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“Indian Fashion Industry….still in infancy?”

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

                                                                                                       Coco Channel

                                                                                      (French Fashion Designer)

As Coco defines it aptly, my perception about the meaning of the word “fashion” changes. The word encompasses more than what we usually think about it.Recently, I read a blog on Indian Fashion Industry written by a leading blogger. He says,Indian Fashion industry is still in its infancy. But going by what Coco says, I have a contradictory view with respect to that of the blogger. Indians live on the land that has seen tons of transformations. From Aryans, mughals to British and Portuguese, the evasions and colonialism have kept the dynamics of the fashion industry at its peak pace. So for sure,Indian fashion industry is not at all at its infancy. It can be given the analogy of a matured middle aged woman enriched with worldly experience who has seen lot of ebbs and highs in her life.

Going back  in 2500 BC , at Mohenjo-Daro( Today’s Pakistan),who would imagine that, a voluptuous figured girl giving a pose just like a model gives at a renowned  fashion show in Mumbai in 2018. During an excavation, a beautiful idol of a girl was exhumed at Mohenjo-Daro. The girl was found to be standing in a stunning pose, usually given by model during rampwalk..

dancing girl

That idol is famously referred to as a “Dancing Girl” by historians.

dancing girl mojit

1. The Dancing Girl in a stunning pose Mohenjo-Daro (2500 BC) Source:

India played a great role in being one of the big destinations on silk route which gave rise to hybrid trends in fashion characterized by amalgam of different cultures. Moving further ahead,in mughalera(1500AD) , the attars and perfumes produced and used in India exuded soothing and refreshing fragrance across the globe. The chemical compositions of these perfumes with natural aromas were emulated across the world. These days Fashion designers often visit caves like Ajanta and Ellora(200 BC), to study the drawings of human beings from caves with an objective to design and launch new set of jewelry set or relaunch the centuries old obsolete clothing style again in market. These paintings clearly illustrate myriad of modern fashion elements such as delicate translucent see-through fabrics, heavy jacquards, glazing silks, patterned textiles, embellishments, block prints, ornate jewellery and feather-lite accessories like hair ribbons and all of these combined together in the most imaginative sense of elitist styling.

fashion industry

Opulent Palaces across Rajasthan is a regular visit place for people designing jewelry or hairstyles for Bollywood Divas(They can study wall paintings of royal families and hence derive hairstyles of that period).The famous tales of beauty of Indian queens urges me to do research on how much time did queens spend in doing makeups and what all products did they use then, to look beautiful. All these examples depict the fact that, Indian fashion has its own special and significance existence and there is a lot for us for being proud and pompous about instead of blindly emulating western trends in fashion.

When everything was gung ho, the colonialism and the Industrialization happened and Indian traditional fashion suffered a big setback. Indian elite class, which was a proponent of Indian ethnic ,traditional wear took interest in British and European trends in fashion. Every Indian wanted to look like Gora saahib and memsahib. Industrialization and exploitation of Indian skilled workers made sure that, traditional clothes became costly, and middle class could not afford to buy it. This lead to extinction of hand woven clothing and rest is the history.

.Moving further ahead, FDI inflows post economic liberalization ensured that foreign brands were launched in India. Demography became younger. Globalization, had direct impact on lifestyle and  trends in fashion in urban India..Use of premium foreign brand outfits became status symbol among elites. Because of Growing purchasing power and craze of bollywood, Middle class young demography also started using the foreign brands. This trend percolated down to rural demography(which has been around 60-65%). Bollywood and other regional film industries played a huge role in shaping the fashion predisposition of Indians. The customized fashion (Viz.Sportswear, Party wear ,business wear) also  became popular in Indian consumers. Fusion of western and Indian styles gave birth to Indo Western apparels. All this lead to a healthy consumerism in fashion Industry in India.

Today,India is the third largest producer of cotton, second largest producer of silk and fifth largest producer of synthetic fibers. Fashion is now a Rs 20000 Cr net worth industry out of which 25% is branded fashion market. Most of the fashion industry operates as an unorganized sector. Indian population which constitutes to 18 % of the world’s population is a huge market and a big driver of global trends in fashion. Every second brand across the globe aspires to enter Indian market. The industry is expected to grow at over 10%. Each of these sentences in this paragraph shows the mammoth potential that exists in Indian fashion market.

With all the big numbers and the statistics to be pompous about, Indian fashion industry accounts for 0.2% of the total world industry’s net worth.  These shocking statistics are in itself an area of research. Inefficient working of the unorganized fashion sector, supply chain and logistics constraints, slow adoption of technological advancements, infrastructural drawbacks could be some of the key reasons for the same. However, the healthy consumerism of this 18% of world’s population will make sure that the Industry will rise above all the constraints and become a biggest trendsetter of the universe with its rich culture,tradition and heritage.         

As Joan Smalls rightly put it,

“Fashion is a part of our culture and It is more than just a pretty dress”

By: Pranav Kahalekar

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