Why India is Failing in the International Fashion circuit

It’s no surprise that despite a population that has steadily been a rising threat to the current champions, china, India has managed to become one of the fastest growing markets for global international fashion brands like Armani, Prada etc. And I am left wondering why it hasn’t been the other way round. We have been excusing the fashion industry of India for being very young in comparison to the London, Milan, Paris or New York industry. But as a growing economy we have probably had an upper hand when it came to financial push, marketing, advertising, global interest and most importantly extremely cheap labour.

5 reasons why I think Indian fashion has not been able to catch the attention of the world Fashion Industry:

Manish Arora SS 11, Paris
  1. The Indian garment/textile industry has labeled itself a manufacturing low-priced labour hub for a long time and we fail to focus on high fashion. Designers churn out mass produced designs rather than make quality designs. Even if they do, we have typecast ourselves pretty well for ‘the country that everyone outsources to.’ We have carved a niche only in that area and new designers who are willing to expand are not taken too seriously. The industry has a lot of people, old and young designers, but there are only a handful Manish Aroras who the fashion media is even willing to feature for his contribution to the fashion weeks.
  2. Indian designers are too busy aping the western trends and are therefore a season late for their collection to come on the ramp. Originality is hard to find. There are hardly any designers in India who follow the fashion forecast, and many don’t move on from the collection that made them popular.
  3. Which brings me to Indian designers refuse to take risks. By risks I don’t mean completely go crazy, but tread on murky waters at the least, and bring a change in your own style if you will. Designers make a signature style, and then don’t even innovate on that. Design is supposed to mean change, and if designers are not willing to do just that then hope is thin, extremely thin! The even the will to have marketing that can get noticed is low. “Play safe” isn’t what fashion has ever meant.
  4. Those who do have their own styles have not moved on from the ethnic kitsch being churned out every single year for the big fat Indian wedding which has now become positively obese and needs to slim down a bit. Ethnic themes are just fine, but it limits the aesthetic appeal to the global market in a very big way. We do hear occasionally about Madonna donning a sari, or a bindi may have found it way to Julia Robert’s forehead, but it is still not daily wear. There is nothing wrong in carving a niche for yourself, but Indian designers need to understand that the ethnic fever will only go so far (at least for now) and even if we were to be supremely optimistic, it would take another 20 years for Indian ethnic wear to come anywhere close to mass appeal. And till then brands like Galliano, McQueen will beat us hollow. They will and have already taken Indian motifs, prints, silhouettes and adapted them to their own aesthetics, a skill that we the Indian designers severely lack.
  5. Miley Cyrus in a Bindi
  6. Lastly, the kind of celebrity attraction that an international designer can garner, an Indian designer can only hope for. Designers in India are nothing more than expensive tailors; at least that’s what the majority believe. The last few years has seen a change in that attitude, but it is not much to look forward to. The celebrities have moved on from Indian designer the minute international designs become affordable and available. As the movie producers have started investing in international brands, I suppose even our celebrities have lost faith in the Indian brands. Or perhaps pride. So automatically the sheer power of trickle down theory stops right there, especially for a celebrity besotted country like ours. We literally worship our celebrities, and now that they have started wearing Prada, Elie Saab and Cavalli; and we have luxury spending money in our pockets, it is bound that the Indian design industry is going to suffer.

Unless of course we are willing to innovate, change and head out to the international market with a vengeance. International brands have in the last few years started opening stores in India, it is only time when we start at least attempting the same in a much more agressive way, till then we can only keep being the younger brother in the shadows  

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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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