BY PUJA GUPTA
With the government of India encouraging and unveiling several schemes to promote the startup ecosystem in the country in every sector, why should fashion lag behind? FIO one such Delhi-based startup that acts as an aggregator for various players (designers, buyers, exporters, suppliers, etc) in the fashion and design industry facilitating business and networking opportunities.
Brainchild of Robby Rawat and Vivek Rawat, the firm that was incepted in 2019 aim is to bridge the gap between young designers and international markets.
It offers business and networking platforms for fashion and design professionals through its events like the Asian Designer Week, The Destination Wedding Show, FIO Popups.
IANSlife spoke to Robby Rawat to know more about their venture, the current scene of fashion startups in India and the Indian fashion industry.
Q: What is FIO?
Rawat: FIO aims to be a collaborative and community centric one-stop platform for creators and consumers in the field of fashion and design. The vision of FIO revolves around creating the biggest fashion and design community and leveraging that community to facilitate business, networking and learning opportunities. At present, the company is building its community through event platforms and successfully created an offline ecosystem. It is popularly known by one of its flagship event platforms, the Asian Designer Week.
FIO is soon going to launch its tech platform offering marketplace, professional networking, and content-based one-stop platform for everyone in the creative world.
Q: How do you see the current situation of fashion startups?
Rawat: The current situation of the Indian fashion industry in general is very unstructured. There is a big gap between domestic and international markets. The designer community is facing a slowdown and they need to think beyond the traditional model.
However, some of the startups have understood the opportunities and came up with some unique ideas. The rental and pre-owned fashion business is one of them. Then there are a few e-commerce startups who are doing really good in the affordable segment. Some of them are also trying AI and Virtual Reality support. Startups catering to niche segment like socks, lingerie are also picking up. Overall the future of fashion startups in India looks very promising.
Q: How do you see the future of fashion in India?
Rawat: India is a big market for global fashion and design industry. The future in fashion will surely see brands originating from India, manufactured in India with well-established worldwide distribution and retail, and also being adopted by the western culture.
The definition of ‘fast fashion’ will change in many folds. A decade down the line we can expect the extension of the “on-demand” economy for fashion. We will finally see 3D printers getting into the fashion and design world actively. The retail startups will grow enormously since a substantial amount of investment will flow into data research, innovation and science.
Fashion will evolve to be more than just about appearance and style. Due to advancing technology and innovation, fashion will be a song for expressions. The fashion industry will witness the use of polymer threads, sustainable fabric and materials with environmental consciousness.
India has a lot to contribute in the near future due to its startup ecosystem and the understanding of advanced technology.
Q: How FIO is helping fashion startups to raise funds?
Rawat: FIO has earlier announced to launch a Global Incubation Center in association with its industry body, Asian Fashion & Design Council and Whizdom Club by MQDC. The aim of this center is to support ideas in the fields of fashion, design and innovation.
The business idea should also have a social impact, including sustainability, grassroot upliftment, etc. The center will select few such ideas in their early stages and help them grow professionally for the bigger markets. We are also partnering other corporate, investors, and domain experts to help us create an effective ecosystem for them.
FIO will facilitate a demo day for such startups during the Asian Designer Week and also help them in cross-border activities.
Q: What major differences do you see between Indian and international fashion industry?
Rawat: India is a focal point for the fashion industry, reflecting a rapidly increasing middle class and a powerful manufacturing sector. These forces, together with growing tech awareness, make India too important for the international market to ignore.
‘India’s apparel market will be worth $59.3 billion in 2022, making it the sixth largest in the world, comparable to the United Kingdom’s ($65 billion) and Germany’s ($63.1 billion),’ Data from McKinsey’s FashionScope says.
While the Indian market is gold for international brands, the issues remain in the ‘structure’. It is the most unstructured market that does not have a strong network and growth opportunities for its own labels and brands. (IANS)