The Delhi Denim Summit : Towards a Brighter Blue 08 Oct 2012
On our mission ‘Towards A Brighter Blue’ we set off for New Delhi to connect with key players in the Indian denim industry.
Our trip was part of a Dutch Fashion networking programme called Dutch Fashion Here & Now – Jeans & High Fashion, a great representation of Amsterdam’s industry.
With the help of our partners at FDCI (Thanks Mr Sethi, Harmeet) and new friends at Denim Club of India (Rajesh & team) we set up our own networking space at India Fashion Week’s Pragati Maidan venue: The Indigo Embassy. Our partnership with FDCI is already proving a very valuable starting point, thanks so much to all concerned.
Our project kicked off in exceptional style, when the Netherlands Embassy, our partner in this event, hosted a cocktail party for us. We were amazed and flattered when we arrived, since the embassy team had dressed the embassy ground palm trees in jeans! (see pic)
Main objective of our trip to India however, was to meet up and connect with Indian kindred spirits to build partnerships for the future. We were delighted to meet Mr Rajesh Dudeja of Denim Club of India and his growing team of denim visionairies.
The session itself was a great success, with around 40 delegates from education, production and industry attending. The vice ambassador of the Netherlands and Mr Sunil Sethi, president of FDCI gave introductory speeches, after which Mariette Hoitink (of HTNK agency, Amsterdam) and I presented the House of Denim vision and our recent Jean School project. After that, Rajesh shared his ideas and objectives from the DCI perspective. Finally, industry experts Prashant Agarwal and Rajesh Bheda gave their perspectives on the future of the industry and need for innovation. To conclude, Arvind Mills creative director Rajesh Gupta and representatives from Li & Fung and Pearl academy contributed their thoughts towards the process.
All were in agreement that the industry has exceptional opportunities ahead; but sustainability and innovation are of the highest prioirity. With a capacity of already 800 million yards a year, India is truly a production powerhouse – and with an average Indian jeans ownership per capita of 0.2 compared to 5.1 in the Netherlands, the market is also huge. A partnership between Dutch design and ‘value-added’ expertise with Indian production and market muscle has enormous perspective.
One of the most inspiring parts of our trip, however, was to learn of Mr Dudeja’s ‘hand loom denim’ project. Having adapted traditional weaving techniques to the specific requirements of denim, he has achieved a phenomenal level of quality. Hand loomed denim is simply beautiful; an amazing breakthrough of sustainability at the ‘low tech’ end of the innovation spectrum. It uses no electricity and requires no laundry, since the hand-feel of the fabric is so soft and the weaving gives a satin-like finish. We are already in the process of introducing this beautiful fabric to top Amsterdam denim designers to see where a collaboration might lead.
We thank all our new Indian friends for their support, enthusiasm and wonderful gifts, most notably the smart Nehru-style jacket that I proudly wore at the event. We look forward to new adventures ahead.