful to the ateliers and the teams who participated in this adventure.”
Gian Giacomo Ferraris, CEO of Cavalli, said: “On behalf of Roberto Cavalli and our shareholders, we thank Peter Dundas for his contribution to the brand, and we wish him well for his future ... as Roberto Cavalli goes through a period of transformation, the design team will carry on and the appointment of a new creative director will be made in due course.”
Dundas’ last collection was for spring/summer 2017, shown in September in Milan. Cavalli have yet to name a successor.
British fashion brand Burberry has teamed up with The New Craftsmen to showcase the work of designers and craftspeople in an old Soho warehouse (+ slideshow).
The Makers House exhibition was open for a week following the brand's September show, which was the first that allowed consumers to purchase straight from the catwalk.
It featured different stations and spaces inspired by the collection, and saw makers curated by The New Craftsmen demonstrate various crafts and techniques.
Among the participants were London studio JamesPlumb, who created a set of stairs, and Marlène Huissoud, who was decorating a set of vessels made from propolis – a resin produced by bees.
"Our exciting collaboration with The New Craftsmen nods to both the design heritage that is so integral to Burberry and to some of Britain's most exciting creators and their work," said Burberry chief creative director and CEO Christopher Bailey.
Virgina Woolf's novel Orlando, which was the main inspiration behind the brand's new collection, influenced many of the works and events taking place inside the building.
The historic fantasy novel follows the story of a poet who transitions from a man to a woman during the reign of Elizabeth I.
This was translated into ruffs, lace and leg-of-mutton sleeves for the collection, and floral-print wallpaper for the Makers House building.
In the Precision Workshop, saddlers, embroiderers and bookbinders each demonstrated their craft process, while the Sensory Lab included designers who experiment with colour and scent.
JamesPlumb's Reading Steps, which were inspired by a scene from Orlando, were located in The Library.
"We wanted to create a piece that was bold yet quiet and contemplative – a finished work as a counterpoint to the busy activity of the maker's work in progress," the duo told Dezeen.
"Making is very important to us and our studio – it is absolutely integral to all our work – whether it is our objects or our interiors," they added. "We really design by making, and working by hand allows us personal control of details and a real connection with each work."
The Gabardine Tent hosted Burberry's archive team, who created a retrospective exhibition of the pivotal moments from the company's 160-year history.
The Studio was a purpose-built set for visitors to publish short videos to Instagram, and a shop sold products and designs created by The New Craftsmen.
Burberry was founded in 1856 by 21-year-old dressmaker Thomas Burberry. The brand is most famous for its trench coat and distinctive tartan pattern, which has become one of its most widely copied trademarks.
Under Bailey, the brand has become known for its innovative approach to digital retail. It already offers customers the chance to pre-order clothes from its live-streamed shows, and in 2011 it launched Burberry Bespoke, which allows fashionistas to customise the iconic trench coat.
Makers House was open from 21 to 27 September 2016, during this year's London Design Festival. Other events that took place across the capital included an exhibition of various dung-related designs and a kinetic installation that extends across six floors at the V&A museum.
“Individuality was a key word used backstage,” explains Palau. “There’s a real overarching feeling about having personality and so many of the models were up for having fringes, side burns and shorter cuts backstage for the shows.”
Lesson 1: Get a fringe
From the short fringes at Coach to the swooping diagonal bangs at Gucci, fringes made a comeback on the catwalks and Palau is encouraging us all to get on board. “There are so many different types of fringes, long, short, sweeping, wispy and side, that women shouldn’t be afraid of them. A good hairdresser will be able to cut you a fringe that works for your face shape and style,” says Palau. “It’s about making a statement, but that doesn’t mean it has to be radical. A long fringe can be very flattering, while side-swept bangs can be sexy. It’s about making it work for you.”
Lesson 2: Embrace your curls
“For a long time curls were a no-no in fashion, but now natural curls are really being celebrated and it’s that idea of individuality again,” says Palau. “There were a lot more girls with curls and rather than straightening and smoothing out the movement, we went with it.”
If you're lucky enough to have curls, make sure you treat them properly though. From Kerastase Discipline Curl Ideal Oleo Curl Cream, to Bumble and Bumble Bb.Curl range, there are now a myriad of products promising to define your curls without leaving them feeling heavy or crispy.
Lesson 3: Ditch the hair extensions
There used to be a time when endless reams of hair extensions could be found backstage and designers wanted every model to have the same length and tone. “They aren’t popular anymore, in fact they feel rather old fashioned,” says Palau.
"It’s the first season in a long time that I’ve cut so much hair backstage,” says Palau. “The boyish cuts seen on the catwalk, at Prada and Christopher Kane, offer an effortlessness and relaxed look that women want.”
While not everyone will be willing to cut their tresses as short as the Prada bobs, Palau recommends making tweaks, including wearing a couple of strands of hair over and in front of your ears rather than tucking them behind.
Lesson 4: Blonde is back
“There’s that famous saying and I shouldn’t say it, but I’m going to anyway ‘blondes have more fun’. I think every woman wants to try out being blonde,” says Palau. At Alexander Wang, Palau took a handful of the models’ platinum blonde, but even he admits it wouldn’t work for everyone. “It’s an extreme look and for most women it’s more about placing it properly, lighter blonde strands around your hair line can really lift your complexion,” says Palau. Requesting balayage rather than traditional highlights will give you a softer finish.
The Most Unexpected Accessory at Paris Fashion Week? A Yoga Mat
We never thought we’d type these words, but it appears Maison Margiela is getting into the athleisure scene. For proof of this unlikely course of events, look no further than the brand’s Spring/Summer 2017 show, colorfully pieced together by the crazy mastermind known as John Galliano.
Among the twisted and bead-embellished suits, sporty details began emerging, starting with shoes. A boot/sandal hybrid, in a chevron floral print, was finished off with a split toe detail and a rubber sole–fit for hiking a rocky terrain (or the city’s streets). Then there was a bright wetsuit, peeled down the model’s body, with sleeves flopping from hip to knee. Swishy anoraks with bird prints were used as layering pieces or they stood on their own, in an upgraded, buttery suede iteration.
But the pièce de résistance was a singular teal yoga mat, rolled up and haphazardly tucked into the straps of the model’s backpack, which we imagine was stuffed with leggings, a tank top and an environmentally-friendly water bottle. Much like a busy girl who hits her yoga class before a day at the office, a little blue purse dangled somewhere between the yoga mat and the backpack. At times in life, when squeezing a fitness class into a packed schedule is necessary, we all try master the ‘chic bag lady’ look.
With her modern day sweater set (composed of a fuzzy pink cardigan and and coordinating body suit) and almost practical headband, save for being made of latex, this runway getup could be a realistic depiction of something worn by a millennial with a ClassPass account. Please take note, this might be Galliano’s most sensible look to date.
As Bottega Veneta celebrates it’s 50th, 7 things you need to know about the latest collection
Bottega Veneta celebrate two anniversaries this season, the 50th anniversary of the luxury fashion and accessories brand and 15 years of Tomas Maier as creative director. It’s a happy landmark occasion for both.
1. For the first time Tomas Maier presents both men’s and women’s wear together on the catwalk, for Spring/Summer 2017.
2. Men wore biker jackets and blousons over loose cotton chinos and women wore long and short coats in ostrich, crocodile and lamb’s leather and wedge heel shoes with ankle straps or slingbacks that were textured to look like cherished heirlooms.
3. These are beautiful fluid clothes in luxurious fabrics such as the bonded cotton raffia coat worn by Malgosia, and colourful leather or fine bonded black cotton dresses with jet beading and beautiful ‘antique’ silver jewellery.
4. The most touching moment of the show was Gigi Hadid helping the model and actress Lauren Hutton along the very long catwalk in the finale. It served as a metaphor for the show. The iconic Hutton cheered down the runway in her beige silk coat aided by the young star Gigi in a dusty pink silk sweater and pant combo proves Bottega’s appeal spans the generations.
5. For the front row, there were famous faces like Karen Elsen in red sweater and geranium pink leather skirt, and Eva Herzigova in a navy gabardine jacket with a bralette and trousers. There were newcomers in lovely calf length dresses making for an overall style that is long, fluid and graceful.
6. To mark the anniversary there are 15 new bags styles and 15 bags brought back from the archive, including the Intrecciato clutch carried by Lauren Hutton in the iconic film in which she starred American Gigolo.
7. At the end of his show Tomas Maier walked down the catwalk with his design team to a standing ovation, acknowledging their important contribution to the success of the brand.
“It is for a good cause,” I tell myself and splurge on a linen sari. “This for my daughter who loves big earrings,” I say and fork out some more money.
Get your excuses ready before you visit Shrishti 2016, Crafts Council of Tamil Nadu’s flagship exhibition. Suguna Kalyana Mandapam, the venue of the exhibition, is already bursting at the seams and it has barely been open for an hour.
Pallav Chandra and his wife Mithu are explaining the intricacies of weaving to a customer, as I try unsuccessfully to look away from a bright red sari. They have a stall called Shoi (Signature) where linen saris in the good honest colours of nature lie waiting to snare you.
Pallav has an NID background and, after a long stint in the corporate world, decided to design textiles in Kotagiri. He gets his designs woven into saris and stoles in Bengal where he works with clusters of weavers. He admits that the weavers in Bengal mostly live in penury and he is trying to help by bringing them regular work.
The conversation goes a long way in mitigating my guilt. In fact, the funds that Srishti raises goes towards providing a platform for craftspeople to bring and sell their creations directly to the public at the Crafts Bazaar, the other wonderful event CCTN brings annually to the city. So knock yourselves out!
Many of the craftspeople have also come visiting and patronage would go a long way in ensuring that these exquisite handicrafts do not fade away. Kartik Manna and Palash sit quietly in their stall called Shunya. On the wall is a Batik dupatta that shows a swirl of water with fish swimming in it. It is obvious even to untrained eyes that it must have taken much pain, time, patience and love to create it.
Kartik and Palash are from Medinipur in West Bengal. Stoles, dupattas, saris and salwar fabrics in Batik is what they make. It is their first time in Coimbatore and they hope people will appreciate their work.
Is Batik yet another disappearing art? Kartik and Palash say ‘no’. So far, so good and, with more patronage and awareness about how much of hard work goes into it, they hope it will be around for the next generation to appreciate as well.
Instead of sitting around and bemoaning the loss of traditional work and doing nothing about it, Mayank Anand and Shraddha Nigam say they decided to go to the Kahla weavers in Kutch for their beautiful natural fabric. Mayank and Shraddha have brought a collection of elegant and hip clothes made in the traditional fabric.
No saris? “We have not brought them. We feel that unless we show the potential of these age-old fabrics to be as contemporary as you can make them, they will die out. We wanted to showcase how trendy and modern these fabrics can look,” says Sraddha. Mayank adds that, while they have seen young people still wearing saris in Coimbatore, it is almost non-existent in the North.
Thankfully saris are doing brisk business at Srishti and linens seem to be the flavour of the day. Several stalls offer gorgeous colours and textures. You can match the saris with ready-to-stitch-blouses if you want.
If you are in an expansive mood, there are beautiful earrings and other accessories too. Don’t miss Desi Soul whose collection is affordable and eye-catching. Light-as- air Ajrak saris and fabrics are always favourites and Ajrak Aurangzeb has them in plenty.
It is nice to see some familiar stalls. They are like old friends. Even nicer to see new ones. Canningo from Delhi has interesting table linen made of a special fibre that is easy to maintain. They have curtains and some funky bags too.
There are 60-odd stalls at the exhibition and each offers something exciting. There are fashionable and fun ready-to-wear, scarves, stoles and funky accessories.
Do walk around a couple of times before you make up your mind. Sometimes something you missed the first time may catch your eye in the next round. But don’t hesitate too long.
I fell in love with another gorgeous linen at Susha’s. By the time I could locate my husband for his opinion, someone else grabbed it. Don’t let that happen to you!