From the Chairman’s Desk

Dear Friends,

It is my privilege to be chairing the 20th congregation of India Fashion Forum, which over the years has become the annual convergence point for the best fashion retail minds in the country And it is with a sense of immense pride that I invite you to the 20th edition of India Fashion Forum on December 17th and 18th at Hotel Conrad, Bengaluru. India’s largest fashion retail intelligence event — or IFF, as we all refer to it — is turning 20 in December 2019, marking two decades of its recognition as a key influencer and catalyst of fashion retail evolution in India. And for the first time in its long history, IFF is also changing its address — to Bengaluru, home to possibly India’s most innovative, tech-entrepreneurial demographic.

IFF’s move to Bengaluru endorses the story of fashion retail metamorphosis over the past few years. If the customer is at the heart of successful retailing, tech is now the soul. This underpins the launch of Fashion Techway at the 20th edition of IFF. A futuristic showcase of tech-propelled fashion retail innovation, Fashion Techway will be not just the Showstopper, but will also be a ‘crystal ball’ of the future of this industry.

Many analysts pointed out last year that 2019 could be a year of reckoning for the business of fashion globally; only those who acknowledge that old rules don’t work in the new still-forming paradigm will succeed. Regardless of format, scale or offering, we fashion retailers need to be agile, have a digital-first approach and dramatically enhance our speed to market. But most importantly, we need to decisively move out of our ‘comfort zones’. There is nothing as debilitating as resistance to change, and world-wide, this is playing out in challenging ways for the business of fashion retail.

We must develop the mindset and skills to ‘self-disrupt’; nurture an intuitive, first-mover, bold approach if we are to not just not ride out disruption successfully, but in fact, initiate it. To those who say that Indian consumption is not enthusiastic enough, let me respond with this: Over 300 international fashion and lifestyle brands are to open stores in India by 2022, according to a McKinsey report. A rapidly growing middle-class, powerful manufacturing sector and strong economic fundamentals make the country too important for international brands to ignore. And the  Indian middle class is forecast to expand at 19.4 per cent a year, outpacing China, Mexico and Brazil. I think the statistics speak for themselves.

Also, not to forget India’s native intelligence through thousands of years of trading and retailing. Our legacy will never be obsolete; we just need to have powerful faith in ourselves. Do not be distracted or intimidated by new-fangled technology jargons; Indian brands and retailers need to use the intimate knowledge of our own country to effectively compete in a globalised market.

An industry will go where its stakeholders lead it to. It is up to us to assert India’s position as an innovation-led, digital-first, global benchmark of fashion retail. Join me on December 17th and 18th at the Hotel Conrad in Bengaluru to power the Future of Fashion Retail in India.

I shall be happy to receive your suggestions to make 20th IFF more meaningful for you and others. You can write to me at chairman@indiafashionforum.in

 

AKHILESH PRASAD
CHAIRMAN, 20th IFF
PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE, FASHION & LIFESTYLE BUSINESS, RELIANCE RETAIL