15 Minutes of Fame

When television actor-turned-designer Shraddha Nigam launched a fashion label along with partner Mayank Anand two years ago, she decided to pace things instead of fast forwarding. “Both Mayank and I hail from non-fashion backgrounds; so we knew we had to take one step at a time,” she recalls, explaining why she chose to start out with only one stall at the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Summer-Resort last March.

Their “big break”, as Nigam puts it, came only last season, in August 2011, when the duo showcased its winter-festive line at LFW’s newly launched Talent Box show. Under this segment, mini shows that last for not more than 10-15 minutes are held in a smaller space inside the stall area, to promote upcoming fashion designers. “We witnessed double the sales as opposed to our first LFW stint. We are hoping to repeat our success with a similar show this season,” she says.

Anand and Nigam represent just one of the 19 labels that are gearing up for the Talent Box shows at LFW Summer Resort 2012; this is six up from last season’s total of 13 such shows.

Anjana Sharma, Director- Fashion, IMG Reliance, emphasises that this is a great opportunity for the younger designers, who would usually take a stall to display their garments. “The Talent Box shows are the same as a three designer show in terms of duration and fees. However, in case of the former, the designers get an exclusive show in an intimate environment. So for upcoming designers, this is a chance to get some hands-on experience before doing a full-fledged show,” she notes.

Pradeep Hirani of Kimaya, a fashion retail chain, echoes Sharma’s sentiment. “These shows are the perfect springboard for new talent. Last season’s talent shows were quite impressive and we ordered key pieces from several participants,” he says.

These shows are also turning out to be a platform for foreign-based labels looking at getting a foothold in India. Take the case of Hong Kong-based accessory designer Mona Shroff, set to launch her brand in India with her Talent Box show. “My experience in the jewellery business spans 18 years but I need more exposure in India. This format will help me test the Indian waters. I plan to make full use of the 15 minutes I get to showcase 13 creations,” she says.

Another reason behind the shows’ popularity is the relatively less pressure that they carry. “I have a medium-sized workshop that has a limited production capacity, so I couldn’t possibly match the manufacturing scale of a leading designer who can show over 40 creations. The Talent Box format gives me the comfort of working on a smaller number,” points out Nigam.

Designer Nishka Lulla feels low pressure is the best feature of this segment. “Last season, I wanted to showcase my festive line but my styling assignments didn’t allow me to work on a whole collection. So the Talent Box served my purpose,” says Lulla.

Sharma, on her part, reiterates that LFW wants all its designers — established and new — to get an equal opportunity at fame and business. “Talent Box shows don’t take away from regular shows as we have ensured that there is no overlap between the two categories. Moreover, anyone with an access to the stall area can attend the latter,” she ends.

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