In times of skyrocketing rents and the rising mall culture that can act as major deterrents for the growth of aspiring designers, it is vital for young creative thinkers to have hands-on learning experience and vital business, International College of Fashion (ICF) chief mentor Vani Bajaj said.

"The fashion weeks are for sure a great help. The first step that the students take is by assisting the designers while they exhibit their collections. This not only helps them understand the thought process behind a designer's collection, but also helps them understand how to handle the customers,” Bajaaj said.

"As they take to this understanding over the fashion weeks that are held, they also start forming their own business plans. The students are able to establish contacts with the people, which serves as a guide when they set out to start their own ventures," Bajaj added.

Another beacon of hope for aspirants is exhibitions. Any platform that enhances the business is always a welcome note for an entrepreneur. Designer hubs, exhibitions, fashion weeks, multi-brand outlets and online fashion retail, have all emerged to play a very important role within the business of fashion.

"Some of these platforms are more popular amongst the upcoming designers or retail brands as they are a lot more affordable and require less seed money for start-ups. Exhibitions provide the upcoming designers an access to the target market and buyers," Bajaj said.

Launched in 2009 and promoted by the Bajaj Capital Group, the idea behind ICF was to bridge the gap between designers and business professionals. The institute here offers three courses - BBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship (three years), MBA in Fashion Entrepreneurship (two years) and PG Diploma in Fashion Entrepreneurship (one year).

"The courses are designed to link creative thinking with business thinking in order to nurture creative and flexible entrepreneurs and creators of change," Bajaj explained, and added that their courses attract those who are keen to launch their signature labels.

At ICF, only 25 students make it to each course every year. Overall, the idea is to produce entrepreneurs who can design collections with the ability to brand, market and sell them well to the target market.

"ICF prepares young design professionals, not to compete with the established designer, but to compliment them," said Bajaj.


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