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Indian sensibilities on a global fashion map

Indian sensibilities on a global fashion map

The global fashion map is expanding. New York, Milan, London and Paris are fast acquiring siblings. The endless list of fashion whiz kids from countries like Korea, China and India is slowly growing up to become the next pool of icons. Multicultural sensibilities are being accepted as mainstream fashion staple. Asian lines are crossing over to the western ramp. Lines are blurring.

Back home in India, we are no longer just production guys. We are better than that. Of course, we have an inimitable skill base of handwork. And of course, our labour costs one fourth, or even lesser, than our western counterparts. Our history of royal grandeur spells opulence and luxury since ages. We match primary colours with secondary, secondary with tertiary and so forth like a six-year-old with a Masters skill. Even before drapery and draping hits us as a subject in design school we never really manage to escape mythological imagery on calendars, regional dance costumes or the sari (remember… the aunty next door..). It has been all around us, without thrilling us and with a matter of fact existence.

But we are no more just ‘Inspiration India’. We are slightly better than that. With every Sabyasachi collection parading on New York Fashion Week and Manish Arora’s butterfly dress flying at Paris Fashion Week, we are moving towards an international stage. With the unstitched label named India, under the sharp scrutinizing eyes of fashion intelligentsia, we are slithering, inch-by-inch, towards a breakthrough. So now, we can produce as well as design. For the market that is: world.

What next? It would be harsh and incorrect to judge the impact of where we come from on the things we do. Nonetheless personal musings would do no harm. Maybe India as a tag attached with Indian designers speaks of identity and responsibility but maybe it speaks of predictability as well. The strength of our roots probably keeps us grounded but nonetheless tied. Tied to our non-existent limitations. What should remain an invisible backbone of aesthetics functions as an obvious tag for compartmentalization. At any platform of fashion, we perform, as well as we are expected to. Or maybe not. Maybe we are just as good as our strengths are. Who decides the standard of a discipline anyway and is there anything really to prove? Even though it is more likely that a ‘Sherwani’ is cut in brocade and not tweed, it is essentially a jacket. So, does it need to look up to an Italian jacket or like an overwhelmed poor cousin? Debatable yet, thought provoking.

Let us try to see it from a different angle. Would the ‘sari’ be more coveted if it makes it to the red carpet as it is? Or would a western interpretation of it somehow punctuate the importance of the ensemble? Debatable again. Probably, if born in Greece, the ‘sari’ would manage to escape the tag of ‘ethnic’. It would be another Goddess-drape evening number, perhaps less cumbersome than couture gowns!

For sure, Indian fashion has come a long way and there is still a long way to go. But we are getting there. Indian designers will grow out of the mood board of India collective. Probably we will grow more with the conviction in oneself to excel and contribute to fashion, design and clothing rather than looking for acknowledgement, acceptance and appreciation in a separate model of aesthetic sensibility…



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