Regardless of how many times I’ve been on an airplane, this view never ceases to delight me. Snapping up a photograph to record the view, is almost automatic.

Madura Fashion & Lifestyle recently invited a group of bloggers to give them an exclusive look into the Spring / summer 2015 Collections of Allen Solly, Louis Philippe and Van Heusen. On my way to Bangalore, from New Delhi, I contemplated what such a preview would entail. I’m used to serenading the catwalk at the Wills Fashion Week and have been invited to countless collection preview of individual fashion designers but this was the first time I was invited to preview fashion that is more “retail”. Naturally, not only was I eager to learn more, I was also looking forward to have conversations with the teams at Madura and the agency that had facilitated this preview.

Early morning flights usually mean using the flight-time to polish oneself up and the highlight was the lovely 621 Tutti Frutti CHANEL number for my nails. Thankfully I also had @AkankshaRedhu for company on the flight. I don’t usually fly to and fro on the same day ( India is a large country and flights are usually 2-3 hours long one way ) and bearable company takes away most of the stress of travel.

Once we got off the airplane at the breezy Bangalore Airport, we had some time for quickly freshening up and then it was my turn to desperately seek coffee. Luckily there’s a Cafe Coffee Day right as one gets out of the airport building, before reaching the parking lot. Two strong cold-coffees in hand, enjoying the sunshine, blue skies and the crazy wind, we set off in our chauffeur-driven car to KTPO ( Karnataka Trade Promotion Organization ) where the Fashion Preview Tour would be taking place.

Some more freshening up ( Bangalore is not a large city but traffic is quite terrible and airport transfers take especially long ). Akanksha & I were the first to arrive ( as usual ) and we whiled our time at the dining area. Within an hour, almost everyone else had also arrived and we gathered at the entrance to be taken around for the tour.

The Van Heusen Women’s collection was especially attractive to all the girls. I for one am looking forward to the collection to hit stores here in Delhi. ( Since the Trade Preview is an invite-only exclusive event, photography isn’t even allowed. It too some time for me to get approvals on all the images – they don’t reveal much about the collections. Privacy at this stage is important so as not to reveal strategies to competitors. Only buyers are usually invited to this preview. )

The Louis Philippe section was exquisite not only in the attention to detail for crafting each piece of clothing but also in terms of the techqniues used in creating the fabric and various weaves. There was one jacket / blazer that is anti-crumple and I’m wondering if they have something in the same material for women as well. I would make a beeline to get myself one. Jackets are high-maintenance and generally, the  low-maintenance ones are cheap and liable to be discarded after a few washes / wears.

Another interesting piece in the LP arsenal is a new trouser that has an elastic waist and you can’t tell by just looking at it visually. One can imagine the number of hours that must have gone in the research and experimentation for a product like this. It is an exciting product for men – I feel, when it comes to fashion, they are the under-represented gender.

There was LOTS of denim on display as well and most of us wondered aloud if the contemporary / modern looks would even make it to retail. From what I could gather, by looking at the people who represented all the buyers, they were almost all of them men and not particularly stylish. I’m sure they have a handle on the pulse of what their particular shoppers are more likely to shop for but I also believe they have some part in being responsible for how stylish India as a country looks. We could do with better, more stylish clothes. Not everyone can afford individual fashion designer labels.

The visual merchandising of the entire Trade Show area struck me as having been done quite well. There was attention to detail and the imagery and artefacts used were relevant and interesting. I can’t imagine it would have been easy to combine diverse brands with a multitude of offerings and to present them as one cohesive unit in terms of “feel”. Great job. The visuals did not take the focus away from the collections either.

We took a lunch break sometime in the middle. I was too famished to take photographs of the food but the mutton was especially great. The food area was packed with employees as well as buyers and the catering managed to pull it off without any apparent tussles. Always an incredible feat to manage while maintaining decorum.

The last section of the Preview was Allen Solly and we were all quite pleasantly surprised by the variety of styles they had for women. Some of the trousers attracted attention specifically. By this time, most of us were tired and we were also aware of the evening dinner planned at the Marriott. I wanted nothing more than to catch a couple of hours of sleep in my hotel room.

Just as we were leaving, we dropped into the accessories section and all us girls were squealing on spotting the beautifully colored handbags. The men’s shoes section had brogues too and I wondered aloud whether women’s shoes had a similar selection

I did to catch a couple of hours of sleep before being whisked away to the Marriott’s beautiful poolside for drinks and dinner. I had forgotten how nippy Bangalore can get in the evening – especially for a Delhiite. Luckily they had lots of beer.

Conversations with bloggers and the digital / PR agency folks as well as the management of Madura, gave insights into how the retail side of fashion works and how companies like Madura are trying to venture into collaborations with social media influencers despite the well-perceived risks.

Spent more than thirty minutes chatting with CEO Ashish Dixit about their plans and how he uses social media personally. Janet Arole, who heads Corporate Communications was a delight to converse with as well. I appreciate brands that at least make an effort.

I am not sure whose idea this was but I’m glad it was thought about and implemented. ( Inviting someone like me that is. ) Thank you Janet ( Madura ) and Radhika ( MediaMoments ) for a great day of so many new things I saw and learned. Delightful meeting other press and bloggers. Waiting eagerly for the SS15 collections to reach stores!


On Twitter Allen Solly | Van Heusen | Louis Philippe