Dubai is possibly the most glamorous of cities — with a rich South Asian diaspora, it is a melting pot of colors and creativity. With the boom of Dubai really beginning in the 1970s, that is where the SoPritti story begins.
Thrice a year, SoPritti brings together some of the biggest names in South Asian fashion and lifestyle under the same roof in Dubai. The events are highly sought after by both; exhibitors and visitors.So what is it that gets the city so excited about a fashion exhibition? The secret lies in the nuanced understanding of the South Asian market by the woman behind the event — Pritti Nanda.
A pioneer in the social and event business, Pritti Nanda started her career with corporate events and family fairs in the 80s and 90s. She also hosted fashion shows with prominent Indian designers and choreographers, often flying down superstars to walk the ramp, including the likes of Lara Dutta, Bipasha Basu and Shamik Dawar.
With the next SoPritti event scheduled for 19'ʰ March 2022, we sat down with the woman behind the phenomenon — Pritti Nanda - to get an idea of why it is so successful.
Where did the idea of SoPritti events come from?
Despite having such a successful and fashionable south Asian diaspora, Dubai never had any single location or event where shoppers (who are very discerning) could get the latest wares. So the idea of a well curated multi brand exhibition was born - similar to the lines gaining popularity in India and Pakistan.
We were very lucky to have prominent and popular Indian designers at our very first event which helped us boost our image locally in Dubai. These included Vikram Phadnis, Masaba Gupta and Rimple and Harpreet Narula. Over the years we have hosted hundreds of top designers including Tarun Tahiliani, Rizwan Beyg, Rina Dhaka, Varun Bahl, Shyamal & Bhumika, Ayesha Farook Hashwani, Ayesha Somaya and so many more! As a testament to our service and following, every top designer has come back to participate with us multiple times!
What is the best (and worst) part of working in the fashion event space?
Best — the people and energy. We have very senior as well as up and coming designers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and it's a treat. Especially watching an upcoming designer who we had faith in or really liked their style do 1-2 exhibitions with us and then they blow up. Watching their career path is very satisfying. And even once they are really big they still come back and work with us.
Worst — just like all events, the unpredictable nature of our industry. No matter what you do, something out of your control can happen. The global pandemic was a big one — it affected us and our exhibitors badly. We lost 4 full events. Once very early in our journey there was an international cycle race that passed right through downtown Dubai, they closed the road in front of our event for 3 hours. No shoppers could come in!
Do you think South Asian fashion has the potential to go global in a big way?
100%!! With our actors and actresses going global, they want to represent their heritage on the international stage. And we definitely have designers that are more than talented to step-up. Further in the last 2-3 years some of the big labels have had corporate buyouts/investments. This will make a big difference as currently the biggest labels in South Asia cannot keep up with domestic demand so going global would have been more of a logistical challenge, but hopefully not anymore.
The SoPritti team is led by powerhouse women. Does it ever becoming challenging for strong women to work together?
I will have to say we are lucky that the answer is no. We understand each other's strengths and compliment each other very well.
What advice would you give to young women at the start of their careers?
Find a niche. You may like an industry/activity idea but make it yours by not following the crowd. This way you will have a unique product and subsequently your own market.
The Ramadan Edit of SoPritti is taking place on 19’ʰ March 2022 at the Godolphin Ballroom, Emirates Tower, Dubai and will feature luxury Eid wear and statement jewelry by some of the biggest names in fashion in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.