Sponsors just love to be associated with glamour and what better way than fashion (after films) to be “sheen and heard”? It’s a win-win situation for both the designers as well as the sponsors. While the designers get monetary assistance, the sponsoring brands get extensive press coverage, prominent name and product placement. For the ongoing Couture Week, Synergy1 and Aircel are sponsoring Varun Bahl and Manish Malhotra’s shows respectively whereas Rohit Bal is doing the finale.
A famous carmaker had metallic tree-like installations loaded with toy cars of their latest model for Rajesh Pratap Singh’s A/W show at WLIFW 2011 earlier this year. The toy cars cleverly drove home the point that excess of cars in urban spaces may become woods we might lose ourselves in, while declaring who the sponsor was. However, with the limitations of having a sponsor-driven show, Rajesh didn’t let anything hinder his execution.
Whereas designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who did the finale at the same event, said in an interview: “I am doing a sponsored show, but fortunately I have my creative independence here. But I don’t believe in sponsored shows because then designers have to follow the diktats of the sponsors.”
The question here is, do designers have to compromise on creativity and follow the “diktats” if a brand finances their show?
Sanjay Kapoor, managing director, Genesis Luxury, says, “In our experience, there is no diktat that the designer has ever had to follow just because a particular show was sponsored. We have always had the creative freedom to display our seasonal or inspired collections. At times, we’ve created special collections weaving in inspiration from the sponsor’s theme yet the creative freedom has been with the designer.”
Whereas designer Puneet Nanda feels that like everything in life, sponsorship has its positives and negatives. While the plus points include the ability to do a lot of shows, on the other hand, one has to make sure the interest of the sponsor is fulfilled. “That’s why the sponsors love us. Lots of companies fulfilled their objectives by working with us. They usually want the right profile to attend the show, news coverage, and a hike in their client base,” says Puneet.
But he clears that he never compromised on the line and adds, “Some clients who try to meddle with the collection are never allowed to get associated with us. The main problem with sponsored shows is that the designer doesn’t get to control the aesthetics and feel of the venue. That was really an issue sometimes.”
Samant Chauhan agrees no less and says while it’s always good to have a sponsored slot/financial assistance, creativity should not be compromised at any cost. “I was selected to showcase at the Singapore Fashion Week in 2005 and Swarovski offered to sponsor the collection. But I politely declined the offer as I was expected to incorporate Swarovski crystals when my collection had no such requirement. In 2008, when I approached Swarovski, they helped me with around one lakh crystals for my clothes. So, I will only work with a sponsor if its expectations are in sync with my artistic sensibilities.”
However, designers are smarter and more strategic about brand alignments. After all not everybody gets a sponsor. “I have a fantastic relationship with all my collaborators so far. It’s not just about financial support; it’s about independence. I have done shows with many brands and I had full freedom to do things my way. But I can’t deny the fact that sometimes sponsors do dilute your creativity. They hire us for our services, but they can’t dictate the way we design,” adds designer Jatin Kochhar.