Fashion and India, Part 2

The Second part of the Article which you can read HERE

Simone Tata with JRD Tata,  Photo credit
It would be wrong to say that the industry had not existed before the late 80’s. And it would be probably worse if I was to say India did not have a proper fashion show until the 2000’s. There is Jeannie Naoroji The ‘Godmother of fashion shows in India’; who initiated the first wave of fashion shows in India and is responsible for making them professional, as early as 1958, but then they were not what we know of fashion shows today. The fashion shows were held for entertainment purposes more than any things else. “The shows had a lot of tamasha. We’d recreate the ballroom scene or have a ballet,” reminisces Naoroji. “Among those who came to see the initial shows was Simone Tata, who’d joined cosmetic brand Lakmé (started in 1952). She wanted to see if these could help promote Lakmé,” says Naoroji.

The legendary Spencer Sisters, Sylla and Nergish pioneered the early forms of fashion catwalk as we know it today and the India’s first boutique was opened in Mumbai in 1965 named ‘Dagina’ by Mr. Chandu Morarjee, but it was only in the nineties that Indian designers actually made a niche for themselves. Designers like Ranna Gill, Rohit khosla, Rohit Bal, J.J. Valaya, started their solo shows, having to work on everything, the styling, the music, fixing up the venue, choreography; for which we now have dedicated staff during the show. With FDCI (Fashion Design Council ofIndia) forming as a business industry association of designers only about a decade ago, it has a lot to look forward to. There are dedicated courses and colleges (NIFT) that offer higher education in fashion entrepreneurship and the technical knowhow. A lot of designers like Manish Arora, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rajesh Pratap Singh, etc. have now started participating in International Fashion Weeks and been appreciated there too.

The Famous Tere Naam Hairstyle, Even Buffaloes Loved it
For a country which gets about 15 % of its total exports from its apparel industry, India is definitely on the way up as far as garment industry is concerned. On the downside though, Bollywood is still a major puller for the masses, of making style statements. There are no clear fashion designers who are influencing the market at large. The Movie stylists are however doing much better. Even today with all the media, a Shahrukh Khan’s outdated sunglass would attract a stronger follower group than even somebody as famous as a Ritu Kumar showing a fabulous pattern of a blouse with mind blowing embroidery on the ramp in a major fashion week. The masses in India are still highly influenced by trickle-down markets. It is not as if things have to change, after all international brands have started making a huge entry into the Indian market.  And they have really made difference to at least where the rich and famous shop. They don't have to fly to London or Paris, every time they want to show off their immaculate international style, and caliber to afford international designers But there is still time before the wave of fashion growth will rise as high as say a Milan or Paris.  The mofussil India is still to fall into the Fashion cycle. Short skirts and sleeveless has to struggle even now to make it to many parts of India, owing to the psyche of Suburban, rural and even many urban parts of India.

The fact is that no matter how optimistically some people may place India on the fashion map, the people in India still have to understand the fashion industry, the designers have to stop aping the west or get stuck in what the west assumes India is capable of. The west has to recognise India as not only a land of cheap outsourced export and manufacturing units, but also a formidable competition in terms of design and innovation too. And the day that the “Indian fashion weeks”, are noticed by international buyers (and not in the small amounts as now), and gets into their calenders, is still slightly far.

The Hindu
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About Aparna Mudi

Aparna is a fashion graduate from NIFT, New Delhi. She has a passion for writing about everything under the sun, especially about fashion and lifestyle.

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