the bakery

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

walking the line


When I started Fashion Rookies' Jar I was, in a way, looking to express what it is like to be part of fashion in India. There are a lot of misconceptions and often no opinion at all of what my country's style quotient is all about. It is very unfortunate that the Indian culture that often provides inspiration to designers, stylists, fashionistas, etc. abroad fails to find proper representation of the current fashion scene. Truth is that it is practically impossible to slot Indian fashion especially street style, mainly because there is no homogeneity in any urban community. While my peers and I may be able to recognise a lot of international fashion names, we also, shamefacedly, sometimes look down upon the Indian fashion scene for not being 'with it' enough. Similarly we face criticism and are misunderstood for 'westerners' because of our outlook and dressing sense. I'l be honest whatever I do, even if I do manage to draw that fine line between indigenous and foreign, I'l always feel like little bit of an outsider. Nonsense on stilettos was on the lookout for a blog by an Indian author in India. She happened to spot me and has featured me with much excitement on her blog. Sure, I'm thankful but it is a little discomforting to be the only one. So far.
Correction: I'm not the only one! In fact Nonsense on stilettos herself had already set the ball rolling on fashionable Indian blogs!

7 comments:

Blue Floppy Hat said...

To be fair, sometimes it's very hard to really get excited about design trends that don't really have much relevance to the life of a girl in urban India- face it, Ritu Kumar/Satya Paul etc may make gorgeous clothes, but unless you're perpetually attending weddings or socialising, what's the use to us? A lot of them focus on traditional designs because those sell, but design issues aside, it's often easier to get hold of amazing textiles and traditional outfits for much much less than the designer prices- and with comparable quality.
And there's also the issue of what in the world the fashion industry here thinks it's doing, picking trends off the international runway two years after they hit those- leggings are now supposed to be big news here, which means only one thing- eyesores. Where is the originality? When that comes along it's always well appreciated- Sabyasachi Mukherjee being just one case in point. Flair (Manish Arora) goes down well with people too, as does restraint (Rajesh Pratap Singh)- but fashion design, in the way we understand it, doesn't have much of a history here despite the thousands of years worth of textile history.
It really isn't about being with it at all. One should never have to apologise for calling out incompetence- I'll believe things are getting truly professional if they ditch the Bollywood runway guest apearances.

indi said...

you know i agree with you that there are designers who assume that using traditional textiles and rich embroidery may make up their design skills or lack thereof. but i suppose they have a large market for their offerings because ritu kumar stores wouldn’t be popping up every where you look. if the saree seems uncomfortable for daily wear so are six inch platforms! But they both sell. it can be very confusing for indian designers when it comes to choosing their target market, and this choice often dictates the direction of their collection. what sells in india might be considered loud elsewhere. we have a rich textile history but our fashion contribution has only just begun. we have poor sources to follow international fashion, the lack of originality and blatant flouting of copyrights makes me cringe too. but there is going to be trial and error before we find our footing. i would not want to apologise for pointing out something that is truly appalling like the bollywood appearances but i also think we should be a little more tolerant of indian fashion. I believe you must’ve read the Indian vogue- a ferragamo clutch for 4 lakhs, for all you know it was made right here in India, Chennai for rs. 400. people everywhere mumbai, milan, paris, london might feel that they could come up with what they see on the runway for a lot less money. Point is that the designers are the ones who put forth the idea of using those exact textures, fabrics, colours together.
I don’t know why but sometimes I feel a little guilty, what gave me the right to feel a slight superior edge over the Indian fashion scene. I hope you agree with me that this is just a healthy debate and what we definitely have in common is our passion for fashion, Indian or otherwise.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Yay I like debates!
Saris and platform heels have their own takers- some women find them easier to wear and get around in than anything else. It's all down to individual comfort levels, really. Saris and other traditional clothes, in my opinion, are really beyond fashion in one sense.But fashion must develop, otherwise we'd look no different from our grandparents. And it does, but the question is- how much of that growth comes from the design industry? Bollywood still seems to be the major trend driver across the country, and the fact that they sometimes collaborate with designers to get the look of a film down is something I see as a positive sign, but the fact seems to be that high-end apparel here doesn't really seem to have much public recall. It's something I put down to the lack of organised funding (half the brands we know seem to be owned by LVMH, the other half by the Gucci Group, but nothing on that scale exists in India). Ergo, no funds for advertising, and as a consequence not much public knowledge of what a designer's brand is about.
I get your point about the industry still being in a bit of a nascent stage, it can't be easy for designers to really get their ideas straight, but I do sometimes wish they'd just figure out what they want to do with their collections, and get beyond thinking of the country and the women they're designing for in terms of clich├ęs. And I'd like better coverage of the Fashion weeks too, it's annoying to trawl the net and the local papers to find nothing but some pictures and reviews.
Re: your point about designers not just existing to sell clothes but also to provide inspiration- you're right. The only trouble is, I don't really find much that is actually inspirational about Indian fashion design- though that may be just a personal thing since I'm not fond of fussy clothes and no country in the world does fussy clothes better than us- I may never be able to look at it objectively because of my own preferences.
Oh, and since you asked, I'm from Calcutta.

indi said...

yikes! look at the size of this comment space!You hit the nail right on the head. Even I think lack of organisation and corporate funding prevents the Indian fashion scenario from taking on a serious approach. also i don't really know what thousands of fashion graduates end up doing once they pass out. I'm looking out for work myself but knocking on closed doors can get really exasperating after a while. i think il just have to create the oppurtunity for myself.
I hate fussy clothes too and have rarely been able to sport anything with embroidery. but people like anamika khanna, rajesh pratap singh, abraham & thakore, savio jon suit me just fine. not that i own anything by them yet.but i like to think someday i might.
I know you didn't ask but im from pune hoping to settle down in mumbai in a bit.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I think the comments are longer than the post itself...are you a fashion student? I've heard of people who graduate getting jobs as part of the in-house design team at retail firms, but I'm really clueless otherwise.

indi said...

i finished fashion school about little more than a year ago. I taught illustration, design & concepts for a while. i'm not really interested in designing. i ideally love to work for a magazine doing styling, research and a bit of writing.

Lynna said...

You write very well.