Last weekend, I binge-watched Netflix‘s Bad Boy Billionaires: India and I must admit that I was pretty late to the party. But I could barely make sense of what I’d seen. Sure, I was keeping up with the news about these powerful men and their failed empires, but these episodes quite literally put things into perspective. And before I could even digest it, came Manish Arora. The designer made it to the headlines yet again, but this time, it was for something absolutely no one saw coming—bankruptcy and liquidation of the business. It was quite flabbergasting especially since he was just in the news for announcing the launch of his pop-up restaurant in the city of Paris only 2 months ago. Scroll below for more details.
If you follow Arora’s work, then you’ll know that his approach towards fashion is mostly bold and Avant-Garde. ‘More is more’ is his unspoken motto and the designer brings his vision to life in the most extravagant and lavish ways possible. He wasn’t called the John Galliano of India for no reason. The fashion fraternity put him on a pedestal back in the 2000s when he showcased for the very first time at London Fashion Week. 2005 to be exact. Then in 2011, the designer bagged yet another achievement in his kitty of talents—being appointed as the creative director of Paco Rabanne. He headed the Spanish brand for almost a year, producing collections for two seasons, before quitting to further grow his eponymous label.
Living in a lavish apartment in Paris, Arora sure was flourishing as The designer on the block. Apart from couture, he had his toes dipped in prêt, Indian-wear, cosmetics, sports-wear and more. In 2009, Arora launched his sports-wear line Fish Fry in collaboration with Reebok. In 2012, shortly after his brief journey at Paco Rabbane, the designer joined hands with Biba who took 51% stake in his label Indian By Manish Arora. The venture came to an end in 2017. According to sources, the shutting down of his collaborative brand was ugly and involved delayed salaries to absolutely no payment of the employees and workers.
Earlier this year, Arora parted ways with his long time business partner, Deepak Bhagwani. The Manish Arora website currently says it’s under maintenance, the Paris store has closed its doors and the French-holding company for the Indian subsidiary is in the liquidation process, circa July 2020. The label is also tackling several lawsuits from vendors and employees over unpaid wages and salaries. What worsens the situation is also not taking into consideration the outrageous amount of overtime of the artisans. Moreover, employees’ have also stopped receiving their Provident Funds since 2018.
What sparks the confusion is the decision of going through with the launch of his Paris restaurant just months after the liquidation process began. Furthermore, why was the designer seen sharing pictures of his vacations while his workers and employees were unpaid. Or that the already not-enough-represented karigars had to work overtime in obscene amounts to design Arora’s personal outfits for The Burning Man—a music festival, all while Arora was well aware of his and his company’s financial situation.
Throughout his career, Arora has been in the spotlight not just for his whimsical and fantastical fashion shows, but also for his collaborations. Namely Swarovski, Swatch and more. However, 2017 onwards was when things started looking down for the designer. Years of mismanagement and debts started catching up with him. And the extravagant collaborations were, in-disguise, attempts at damage control. He last showcased his spring 2020 ready-to-wear collection, We Are Family in Paris and an elaborate and a dreamy showcase of the same at Lakmé Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020.
For the last couple of years, the cries of the workers and employees have gone unheard. A former employee, in an interview with The New York Times, said: The lawsuits fell on deaf years. Apart from that, Manish Arora designs are currently on heavy discounts, in another attempt to raise money.
The designer has been unavailable to comment on any of the matters. However, the move to finally file for bankruptcy and the liquidation of his business has made way for one question. Will the unpaid get their dues and when? We certainly hope for the best!
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