Thursday 29, Oct 2020, Delhi (India)
Suhana Khan’s Vogue shoot, Ibrahim Ali Khan’s magazine shoot, Alaya Furniturewala’s ramp walk at Lakmé Fashion Week 2020, what do all these have in common? If nepotism was your answer you may well be correct.
The shocking demise of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput has led to the initiation of this debate of “Nepotism.” Bollywood in the past few years has taken itself to an extremely different level. The craze for Bollywood movies and celebrities all across the globe is insane and this can be noticed everywhere; be it Priyanka Chopra’s global fan following or Australian cricketer David Warner’s Indian Tik Tok’s. As Indians all of us are highly honored and proud of the global status the Bollywood industry is holding today, no one ever imagined that Bollywood would become globally famous when it started almost 100 years ago.
Although Bollywood has set a different bar at a global level, there is one thing that has been crippling it for the past 20 years. This has also become a topic of debate ever since its existence, which is none other than the controversies of the star kids and Nepotism. The hard fact here is, that nepotism does not exist only in the Bollywood industry, it’s, in fact, omnipresent in each and every aspect of work-life, it’s just that the shades and gradations vary. After Bollywood, the other major industry affected by this concept of nepotism is the fashion industry of India. Those of you who are unaware of what exactly is nepotism, it’s where a chosen few are favored for all of the wrong reasons, to the exclusion of most others, the one with power favor relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.
It could be argued that these star kids and celebrity offspring are getting work through sheer determination and talent, but then would they really be where they are if they were born in a middle-class family and their parents worked in a fast-food restaurant?
To understand nepotism in the Indian fashion industry we need to go back to a major incident that took place in an Indian fashion show. It was a legit example of nepotism ruling the industry. It was crystal clear that when one’s husband is the Chairman of the body organizing an Indian fashion show, the wife can be assured of a prime slot amongst ace Indian fashion designers even if her credibility as a designer is yet to be tested.
The Chairman of one of the very powerful fashion organizations in India introduced and placed his wife amongst ace Indian fashion designers in one of the most popular Indian fashion show. It was argued that the wife of the chairman had no prior experience of being a designer and was rejected at an applicant stage from many fashion shows.
In 2019, the obsession of having celebrity kids walk the ramp for designers in the Indian fashion industry grew ten folds.
Most recently criticism fell on Vogue magazine for featuring the 18-year-old daughter of Shah Rukh Khan on the cover. The social media users accused ‘Vogue India’ for putting Suhana Khan on the cover solely because she is the daughter of ‘The King of Bollywood’- Shah Rukh Khan. Suhana’s appearance on Vogue India has been harshly hit by claims of nepotism. Vogue is one of the most celebrated magazines of the Indian fashion industry, it usually reserves its cover for the most famous models, actors, singers around the world. However, Suhana Khan is yet to make her mark in any of the above-mentioned industries. This further promoted social media users to accuse Vogue India of putting her on the cover, as the world considered her not well deserved. Suhana’s appearance on the cover led to aggression among other fashion models in the country as they believed that no matter how much talent they have; getting a job in Vogue remains a dream whereas celebrity kids who have no credibility in fashion or Bollywood, are getting on the prestigious magazine cover.
Alaya Furniturewala is far from the least on the list. Alaya F daughter of Farhan Ebrahim Furniturewala and actress Pooja Bedi is an upcoming Indian actress and recently she walked the ramp at the Lakme Fashion Week for a leading fashion brand. She also made a magazine debut with Elle India’s February issue. This raised a question in the minds of many that, had she not grown up alongside Pooja Bedi, and had a childhood being surrounded by the Indian fashion industry, would she have become the face of the magazine?
The most criticized of all “nepotism” celebrities, of course, are Ibrahim Ali Khan and Ahaan Pandey, who faced serious criticism after a cover shoot and ramp walk respectively. These star kids are yet to establish their foot in the industries, but even before they do so, they have already gained magazines and ramp walks without much of a hard-work.
A famous fashion designer in India recently took social media by storm with his lengthy post about nepotism in the Indian fashion industry and how it’s being infected with something called “Bollywood Biggie”. The post is no more online and has been deleted, it precisely stated four things that, according to the famous fashion designer in India, can be the reason for the downfall of the Indian fashion industry–
1. Bollywoodisation of fashion
3. Sourcing outfits requests
This famous fashion designer of India brought the reality wide in front of people and expressed that it’s not just the Indian fashion industry that has to be accused, people are also somewhere at fault here. The designer explained that it’s high time the audiences understand that what you see in cinema is not fashion, it’s a mere costume created for a character on a brief, yet the publicity around it portrays it as fashion. He believes people need to understand and educate themselves about the difference between the two. He further expressed how nepotism has crept into the Indian fashion industry. Every famous fashion designer in India is eyeing for eye candy, and often star kids with little or no credibility make it to covers of prestigious fashion magazines. The designer somewhere talked about all the nepo kids including the new debutant Bollywood actor’s kids. The designer also mentioned about the practice of ‘sourcing outfits’ for celebrities before an event. He expressed how fashion designers with turnovers less than half the daily fee of celebrities are expected to provide their collections for red carpet appearances in exchange for publicity. The post raised some highly important issues that are truly plaguing the Indian fashion industry. He brought this issue to light that how fashion is being reduced to a mere offshoot of Bollywood.
There can be good examples of nepotism designers as well- one of them being the SGBG Atelier which is led by mother and son duo, Surya, and Bindu Giri. They are giving new shape to the industry by blending sharp tailoring with artisanal Indian handicrafts for a contemporary spin on traditional Indianwear. Another example is Ranjana Khan, who is the wife of Indian-American fashion designer, Naeem Khan. But she’s talented and making an identity of her own in the fashion industry with her namesake jewelry label. The list can not be complete without mentioning Masaba Gupta, the fashion designer is the daughter of Neena Gupta, she has transformed the shape of the Indian fashion industry, introduced neon to the country, and is a responsible designer. She recently announced that she will be producing masks as her contribution to the country’s battle against the virus. These are some of the designers who are actually using privilege for good. It’s anyway high time that models, star kids, designer’s wives or families make splashes of their own in the fashion industry.
The reality is hard to accept and with more celebrity children growing to the age that they can walk the ramp; we must expect to see more familiar faces across magazines and ramp walks of these celebrity star kids. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t talented. As long as they acknowledge their privilege and use it for good, the two sides of the modeling and fashion industry should be able to co-exist peacefully.
What are your views about nepotism in the fashion industry in India? What do you think about this blog, was it any help in clearing your thoughts about the status of nepotism in the fashion industry?
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