Sujata Assomill Guest Column: No critics’ point of view at Fashion Week

The union of Lakmé Fashion Week and the Fashion Design Council of India in a fashion week was a moment. Something the industry has wanted for a long time. This recent edition was also the first physical fashion week since the pandemic broke out. But the week seemed only to focus on social media algorithms and sponsors’ diktats.

Touch a sore point

So, I posted an Insta story that said:

“The ecosystem has changed and today the influencers are stakeholders of the event. Fashion always celebrates the new and is happy to welcome new players. But it seems to me that this event has decided that fashion has no time for the people who helped build the foundation of the event. As I speak to the few journalists present, they don’t have much positive to say about the week. Many senior journalists have decided not to participate. There is such a focus on influencer and social media traction, reporters feel invisible, and even the event lacks real content. However, in an industry event, which is what fashion week wants to be, a journalist is the one who documents the news and gives the context. As the first post-pandemic physical fashion week, this must be viewed through a cultural and commercial lens, and this is the role of the fashion journalist. If a fashion week fails to understand and respect this role, what does it say about the future of fashion journalism in India? “

My Insta story was supposed to be just a personal observation. My intention was simply to strike up a conversation about the future of fashion journalism, something in which I obviously have a vested interest and something in which I also have a background and understanding. I heard from one of the organizers, that it was clear that they had in no way ignored the media or the editors and that they had any media there. But the fact that many senior journalists, designers, and even some influencers replayed my story or sent me a message meant that he had struck a chord.

The stakeholders of the OG

Influencers are now key players in fashion (and make a good profit from it too), they are the new “conductors” and I think every reporter is respectful of them. However, it seemed like this fashion week, which is a commercial event, was all about them. The times of the week meant there was a shortage of shoppers and designers seemed to be more interested in collections to grab Instagram attention than anything else. Fashion journalists who felt like they were no longer considered key stakeholders was also another definite issue. It is not the role of an influencer to give context or criticism; this is where the journalist comes in. This may not be something sponsors like, but journalists’ voices help advance fashion and help spark cultural conversations. This element seemed to be missing for me this fashion week and as a major fashion influencer wrote to me: “I have to say I’m sick of the damn twists. I want to read an article that gives some context to the collections.”

Fashion Weeks reflect where the industry is heading. So what did the latest edition of Fashion Week say about the state of Indian fashion?

Sujata Assmull
Sujata Assmull

Dubai-based fashion journalist Sujata Assomul is also an author and advocate for fashion conscious. She was the launch editor of Harper’s Bazaar India.

I Say Chaps is a casual guest column that gives passionate and creative people a platform to have their say.

From HT Brunch, April 3, 2022

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