I write this with a lot of bitterness, not to mention sorrow.
Many years ago, I used to get invited to parties that I looked forward to going to. Nowadays, nobody asks me out to those kind of parties; and the parties I am invited out to, nobody, not even I would like to go to. The reasons are not far to see: I am not rich, I am far from being bright, and not even my wife would call me handsome. As a result, the chances of my ever getting into any page 3 of any newspaper in India are slim. And therein lies the rub.
Unless you are a page 3 number, you don’t get invited to fashion shows. I don’t mean any of the so-called fashion shows which take place in the local girls college, building society, etc – I mean the real thing, like the Lakme fashion week, and the big numbers where page 3 designers show off their creations.
And unless you get to these big shows, you don’t get to encounter the latest marketing strategy, the malfunctioning wardrobe. This really bugs me. For months, I was a dedicated student of the Lingerie Show on Fashion TV – until the local cable fellow took it off his menu, instigated by my wife and other ladies of our society. As part of my education, I think I have acquired the right balance of interest and dissimulation required to appreciate the virtues of malfunctioning wardrobes. But, to my sorrow, I am left out from the arena where I could have contributed so much.
There are some hypotheses, discussed in media, about the regularity of wardrobe malfunctions in the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai (March-April 2006). I present a few of them, which my friends, who feel similarly left out, and I have discussed:
- This is a strategy devised to drive off competition – defined as the fashion week going on simultaneously in New Delhi. When Mumbai promises that the assets of supermodels may be on display at any moment, why should anybody pay attention to New Delhi, which is not making a competitive brand promise?
- It is a strategy devised in conjunction with media, who have no news happening. Look at their predicament: Sonia Gandhi can’t resign every day; the office of profit issue is old hat; we have got used to the failure of the top order batting of our cricket team; and Sania Mirza’s stasis in the 40s of the ranking list is not exciting any more. So, how does media fill up space and time?
- One of the big TV channels is coming out with a new reality show – the pilot programme is being shot during the Lakme fashion show. The show is called “U got what it takes?”
- The big fashion labels are going in for a hefty price hike. This will be supported by a marketing strategy centred on the concept of “guaranteed wardrobe malfunction”. This is a globally winning strategy. Consider this: if you could promise your customer that each dress is guaranteed to malfunction, via remote control, thereby guaranteeing the customer lots of photo-ops for page 3s, why should said customer want to buy competition? Just wearing your designer label would guarantee that the customer becomes a page 3 number. No price is too high to pay for such eminence. You could throw in a 12-month guarantee period, a 3-year AMC (carry in, or onsite), and … All you marketing guys out there will find new and fabulous ideas to take this forward.
I love the last hypothesis myself, primarily since it is mine. I am open to offers from the large fashion houses. Of course, I am not cheap; but I will show some consideration, since this could by my passport to page 3.
Cheers, boys and girls; will tell you how this strategy pans out.
(Posted on sulekha.com on Apr 1 2006.)