In the face of Corona scare, a few weeks ago, Fashion Design Council of India decided to postpone the fashion week, a few days before the shows were about to commence. The passes were printed, stage was being laid, however, due to the spreading pandemic, the decision was taken. This of course jolted the fashion industry with a lot of money riding on it, sales getting impacted and most importantly a big question mark on the future of Indian fashion. Hence Sunil Sethi, chairman, FDCI, decided to refund designers with the money they invested on stalls and shows (estimated to be close to a few crores). “I felt it was the right thing to do. Even though the fashion week is just postponed but due to the uncertainty, FDCI cannot commit on a later date. In this medical emergency, this was a natural thing to do. So, the FDCI team asked all designers for the bank details and refunded the money. Many asked me to keep it for the upcoming fashion week which would happen eventually but it didn’t feel right to block their money. Having financial security in time like these is important and I have to be there for our fraternity as FDCI is an organisation by the designers and for the designer. If there is an applause, it should be for the camaraderie in the fashion fraternity because we are all united in the times of crisis,” says Sunil Sethi explaining how the industry is battling crisis as sales are affected and shops are shutting down.
Adding onto this, FDCI will also refund money to the sponsors, “They have always trusted us to deliver and in good said we have faith and keep it for when the fashion week is scheduled but businesses are also going through crisis. It is a hit on the chin for us as we haven’t got a refund or future adjustment credit note from JLN Stadium, even though they are sympathetic towards us and understand the situation. Now, we have approached the Sports Minister, Kiren Rijiju and hoping that things get resolved, “ he adds.
Designers are overwhelmed and felt it was a blessing in disguise for them even though they weren’t expecting and felt they were in the right hands and for the future fashion week. “It was a nice surprise. In fact we never asked for it back understanding how tough it’s been for FDCI to cancel the event and the losses they’ve undertaken but they’ve protected their members and the broader community by doing so. We knew that they would try and adjust it in the next event if possible partially if not fully. So proud to be part of a body that’s been so sensitive at a time when we need it the most. Both in timely cancellation of the event even when things had not become grave in india yet. And refunds to the designers before they even asked,” says Sapna Mehra from Rajesh and Payal Pratap.
Designers across board have applauded FDCI’s thoughtful move. “The initiative was amazing. Times are tough and we are glad that FDCI is supporting the upcoming designers. We had to pay our factory workers, artisans and rentals as business is on a standstill now and orders are on hold it was hard for us,” says designer Paras Modi from SVA Couture who was showcasing at FDCI for the first time. “I trust FDCI and I know our future is in the right hands. I was impressed by the support and cooperation offered by Mr. Sethi. It was my first time and this empathy from his is a boost for us,” says accessory designer Niki Sawansukha who had a stall this time at the fashion week.
Adding on, designer Kanika Goyal says, “All my company accounts are in Yes Bank so I literally had no cash to pay and run hygiene exercises in office. Since the past few months, our circumstances have been tough due to the riots and now the virus. Sales are down, we are struggling with production, amidst all of this, Mr Sunil Sethi reimbursed the money which was very helpful. He was very empathetic and understanding. We ran hygiene exercises, paid the workers now.”