India is a nation with an ancient tradition of clothing design, and it is as much an emerging fashion destination, says RC Dalal.
In spite of its overwhelming presence in newspapers, magazines and on television, the fashion industry in India is young. The first professional fashion show was held in this country just over 20 years ago.
The word 'fashion' brings on images of glamour. The onset of the worldwide fashion market in India has given a thrust to the fashion industry. This has attracted so many young people to this industry.
Today, there are a couple of hundred Indian fashion designers peddling designs and wares. Some are well known and are expanding, slowly but surely, into the international market. India's romance with fashion design has just begun and is bound to grow by leaps and bounds. Glamour has caught on. Young women want to emulate models and the designer wear of Hindi film stars.
Fusion of Indian and western looks are all the rage. Then, there is everything from pure ethnic wear, highly suitable for Indian bridal collections to purely Western style designer wear for the red carpet. India loves fashion!
India hosts its own fashion weeks in Delhi and Mumbai which seem to be getting bigger and better every year. The names are getting known as well - Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Kumar, Manish Malhotra, Ritu Beri, Manish Arora, Satya Paul, Rocky S --- the list just keeps growing.
The Indian fashion industry is expected to reach US$ 400 million in a couple of years with vigorous growth of over 10 per cent year-on-year. While this is tiny compared to the global industry, it is not too bad for an industry in this stage of infancy.
The reason India's fashion industry will have a bright future is that it has a large young population. This, combined with increasing disposable incomes, has led to an increase in consumerism. So, those who can afford are looking for high quality and originality. They love brand names. Hence, we can say that the future of fashion industry in India looks promising.
This industry offers an abundance of opportunities for artistic, hard-working and enthusiastic people. The scenario for fashion design graduates looks good, thanks to the enormous and still increasing demand for stylish clothes and the quantity of exports.
After successful accomplishment of the graduate course, one can be self-employed. On the other hand, several garment store chains, export houses, leather companies, textile mills, boutiques, fashion show organizers and jewellery houses recruit professionals fascinated with a career in fashion designing.
Challenge: Can we go global?
The fashion industry relies a lot on India's authentic, beautiful history and rich, diverse culture, to make its unique clothing. Growing recognition of this industry, which hinges on its cultural style, has many of us wondering just when and if the Indian fashion industry will get the green light to go international.
The Indian fashion industry is still in its early years. Lakme Fashion Week has been running for 13 successive years. In markets such as New York, Milan and Paris, the fashion industry was established decades ago. The Indian fashion industry can still nurture and push its popularity, but it may take a bit more to establish itself and its roots internationally. The clothing made by the country's elite fashion designers is not only beautiful, but unique, exquisite, and one-of-a-kind.
Time will tell when the fashion industry will break that international barrier.
About the author
RC Dalal is executive director of JD Institute of Fashion Technology.