Chennai has witnessed so many concerts and cultural events happening in unconventional spaces like parks, beaches, etc. But the city never had any fashion show in public spaces. “Generally, to be a part of an event like a fashion show, you have to be either on the guest list or buy tickets or should be part of the organising team. The majority of the population can see it only through newspapers or TV. When you mainstream such events to public spaces, then the common man gets to see such exclusive events. The sensibilities and aesthetics of the events may not be completely understood by them. But this way, the organisers will get to know how many are interested in events like these in the city,” says fashion choreographer Sunil Menon.
But he doubts if fashion shows in public spaces are a practical option in Chennai. “So much money is involved in such events and obviously, the organisers will need to get returns. Most of the sponsors need a special audience that will translate into business for them. If a designer is doing a fashion show, he/she will be inviting people who are willing to buy his/her clothes. When you mainstream it, we don’t know how many people are going to buy the clothes,” he adds.
Hosting fashion shows in public spaces depends on the designer and manufacturer of the garment who has a particular audience or clientele. “If it is ready-to-wear, affordable clothing, we don’t have to think twice before hosting a show in a public space. In foreign countries, designers host fashion events in garages, go-downs, old abandoned cathedrals, etc. The audience is fixed in such events. And most of them have marketing strategies. While organising fashion shows, we have to look at various aspects. The audience is changing and more people are getting into the fashion industry. Designers are upping their game to sustain themselves in the field. Fashion is exclusive and there is huge money involved in it. If we host fashion shows in unconventional spaces, it will be a new experience,” Sunil tells us.
Priya Manikandan, who has organised various fashion events in the city, says, “Most designers like to present their collection to a select audience because they wanted to market the product. As time goes by, we welcome new avenues to present fashion. Because of social and digital media, people have become more conscious of fashion - they know what is in vogue. It will be a welcoming change to do something exclusively for the public. I think fashion show organisers should take the initiative and do a public fashion show. Something out of the box will be interesting and it will go viral.”
According to Prajanya Anand, the decision regarding hosting a fashion show in unconventional spaces depends on the designers and organisers. “Because it is a business-driven initiative, not many are willing to do in public spaces for free. If people are not just focussing on the business part, there is a lot of aspect for growth. In a city like Chennai, there is a huge scope for it. Designers and event organisers need to take a call on hosting fashion shows in public spaces,” says Prajanya.