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India to launch first fashion trade show

India will host its first international fashion trade show following a long-awaited relaxation of the country’s retail investment laws last month.

Big Wheel, which will take place from March 13-15 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai, comes as major brands look to capitalise on India’s booming economy.

So far the organisers have announced that Tommy Hilfiger, Jack & Jones, Pepe Jeans London and Without Prejudice will be some of the brands exhibiting.

The show, organised jointly by Images Group and British firm Brandspoke, has the backing of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), UK Trade & Investment and the British High Commission. The event has also been positioned as the younger sister event to India Fashion Forum (IFF), the country’s largest fashion trade conference.

Brandspoke international director Michael Pike said: “We’re creating a platform where exhibitors will have access to India’s retail and manufacturing groups, and we’ll be able to work with companies on finding the right partner for their brand.”

Paul Alger, director of international affairs at UKFT, said those targeting the young men’s directional casual market would likely perform best at Big Wheel. The growing casual and streetwear market in India bodes well for entry to the market.

He said: “There is a hunger for Western brands, so UKFT has done its best to support the first Big Wheel by informing British brands such as Fred Perry about the opportunity.”

Three weeks ago, restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) previously preventing foreign retailers such as Nike and Gucci from controlling more than 51% of their Indian operations without an Indian partner, were lifted.

Under the new regulations, however, 30% of stock sold by a brand must be produced domestically.

The changes also mean Indian consumers will have more choice and the potential to outperform China before 2020.

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