ET Women's Forum: Sustaining a fashion brand a challenge; succeed in India first before heading West

Fashion designers want to fulfil demand of the domestic market before going global.

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(From left) Namrata Joshipura, Anita Dongre and Ruchika Sachdeva
The Economic Times Women’s Forum 2019 took forward the mission that it launched last year — to collaboratively and urgently build a sustainable culture of empowering India’s half a billion women — through a scintillating day of conversations and debates about encouraging greater participation and reducing gender inequality in every sphere of life, work, and play.

Why hasn’t India been able to create a Tommy Hilfiger or Gucci, though we have the resources in terms of materials and talent? This was the question put to the ‘Style Divas’ panelists at the ET Women’s Forum. The answer: we are well on our way to getting there and you will see an Indian brand in the global fashion space in the next 10 years.

The ‘divas’ on the panel already have a global footprint and know what they’re talking about. Namrata Joshipura, who started her label in New York, said: “People think you’ve arrived if you’ve done a show in Paris or Milan, but that’s not necessarily true. Sustaining a brand is a challenge. I still supply to the stores I started with in New York, though I’m no longer based there.”


Joshipura has gradually built up scale and currently has 250 people directly working on the Narmrata Joshipura and Namjosh accessories brands. Another fashion diva on the panel who has achieved scale (she directly employs 3,000 people) is Anita Dongre, who said, “You have to succeed in the Indian market before going West. We have a big domestic market—why not fulfill demand here before going to other markets? Do we really need to be in Milan to feel successful?”

ET Women's Forum: Shikha Sharma, Diana Hayden, Aditi Mittal Reveal How To Prioritise Oneself
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Eminent women suggest what you should do to put yourself first.

In pic from left: (Shikha Sharma, Diana Hayden, Aditi Mittal)

Eminent women suggest what you should do to put yourself first.In pic from left: (Shikha Sharma, Diana Hayden, Aditi Mittal)

Shikha Sharma, Former MD, Axis Bank

My advice for women has always been, ‘Believe in yourself.’ Do not overcompensate by being aggressive or being like anybody else. You never win by playing someone else’s game. You only win by playing your own game. So, play to your strengths. Make sure you are learning every day.

Shikha Sharma, Former MD, Axis BankMy advice for women has always been, ‘Believe in yourself.’ Do not overcompensate by being aggressive or being like anybody else. You never win by playing someone e..
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Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997

To put yourself first, you need to change your thought process. It’s all in your head and that’s where it starts. Understand and truly get self-confident. You need to treat yourself well. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997To put yourself first, you need to change your thought process. It’s all in your head and that’s where it starts. Understand and truly get self-confident. You need to tre..
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Namita Thapar, Executive Director, Emcure Pharmaceuticals

We need to learn to be a bit more selfish. We always tend to put others before us and I think we need to take the time out to pamper ourselves. Whether it’s going to the salon or going to watch a movie, do certain selfish things and schedule it. And also, choosing the right man to marry is important. While you can use your head and heart for other decisions, I would recommend going with your gut for this one.

Namita Thapar, Executive Director, Emcure PharmaceuticalsWe need to learn to be a bit more selfish. We always tend to put others before us and I think we need to take the time out to pamper ourselves..
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Namrata Joshipura, Founder, Joshipura Designs

Never feel guilty. As working women and mothers, we do our best. When my daughter was much younger, I would often feel guilty that I’m either in the office or when I was with her, I would feel guilty about not being in the office. Today, I feel I gave my child, my home, and my work as much time as each needed. I did and am doing my best.

Namrata Joshipura, Founder, Joshipura DesignsNever feel guilty. As working women and mothers, we do our best. When my daughter was much younger, I would often feel guilty that I’m either in the offic..
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Rashmi Shukla, ADGP, Maharashtra Police

If you want to maintain a balance (between work and life), be mentally prepared to accept responsibilities. In my case, I had tremendous support from my late husband. What is important is to know your limitations. Once you know your limitations, they can become your strengths.

Rashmi Shukla, ADGP, Maharashtra PoliceIf you want to maintain a balance (between work and life), be mentally prepared to accept responsibilities. In my case, I had tremendous support from my late hu..
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Aditi Mittal, Comedian

Women are often conditioned to think that the needs of others come before their own. So, put yourself first. We normally put other people first at the cost of ourselves. Like the emergency mask on the flight, you need to put yours on first before you help the child. That’s so you can breathe enough before you empower the child.

Aditi Mittal, ComedianWomen are often conditioned to think that the needs of others come before their own. So, put yourself first. We normally put other people first at the cost of ourselves. Like th..
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Fawzia Koofi, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan

The first thing is setting goals for yourself. And the second thing is to stay committed to what you believe in. Often for women, it’s not easy to stick to what they believe in and what they want to achieve. During times like these, you need to keep your focus.

Fawzia Koofi, Member of Parliament, AfghanistanThe first thing is setting goals for yourself. And the second thing is to stay committed to what you believe in. Often for women, it’s not easy to stick..
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Vidya Shah CEO, EdelGive Foundation

It is this feeling of ‘I am no different’ and seeing humanity in yourself, not just as a woman but as a person. We are no different from anybody else, so I don’t know why we (women) get into the thing that I’m a woman so I won’t be able to do this or won’t be able to access that. That is vital. A lot of us on the panel were raised in ordinary homes but we were raised to believe that we are no different.

Vidya Shah CEO, EdelGive FoundationIt is this feeling of ‘I am no different’ and seeing humanity in yourself, not just as a woman but as a person. We are no different from anybody else, so I don’t kn..
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The third diva on the panel was Ruchika Sachdeva, founder of Bodice.com and recently the winner of the Woolmark Award for 2018. When moderator Ruchika Mehta, editor of Hello magazine, asked her how the prestigious international award has boosted her label, Sachdeva replied: “It has given me exposure to the top people in the global fashion industry, which is great, but a designer is only as good as her last collection. You just have to keep making clothes that are both stylish and comfortable, which women will want to wear.”

Sachdeva pointed out that India has quite a tradition of making sustainable clothing, which is in demand in the West: “We make handwoven fabrics using natural dyes, no chemicals, no electricity. But customers still think of it as ethnic wear that can’t be worn outside of India.”

Dongre has four brands in her portfolio, including Global Desi, for ethnic wear, and Grassroots, for organic clothing. “I’ve always had this desire to take Indian grassroot designs to the West,” she said. “India has much to offer in terms of sustainable clothing, sustainable lifestyles. But it’s not easy selling to the West.”
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This panel was moderated by Ruchika Mehta, editor, Hello.


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