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The name game

Sometimes it pays for fashion brands to avoid the designer’s name and pick one with a global appeal – or one that is not easily slotted

Pero, Aekatri, SWGT. They may sound like Italian brands, but they belong to Indian designers who have cleverly steered clear of using their own names as brandnames.

Pero, a hit both in India and Europe, is a Marwari term that means ‘to wear’ and uses its exotic syllables to woo its Italian clientele!

Aekatri, which seems like an alien word because of the fancy spelling, actually means ‘to collect’ in Hindi. It best describes a brand in which a collection of exotic flowers is a reoccurring motif.

As for SWGT, it simply stands for Shweta Gupta. The abbreviated term suggests a corporate strength that the full name could not have conveyed, confirms the designer.

Designer Aneeth Arora, who has always been a recluse in the Indian fashion scene, has avoided giving her own identity to her label. From personal experience, I remember watching people visiting her and greeting her with a ‘Hello’ without even knowing her as the person behind the label. She takes these incidents sportingly and often feels a little accomplished when something like that happens.

In a time where starting a business and owning a label isn’t restricted to the privileged few, it can be a challenge to decide on a brand’s representation where no name seems to do justice to a designer’s work.

To cure this syndrome, some designers have chosen to call their brands with unfilled identities.

Brandless, a brand by accessory designer Aanchal Mittan, was born while she was contemplating the thought process behind brand names. A brand with a satirical ideology behind its identity has aesthetics and quality as its core values. Another brand that followed suit is a womenswear label Untitled, that describes itself as a seasonless brand.

While designers have gone all out in creating names that best present their work, some believe in adding little souvenirs attached to their clothes that add flavour to their identity which a name alone may not guarantee. From handmade tags that best describe their story of being made in a certain way to little dolls and hearts made with waste fabric — these little touches on each of their garments send the message of being handmade. It is yet another innovative way to convey your singularity in the fashion business.

On the other hand, there are veterans who have become household names by using their own names: Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani, Anita Dongre and Ritu Kumar. They paved the way for the Indian fashion fraternity, lending their own names to their brand’s character. The trend started by their western counterparts continues to stay relevant even for the younger lot in the Indian design scene.

Thus in the second generation of fashion designers you have Masaba Gupta, Rahul Mishra and Suket Dhir, who choose to have eponymous recognition for themselves. There are a few unique advantages to it, like starting a legacy in the family’s name and the everyday satisfaction of seeing one’s name on a dress or accessory. Yet, it comes with its own setbacks.

When Belgium’s Martin Margiela became famous for designing the clothes that he did, he made sure his clothes did not come with the baggage of his identity. All his clothes were sold with a blank canvas strip attached onto the garment’s back with four ivory stitches as a brand tag. While the fans showed off the four stitches at the back of a Margiela outfit, the Belgian fashion designer continued to produce garments without any branding to ensure his craft gets the attention it deserves. The brand, which is now worth billions of dollars, has now turned to add a few abstract numbers that depicts its entire product line. Still no trace of the celebration of the brand name.

This is one example of how a fashion designer went about his label’s name and wanted to concentrate on his work than gloat about the personal identity of his fashion. However, this may not be the ultimate way for designer swould go about their brands. Every creative follows his/her own individuality, that in fact is inspired by the ideas that matter to them and have influenced their work and their own integrity as a designer.

Ever since the idea of fashion has flourished in India, there has been a plethora of fashion designers that have decided to go solo and launch their own fashion lines. Moving from their comfort zone of dealing with the creative aspect of the business, these expressive minds do more than that when they are building their own infrastructure.

From setting up teams to back their production, marketing, finances and management to choosing a name to represent their label, it is a rigorous process that takes a great deal of planning and organization. A number of people work together to make a fashion designer’s vision a reality, which is often depicted by the sole designer’s name as the label’s identity.

The Gucci family and most recently the Fiorucci family who were once the owners of the multi billion-dollar luxury brands, have been told to no longer use their personal names, or do so with restrictions, when developing new brands. These restrictions that the founding families must adhere to are a by-product of the very deals that the designers themselves agreed to in exchange for huge amounts of money.