From riches to rags- What went wrong for Internationally acclaimed Indian Fashion designer Manish Arora?

Hailed as the “John Galliano of India,” designer Manish Arora is quite a big name in the fashion fraternity, both Indian as well as international. Known for his electric style and eccentric colour palette, the designer started out in 2001, made his international debut in London in 2005, and made the country proud with an Indian representation in the international fashion circuit. Setting examples for the young and aspiring designers, Manish became the first Indian fashion designer to make it big in Paris as he turned creative director of the French fashion house Paco Rabanne in 2011. He produced two seasons for the brand before quitting to focus on his label which later diversified into eyewear, home wear and cosmetics. Over the years the designer collaborated with big brands like Nespresso, Swarovski, Swatch, and Reebok which was a first for a homegrown label.

Recently in September, Manish announced his new pop-up restaurant in his adopted home-town Paris. Days later the designer announced a big fashion collaboration with Amazon India alongside designers JJ Valaya, Ashish Soni, and Suneet Varma. Although what might look like his brand expansion is actually nothing more than a feeble attempt to save this failing business caused by years of financial troubles, as reported by the New York Times.

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So, what went wrong? According to NYT publication’s detailed piece, his ‘messy downfall’ has been a result of years of deals gone bad, unpaid wages lawsuits and vendor disputes before Coronavirus put the final nail in the coffin. Many karigars, modeling agencies and ex-employees came forward and told the publication that they begged the designer to clear their unpaid dues and compensate for the overtime hours invested. They also opened up on how Manish made artisans curate dozens of Burning Man outfits for himself, spent lavishly on his vacations, all while the business was suffering and salaries were late. From early 2018, the company stopped paying into Provident Fund accounts as well.

As of now, things are quite difficult for the designer and his brand. His last spring 2020 runway show was exhibited a year ago and the pieces from the past seasons are sold at a heavily discounted price. The Manish Arora store in Paris has been closed and its online website is under maintenance. Earlier this year, Manish parted ways with his business partner for decades, Deepak Bhagwani and according to Bhagwani, the French holding company for Mr. Arora’s Indian subsidiary went into liquidation in July.

What started as a global ambitious brand, fell prey to outrageously expensive fashion shows, flamboyant parties, and overproduction of items that were not in demand. 

“Fifteen years ago, Manish was almost seen like a god here for being the first Indian fashion designer to break into the global luxury market,” said Sunil Sethi, the president of the Fashion Design Council of India. “Big international brand names wanted to collaborate with him. We were just so proud. And as the international fashion industry looked at Indian talent in a new light, we wondered whether more Indian designers would follow in his footsteps to the catwalks of Europe,” said Mr. Sethi. However, it seems, all that glitters is definitely not gold!

(Source-New York Times)