It has been said many times over that fashion in India is still in its nascent ( infant) stage when compared to her western counterparts. I would say fashion in India has certainly crossed its nascent stage but the Indian impression and perception about fashion is warped. It is not that Indians do not know or comprehend what fashion all over the west is. They are certainly very aware in this genre but when it comes to themselves personally they prefer to stick to a comfort zone. Let us analyse why. Indians travel like there is no tomorrow. There is certainly a lot of cash flow and to say that India is a poor country where there are other more important issues is passed. The Indian consumer certainly is a buyer of top international brands but the number of people who purchase clothing from luxury brands is lesser than the ones who buy accessories. The reason being the Indian body structure does not call for international silhouettes and so there is a major preference for eyewear,bags,perfume and shoes. Garment wise we still stick to a familiar turf wherein the ethnic ensemble dominates our wardrobes. What may work for a buyer in Europe has to be slightly tweaked for somebody in India based on their utilitarian habits.
Indians may not possess the same pace of acceptance of a new product when compared to another buyer in a southeast Asian country. Indians do follow fashion but largely after seeking approvals or sometimes under peer pressure. It is always obvious that Indians implement the – I wear what I am comfortable in- attitude. Now comforts translate into habits and habits into stagnation and an inability to see themselves in anything apart from the tried and tested route. They do not still want to venture off the trodden path. While images all over our tabloids show us various ways to dress and the society pages are agog with celebrities being so experimental,it does not signify India as a whole. We cannot by and large say India is getting very fashionable just by seeing the upwordly mobile dressing upscale. It is the streets,the middle class and the common man or the woman who has to adopt fashion on a daily basis for a city or a country to boast about its fashion quotient.
Abroad as soon as a new style is unveiled,it is grabbed by everybody as daily fashion consciousness is the norm. In India we have far too many hurdles such as extreme conservatism, restrictions, self comforts and limitations and traditional approaches. Even food habits come in the way. Climatic conditions although debatable have an influence. We are a tropical country with hot weather round the year. You don’t really see people with suits, jackets and fur coats walking down the roads,bus and train stations. In colder countries the opposite is the sight. There is something so visually impactful and arresting about global dressing. In India,we have to admit that mostly people dress to cover their physical flaws or hide themselves. Celebration of the physique is not the norm here neither is showing off fashion as much it is elsewhere. Yet it cannot be undermined that India is looking ahead slowly but surely.
Professor at Lakhotia Institute of Design