Yes, fashion may be symbolized by the couturiers in Milan, Paris and London, but it eventually trickles down to the street-smart fashionista on the streets and the subway who teams a kurti or a Pashmina with her jeans. Yet there is so much more than meets the eye. The Indian connection has so infiltrated the fashion world that it’s become part of the atmosphere, part of the style language without being distinctly Indian. And intriguingly enough, the Indian fashion inspiration is just the tip of the iceberg. Fashion houses across the world are gradually drawing more inspiration from India than ever before.
The fashion world is sometimes fueled by Indian style and silhouettes, sometimes by Indian colors or Indian accesorization , but a splash of “India” is all prevailing. Ralph Lauren consistently uses Indian influences, beading and embroideries in his collection. His embrace of the Nehru collar has been so strong over the years, that now in his designs, it’s regarded simply as the Ralph Lauren look. Designers from Oscar de la Renta to Roberto Cavalli go to India for their couture line, to get the beading and embroideries done in India. Indian designers have made New York and London an extension of Bombay or Delhi, and are frequently, holding fashion shows for the South Asian market, and trunk shows, which are often attended by the mainstream. The fashion statement we make in our colours, textures and motifs is simply being lapped up by the rest of the world because of one plain reason – they are loving it!
Thirty-eight years ago, the grand old lady of Indian fashion, Ritu Kumar, spun the thread of a demand for exclusive clothes and good designs among the not so fashion conscious ‘Calcuttans’. So, the designer gifted the city its first ever designer-wear outlet – a small room rented out by a grocery store on Wellesley Street. Designer wear in Kolkata has crept along ever since and is ready to ride a crest today, having invaded malls and marriages, boardrooms and bars.Till about six-seven years back, Kolkata designers were considered to be regional. But in the past five years, the city has seen the emergence of a strong core of young designers who have put our fashion on the international map. This has generated massive awareness about designer wear in the city. The “designer fever” has finally hit Kolkata.
In Calcutta, professionals still don’t invest that much in designer clothes. They either go to the swanky malls or to high end retail stores, but with the changing retail trends it is expected that nobody would be left out of the grasps of this new revolution that has it the city. Designers exploit the heritage and tradition of Bengal, where the strengths lie in the weaves, the hand-embroidery and the prints-which explains the rich ethnic couture content. Calcutta has emerged as a big wedding centre. A lot of people from other cities, even Delhi and Mumbai, come down to Calcutta to do their wedding and trousseau shopping. There is a boom in the entertainment industry – more multiplexes, new restaurants and people getting new places to hang out. This will provide people with more and more occasions to flaunt clothes and increase the requirement for prêt, which is being touted as the next big thing in fashion that will sweep Kolkata off.