The Economist report states that Indians spend almost $130 billion annually on weddings and the wedding market is expected to generate business worth more than Rs 3.75 lakh crore this year. Thus, the Fashion Design Council of India Wedding Weekend from August 5 to 6, at the Taj Palace hotel, arrived just in time for the 16 participating couturiers as this is the season for maximum revenue generation.
Anamika Khanna, Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani, JJ Valaya, Rahul Mishra, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Suneet Varma, Falguni Shane Peacock, Dolly J, Gaurav Gupta, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Varun Bahl, Shantnu Nikhil, Kunal Rawal, Rimzim Dadu, Rose Room besides a host of wedding planners and jewellers, were brought together by Sunil Sethi, the Chairman of FDCI.
The India Couture Week makes business sense for any serious couturier, as it is highly subsidised. At a total cost of Rs 22 lakh plus GST, you are provided everything — venue (which is the most expensive costing above Rs 20 lakh if you want to put up a show on your own without any sponsor), set design, choreographers, models, music and lights.
All the arrangements are executed deftly by the FDCI in conjunction with the designers’ teams. The designers explain their vision and the teams plan and keep it ready.
Paris Couture Week veteran Rahul Mishra, who understands the financials behind a show believes if you go solo, the costs go up exponentially, and it becomes almost unaffordable. Investing in the entire exclusive 30-40 piece collection is another added cost for the couturier of more than a crore, sometimes even two crores, as you are investing in the finest fabrics, embroideries, all done by hand, semi-precious threads and stones with each piece taking almost four weeks to make. There is intricate hand-work involved, making couture state-of-the-art.
Right now, Rahul’s massive unit in NOIDA is making 3-4 versions of what has been showcased at the India Couture Week 2023. Brides, who visited the FDCI Wedding Weekend, will place their orders.
“The Wedding Weekend allowed brides to touch and feel. We took orders on samples and we will deliver the product in two-three months,” says Rahul.
Custom-sized, fulfilling the desire of the bride, and lots of bookings will happen in August and by October, the peak season, they will be couriered.
“Every detail is taken care of and client satisfaction is imperative, the timings of the FDCI WW was perfect and exhibitions are always lucrative,” says Rahul.
These exhibitions also enable them to deal directly with customer and understand and tweak their collections as per their needs.
The young and talented Isha Jajodia believes the initial investment for creating a line can sometimes reach Rs 2 crore as she sources the finest chikankari from singer Kanika Kapoor and her mother’s company that does the most detailed pieces in Lucknow.
“Everything is done in Resham and is unique, making it ideal for a discerning clientele that understands luxury,” says Isha, who showcased under her brand Rose Room at India Couture Week, 2023.
But the dynamic changes if you get a showstopper. Any A-lister will demand Rs 10-15 lakh, increasing the cost of the show.
The lace and jaali work take huge manpower to execute, admits Isha and the delivery for the WW orders will only be in October-end.
“The WW is going to be special as I already have three to four families flying down with their extensive shopping list,” she confesses.
It’s not just the bride she wants to dress but also the extended family and close friends.
For her, it is the biggest revenue generator, and her ivories sell well, almost 120 pieces this season and the cost can go up to almost Rs 3.75 lakh for a piece.
The return on investment is good and sustainable, and soulful especially as you are also employing craftsmen who have left their family embroidery business to pursue jobs in metropolitan cities.
“We want to give employment to karigars and couture ensures that since everything is hand-made, it is time consuming,” says Rahul.
That’s why his line also pays homage to the deft hands that create magic of embellishments titled “We the people”.
Isha J admits most of her line is lightweight and can even be carried for destination weddings, one which she too is ready to attend this year in Paris.
“You can pack and go, my garments are no fuss, that’s the beauty of couture I have created,” says Isha.
“The FDCI Wedding Weekend is extremely important as it will generate sales for our couturiers. This is the final end of the glamour behind the shows. It is essential to create collections which are unique and saleable. They will take orders and then deliver exclusive pieces which are both classic yet contemporary,” says Sunil Sethi, Chairman, FDCI.
Being a debut for his brainchild, the Wedding Weekend (WW), he is looking forward to providing one top solutions to all the bridal needs including décor, gifting and jewellery.
Sonam Modi of SVA couture isn’t part of the India Couture Week, but he says the starting cost of a lehenga set is Rs 50,000 for the printed one and Rs 3.5 lakh for medium embellished, while the starting price for heavily embellished one can go up to Rs 10 lakh.
For saree it is Rs 40,000 for printed and Rs 3 lakh for medium embellished and for jackets – Rs 45,000 and 1.5 lakh.
He admits couture customers invest in patchwork jackets, workmanship, detailing and embellishments as they want to make a statement.
“They also look for versatility, things that can be worn as a set, or even styled separately. The multi-wearability factor is what makes it attractive,” says Sonam.
The customers’ buying habits are evolving, they need to find value in what they buy, good quality, impeccable finish, edgy, you can dress it down and up, and that is what makes the wearer make the purchase.
The Wedding Weekend is a great way to showcase your collections, tap new customers, brides, and families flock to these exhibitions as they have everything under one roof. You don’t need to go to several places to buy all the things you need to put together a wedding.
(The writer is a Delhi-based senior journalist. She has co-authored the book ‘Chrysalis’ and now teaches fashion at Pearl Academy and NIFT)