As the 17th edition of the Bangalore Fashion Week came to a close here on a much larger scale than before, one could take a moment to trace the transformation that the city's fashion scene has undergone through this fashion event, which has been serving as a mirror to the city's ever-expanding couture industry.
According to designers and fashion industry experts, there is no other place that is so welcoming to the new entrants just as it has been for the established designers as the Bangalore Fashion Week (BFW). From internationally acclaimed designers like Riyaz Gangji to students of Dream Zone College from the city, the biannual fashion conclave had the stage set for everyone just like its every other edition had been since its inception in 2009.
"Ever since it began, BFW has become one of the most sought after fashion events in the country. Despite being one of the new guys on the block, as compared to Lakme Fashion Week and others, BFW has done so much more in these years than the other fashion platforms could, in terms of organising editions even internationally -- from Bangkok to Dubai and soon in London. From starting off with audiences who wanted to know what fashion weeks meant to bringing together some of the most serious fashion enthusiasts from across the country, it (BFW) has come a really long way," said organiser Feroz Khan, creative director of Dream Merchants.
Parimala J. Shetty, a Bengaluru-based designer found a platform for her designs through this edition of BFW, her first ever fashion week participation. Known for her fusion of Indian and Western styles, taking inspiration from local dressing styles of various regions of India, Parimala says the fashion week could be one of the few in the country that don't discriminate the designers based on their experience.
"This was my first ever fashion week and I found that the opportunity I have had at BFW to showcase my collections and the exposure I could get wouldn't have been the same at any other city. Bengaluru has grown over the years to be a truly fashionable city. People from all walks of life are turning more conscious about what they choose to wear and how they appear. The same dynamic also reflects in BFW in the way that it's evolving constantly," shared Shetty.
Renowned designer Pali Sachdev of the label MonaPali, who has seen the Indian fashion industry for over three decades now, concurs. "The most unique aspect of BFW is the way that it promotes a lot of students and fresh talent. This way a lot of new ideas are brought forth. Most of the times, it takes beginners quite a lot of effort to find a medium to showcase their work, but through BFW, they get to present their designs before designers from across the country. It's a great way of promoting local talent that is expanding with more and more people coming to Bengaluru through IT and other means," said Delhi-based Sachdev, who has been a part of BFW for many editions.
The differences between the cities New York, London, Delhi and Bengaluru are gradually blurring in terms of fashion due to the advent of social media, believes globally recognised designer Riyaz Gangji, whose label Libas made him the first Indian designer to be listed with the National Stock Exchange.
"Nothing regarding fashion is really new to Bengaluru now. The fact that almost every show was jampacked shows the increasing interest among people in Bengaluru towards fashion. The city has grown to be one of the biggest fashion destinations in India after Mumbai and Delhi, particularly when it comes to bridal fashion. BFW helps in providing quality buyers and the sales are quite a huge number, and is growing immensely," Gangji, who is soon going to design for Ganesh Acharya's Marathi film "Bhikari", told IANS.
Marking his presence at the fashion week for over six years now, Kolkata-based designer Abhishek Dutta said a large number of young consumers in Bengaluru allows for designers to connect with them easily.
"Through tie-ups with online platforms, the fashion week has expanded its market over the years, from not just B2B but also B2C. Being one of the oldest fashion weeks in the country, Bengaluru is a great city even for designers -- whether established or beginners, as it provides for a good brand positioning with a lot of Bengalureans taking interest in fashion trends. This time we've had actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who rarely does the ramp walking for us," an elated Dutta said.
According to Hyderabad-based designer Shruti Chopra, "if the platform focuses on using social media tools to reach out to wider audiences, it could scale newer heights."