Organised by Council for Leather Exports, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the 3rd edition of Designers Fair was held concurrently with India International Leather Fair in Chennai during 1-3 February, 2018. S&A was the media partner of the event.

L-R – Aqeel Ahmed, Naresh Bhasin, N Mohan and FDDI representative

At the 3rd edition of Designers Fair, held at Chennai’s Hotel ITC Grand Chola from February 1 to 3, the Indian leather industry, which makes products for top global brands, displayed its readiness to address a key gap in its value chain – design capabilities – for the next level of growth.

“All major brands in the world are sourcing from India. With this fair, we have narrowed what has been lacking at the sector’s end. We hope the industry surges ahead and beats the buyers’ imagination,” Mukhtarul Amin, Chairman, Council for Leather Exports (CLE) said ahead of the third edition of the fair. Mention may be made that CLE is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India.

Grander participation

Moving on from the first edition of design fair, “This year, the participation is far more ahead, and had quality visitors from across India. The designers are very pleased too with this edition,” Naresh Bhasin, Convener, Designers Fair informed S&A.

41 designers, 32 from 8 countries, displayed a wide range of designs of shoes, leather goods and garments. More than 300 manufacturers and exporters from all over the country, as well as several many from other countries, visited the fair.

Mukhtarul Amin

Bhasin stressed, “The Council for Leather Exports is pleased to announce that the government has confirmed to extend support for 3 more editions i.e. 2018 to 2020.” At most fairs in several countries it is a common practice among designers to present their design collections and projects which are procured by individual exporters on payment basis. Unlike their foreign peers, most Indian exporters and manufacturers have to travel to attend these overseas fairs to experience such exposure. Underscoring this shortage, CLE decided to overcome this by creating a platform, Designers Fair. The fair provides a common opportunity to the overseas as well as home-grown designers to present their design projects in India to the Indian manufacturers or exporters of leather and leather products.

Evidently, design plays a crucial role in enabling market penetration of leather products, a good design substantially increases the value of not only of the product but also of the manufacturer or a brand’s. Considering the significance of design development in moving-up the value chain, long term agreement with foreign and domestic designers, of course with the objective to create new designs for new markets and train local designers, was included as one of the fundamental initiatives for the leather sector under the Make in India programme.

S&A’s Amit Chopra( M) seen interacting with visitors

Accordingly, CLE constituted a task force on design development under the Chairmanship of Naresh Bhasin, who is also the Regional Chairman (West) of the council to implement various design development projects. As per the strategy formulated by the task force, CLE organized the 1st edition of Designers Fair in 2016 in Chennai, from February 1-3. This was under Phase 1 of the Make in India initiative with the objective to help Indian companies to meet popular designers in India and also to enable them to explore the possibilities of not only procuring design projects but also entering into long term associations for product development. The first two editions of the fair ended on a highly successful note, with elaborate display of designs and prototypes of famous designers from India and abroad. Designers from Italy, USA, Brazil, Russia, Belgium, India and Indian design institutes participated in both the events. As a result, the fair has helped create concrete business relations between overseas designers and Indian companies.

In the 2nd edition of Designers fair held in 2017, 34 overseas designers and 8 Indian designers and institutes participated. Besides, the fair was attended by 375 business visitors resulting in generation of business worth of $ 5,37,780.

Manufacturers and exporters are increasingly leaning on home-grown designers as well for business associations ranging from signature lines to limited-edition special range to woo international buyers as well as India’s ambitious consumers. Footwear modelists displaying their collections are the best bet for the same, since they have a specific style and can fuse Indian and international designs brilliantly to develop aspirational products.

COLOSSAL PROSPECTIVE

Rakesh Biyani, Future Group speaking at the event

What is driving this newfound love for designer lines and commercial modelist is the increasing fashion awareness and local knowledge among consumers and exporters’ need to differentiate in an increasingly crowded and commoditized market. There has been an increasing number of collaborations between Indian retailers and designers, but ,unfortunately, most retailers consider these as short-term arrangements, which need to change. In developed markets, for instance, most marketer-designer partnerships are of long term association.

With India on the growth trajectory, there is a need to lay a strong foundation of world-class infrastructure. As the Indian leather and footwear industry is aiming to move-up the value chain, infrastructure and design development have emerged as the two key areas where the industry needs to make headway, across all product segments. Substantial grant has been provided by the government for the development of common infrastructures like testing centers, common facility centers, multi-skill development centers etc. 14 such projects have been implemented or are under implementation by CLE. The Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLs) implemented in XII Plan helped a lot in capacity modernization as well as development of industry-specific infrastructure at the factory level.

According to Bhasin, the fair has achieved the objective of helping the manufacturers and exporters in providing a platform, not only for buying the required designs but also in developing long-term associations with designers in the area of product development. Mention may be made that the task force has been instrumental in conceptualizing the design requirements of the Indian leather industry and in taking the decision to organize the fair.

Jean March of Romans Cad at Designers Fair

Design development initiatives are aimed at not only the exporters but also at the manufacturers who are catering to the domestic market. Underscoring this aspect is increasingly becoming vital as the domestic per capita consumption is expected to increase from the current 2 pairs to 4 pairs by 2020, which itself explains the immense scope for tapping the huge potential in the domestic market. As the demand for more and more middle and high-end products is increasing in the domestic market, the need to take design development seriously also arises. In such a context, technology plays an essential role. Presence of companies such as ROMANs CAD at the fair is an indication of how seriously the organizers take it to help address the needs in the industry.

CLE is the single largest and apex trade promotion organisation of the strong and rapidly growing Indian leather and leather products industry. The council stands committed to the overall development of the Indian leather sector and therefore to achieve higher export growth to enhance India’s share in global leather trade.

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