Amidst allegations of freeloading in the name of providing publicity from fashion designers, should Bollywood start paying for what it wears? Fashion designer Shahab Durazi recently lashed out against film stars in a social media post, accusing them of not paying up for clothes like the normal people. The post initially found support from fellow designer Rohit Bal who shared it on his Facebook page, but chose to delete it later. As per The Quint, Durazi has come down hard on actors who don’t pay their designers for what they wear during red carpet appearances.
Durazi says, “Designers (with turnovers less than half the daily fee of these celebrities) are expected to provide their creations for red carpet appearances in exchange for publicity. My question is… why can’t these celebrities pay for what they wear like everyone else and why are designers succumbing to this for momentary mileage? Surely the designer can sell her/his creation and garner some goodwill for her/his creativity. She/he need not piggyback to fame riding on the credentials of Bollywood.”
It is understandable why Durazi feels that fashion industry gets swindled in this deal. While actors don designers’ creations for free and revel in the attention from fans and media, all they get is some free publicity.
Or is this matter really so simple? We all know the impact endorsement from celebrities can have. There are brands which pay a considerable sum for such publicity, just for a star to point a finger at their product. Thus, it’s hard to believe that fashion designers do not profit at all from this arrangement.
Also, film stars today are under more pressure than ever to be trendsetters. Every outfit they wear is scrutinised. It becomes news if they choose to repeat a jacket or a saree. Under constant pressure to wear new apparel at every public appearance and red carpet, how many clothes can stars buy for themselves and keep?
According to a SheThePeople.TV source the Bollywood logic is, “We are not going to wear this again and we cannot repeat our garment.” The rise of fashion followers on platforms like Instagram has unleashed a new monster. Bollywood actors want to wear this, that and show off. They are conscious of the public and media scrutiny and simply need new clothes before clicking almost every picture for Insta.
It also seems as if the sense of privilege of seeking garments among film stars has gone up. As another source puts it, “People like Hema Malini, Asha Parekh, Dimple Kapadia, Amrita Singh and many such actors didn’t have this sense of ‘demand’. They always bought clothes. It’s the new generation, which thrives on endorsements in exchange for social media posts.”
But what does it mean for designers?
Is it really that they do not profit at all from these red-carpet endorsements? Hasn’t their clientele expanded through such ‘free’ endorsements? It is hard to believe that these designers do not have tons of customers showing up to buy the red carpet looks of a certain A-list film stars.
“The business has grown. It brings in a whole new clientele, from different sections of society. They look at these pictures and come and say they want what ‘that actor’ wore,” says our source. Designers believe the money lies with an upcoming clientele, that comes from interior India. “People are coming for clothes for baby shower and mothers and senior women are happily wearing gowns.”
This is an industry now, of catering to commoners with red carpet looks of Bollywood stars. And it is the celebrity stylists who thrive in this business. According to the designer SheThePeople.TV spoke to, “Earlier we had designers for films who designed for the films. There were no stylists for the stars. Now, star stylists are managing full on wardrobes for them. Stars no longer want to put their minds on what to wear and insist on getting stylists.”
It isn’t as if designers are under any compulsion to provide freebies to the stars.
Moreover, the free publicity they get is quite considerable. If tomorrow, designers refuse to provide free apparel to film stars, then there may also come a time when they will start charging for making a public appearance in designer labels. Surely that would be a much more expensive deal for designers than it is now.
The whole arrangement feels more like a bargain, with designers now feeling that they are getting the raw deal. Blame it on the starry-eyed junta of our country which equates haute couture to whatever their beloved film stars wear. Unless designers manage to engage the population in fashion and trends without involving film stars, they will never have an upper hand in this matter.
Photo credit: Mid-day
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.