India is a country with diversified customs and cultures. People following various traditions live here, their way of dressing also differ from each other. The traces of Indians being fashionable can be found out from the ancient remains of Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations. After the independence, globalization is being witnessed in the Indian fashion industry, due to which changes have occurred in the style of Indian dressing.
Styles of wearing saris and salwar-kameez have changed. The look is more cosmopolitan than region-specific. Different styles of blouses like katori style, halter-neck, back button blouses, high neck blouses, puffed sleeve blouses, etc. have become the hot favorite among women. The average lengths of the blouses have decreased. Saris are draped mostly in traditional back pallo style or gujarati style. Indian fashion scene is greatly influenced by its films. For example Mumtaz style sari draping inspired by yester-year heroine Mumtaz. Here sari is tightly draped around the body.
As far as salwar-kameez is concerned numerous styles and patterns can be given to this garment. For instance the kameez can be long, short, A-line, skin tight, etc. Such variations can be done to salwar as well as dupattas. Modern version of kameez is known as kurti, it could be coupled with jeans, pants or churidar. It has taken the form of Indo-western outfit. People in western countries too have started wearing kurtis.
Emergence of mall culture
Mall culture is slowly and steadily growing in India. Many brands and private labels are launched in the Indian market. The first such retail outlet was Shopper's Stop which launched India's first multi-brand store in the year 1993. The specialty of such malls is that they offer a wide range of varied branded stuff, all under single roof. Some of the famous malls of India are Pantaloons, Westside, Lifestyle, Globus, etc. These retail outlets have also launched clothing line under private labels, manufactured and sold by them. For example- Pantaloons has many private labels under its brand like All, Fashion station and Mela. Some of the major private labels even operate as exclusive stores. The buyer gets an international shopping experience in such retail outlets. There are no nagging sales persons pressurizing the customers to buy.
Family stores are becoming hot favorite shopping hub for the middle-class and upper middle class shoppers. These stores sell garments of nearly all age groups and sexes. Apparels of various brands can be found in family stores. They are being considered as one-stop shopping destination. Roopam, Big Bazaar, Fashion station, V-mart, Maxx, etc are examples of some family stores.
Another aspect seen in the changing face of Indian garment industry is the increasing popularity of 'Boutiques'. A boutique is a small shop or departmental store selling designer, unique and trendy products. A wide range of items can be displayed in a boutique like watches, lingeries, evening wear, sportswear, t-shirts, tuxedos, etc. Boutiques are generally specialty stores. Exclusive designer items can be purchased from such stores. High profile designers of India mainly merchandise through their personal boutiques.
However it is not mandatory that only famous designer open a boutique. Even common person could do it and make it big in this field. It could be started even with small investment of money. More and more Indians are inclining towards designer wear outfits due to increase in income of the people. India's first boutique was opened in Mumbai in 1965 named 'Dagina' by Mr. Chandu Morarjee. Boutiques are operated both online and offline, this concept is yielding positive outcome for the retailers.
The emergence of fashion boutiques started of from Mumbai, them spreading onto Delhi, Chennai and other metropolitan and big cities of India. Also to support this concept, art galleries came up which usually showcase either ready-to-wear or ready-to-stitch garments. India's first art gallery was opened by Gunvanti Vilji in Mumbai in 1972 under the name 'Aakar art gallery'.
These fashion stores or designer boutiques display items which cannot be found in common retail malls or shops. These specialty stores even make customized garments that are made to order. Some time back only rich and famous people were customers of such boutiques, but now due to increasing demand of designer outfits more and more fashions stores are opening up.
A new genre of talented housewife developed who used to design designer outfit under their own private label. These are the designers whose clientele ranges from a common Indians to the affluent class people.
The next step in retail concept was the surfacing of 'Fashion Houses', which are headed by eminent designers. Ensemble was the first fashion house of India founded in 1987. The collections available in these outlets have very high price tag which could be afforded by the rich customers only.
Advent of brands
The market of branded garments is growing up in India. More and more people are switching on to branded apparel then non-branded ones as it provide quality assurance. Liberty shirts was the first company to sell shirts under its brand name in India during 1950's. Then there was no looking back for the branded apparel market.
Many national as well as international brands have established themselves in Indian garment industry. Allen solly, Van Heusen, Louis Philipe, Charagh Din, Raymonds, Arrow, etc. are some leading national brands. The branded apparel market saw a boost due to growing denim demand. Many international brands entered the denim industry in India like- Lee, Levi's, Seven Jeans, Pepe Jeans, etc. But these foreign brands get a tough competition from Indian branded denim manufacturers like Flying Machine, Wrangler, Killer, Numero Uno, etc. Branded clothes have captivated the market of both menswear and women's wear and slowly catching up in childrenwear segment. The Indian consumer has become brand conscious which is a sign of globalization of Indian apparel industry.
Fashion on the ramp
Displaying clothes through fashion shows is a western concept but now have become a common fashion event in India. In fashion catwalk the models display the collection of designers on ramp. In 1932 the first fashion catwalk was organized in India at Taj Mahal hotel by Catherine Courtney. Fashion catwalk in India was started by Sylla and Nergish, the Spencer sisters. Now many conceptual, theme based fashion shows are being held in contrast to simpler forms of catwalk of yester years.
In India the popularity of beauty pageants have increased, especially Miss India contests. It has widely influenced the Indian fashion scenario. These contests are sponsored by leading companies related to textile, apparel, fashion and media.
Miss India contest was first held in 1964 which was organized by Femina group. Reita Faria was the first Miss India to won international title of Miss World in 1966. She was followed by Zeenat Amaan winning the crown of Miss Asia-Pacific in 1970. Further the beauties who made it to the international beauty titles were Sushmita Sen ( Miss Universe 1994), Aishwarya Rai (Miss World 1994), Diana Hayden (Miss World 1997), Yukta Mookhey (Miss World 1999), Lara Dutta (Miss Universe 2000), Priyanka Chopra ( Miss World 2000) and Dia Mirza ( Miss Asia-Pacific 2000). Eminent designers display their collection through the stunning outfits worn by these beauties. Indian fashion got international exposure and acclamation through the medium of such beauty contests.
Indians have started experimenting with fashion trends and styles, they are all geared up for the international exposure. This fact can be proved by the existence of 80+ odd small and big fashion schools in India. Thousands of designers are produced every year by these institutes. Designers are getting exposure through fashion weeks, here they can show their talent to Indian and foreign audience.
These fashion weeks have contributed to the change in style preference especially in womenswear. Indo-western or fusionwear is the most preferred manner of dressing gaining popularity globally. Pure traditional outfits are worn on special occasions only. Earlier buying designer wear outfit was a very costly affair and upper class people could only afford them. But now it is possible for the common people to wear designer clothes, this change occurred due to popularity of diffusion of fashion.
Indian fashion industry has come at par with international standards. It has become one of the most happening and revenue generating industry of India. The people like to dress in style which is accepted globally. Dressing has become of the important aspect of one's identity and personality.
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