India’s Apparel Industry amidst Covid
Contributor: ANNOU IYER
The Covid scenario is not just about sustaining fashion, brands or designers, it is about sustaining the textile mills, handloom weavers, handicrafts, dyers, tailors, designers, exporters, raw material producers.
The current situation has brought the Indian apparel retail sector to a complete standstill. As India is a sourcing country, the textile and apparel exporters, too, have faced huge losses of order cancellations.
The percentage of Indian designers is less than 1% as compared to the handloom & handicraft sectors in India. Though a few of the Indian designers have somehow managed to convert their businesses recently for making cotton face masks, the real loss is the loss of work for 1000s of villages of weavers and handicrafts makers in India. The real responsibility is of sustaining their livelihoods through this time.
All images: Dastkari Haat Samiti
STREET & FASHION
Indian fashion-conscious consumers, including millennials, are both celebrating their Indian heritage and are proving themselves global fashion followers. More than ever, India ‘s consumers are busy localising world trends and turning themselves into global nomads.
As the young Indian population – both women and men – are exploring their talent and having great careers, they are not holding back when it comes to expressing their choices through their dressing. I am glad to say that fashion in India is becoming more and more a tool of expression, less controlled by the old archetype directives though still controlled by awareness of body shape. And we even have a name for this – “Indian Fusion Wear”.
Fusion Wear is extremely popular in India as it is not confined to any trend or any body type. However, for me, more than ‘fusion’, it is really an ‘anti-fit trend’ – an androgynous fashion style that combines both masculine and feminine characteristics. It’s an expression of the fashion freedom beloved of India at this moment!
Doodlage by Kriti Tula
Pero by Aneeth Arora
Chola the Label by Sohaya Misra
More local than global
According to a report by Technopak, the Indian retail market is expected to show a promising year-on-year growth of 6 percent to reach USD 865 billion, by 2023, from the current USD 490 billion. The apparel share is 8%, corresponding to a value of USD 40 billion.
The incredibly unique Indian wedding industry also adds to the overall growth. According to a 2017 KPMG report titled Market Study of Online Matrimony and Marriage Services in India, the marriage services industry is estimated to be worth approximately US $53.77 billion (Rs 3, 68,100cr). And Indian wedding wear plays an especially important role here.
International luxury brands that don’t succeed in India typically don’t match the aesthetic preferences of most Indian shoppers, which is far from easy to follow. Pucci, for example, entered India with its resort wear collection, while Hermès launched in 2011 in India with a Saree collection, which wealthy Indians were not willing to pay top dollar for.
India is the only market globally, which Is more “local” than “global” in terms of following trends. So, more and more young Indian designers are focusing on the domestic market which is vast. They don’t really cater to “Western Wear”, which is a completely different segment for them and better left to retail brands like Zara and HM in India with their cheap clothing and global styling.
Indian designers are sourcing Made in India products that are sustainable, organic and contribute to the real Indian textiles fashion cycle and ecosystem. They are catering to Indo Fusion wear and Indian traditional wear such as Wedding Wear, sarees and salwar kameez and other traditional clothing. Even though some do cater to international markets, they mostly cater to non-resident Indians which is a huge population outside India or they end up catering to an international clientele, who like Made in India looks and ensembles.
The below designers with their home-grown labels, speak the current language of Indian Fusion wear or Anti-Fit trend very well and are truly transforming Indian wear, giving it a new identity by celebrating the freedom of being in the moment…
The couture wedding market. Photo Paran Singh Photography
Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva
Adding a new language of modernity for women in India who want a minimalist alternative to traditional garments or designer formalwear. Bodice clothes are for the women “challenging conventions” in Indian society. Made with luxury textiles and time-consuming artisanal methods.
Chola the Label by Sohaya Misra
With characteristic silhouettes and layering, there is always a hint of self-exploration resulting in comfortable luxury wear with a lot of detailing and edge. Mostly textured linens and cottons with no embellishments, so the integrity of the fabric is maintained. A contemporary modern label with the ethos of simplicity intact.
Huemn by Pranav Mishra & Shyama Shetty
The brand offers versions of luxury street style, working towards extending the line with womenswear – questioning and breaking stereotypes, exploring the idea of sexual liberation, celebrating body positivity, and focusing on sustainability. Recognising the idea of expanded gender, the brand also offers nonbinary clothing
Ikai by Ragini Ahuja
The brand incorporates western style silhouettes which can easily be amalgamated into Indian society. Translated from Hindi to mean “One”, Ikai introduces traditional Indian skills into a predominantly contemporary collection with androgynous silhouettes, structured cuts and delicate drapes.
Lovebirds by Amrita Khanna & Gursi Singh
The collections are inspired by clean lines, geometric silhouettes and architectural forms and have an essence that stays feminine without being a doll; and oversized without looking like menswear. Japanese inspired, minimal fashion with experimental silhouettes and drapes, quirky graphics.
Indian Kitsch brand known for its ‘art translated’ design philosophy, breaking all boundaries with its individualistic ideas. Nida’s latest collection, Madam Marigold is an of ensemble of tradition and modern elements, focusing on eco sustainability with Ajrakh printing from Gujarat, natural dyes and attempts the analog technique to expose prints on textiles.
Nida Madmood, Model: Anna
Eco-friendly or sustainable clothing is seeing steady growth
Eco-friendly or sustainable clothing has seen a steady growth in India. However, we must not forget that India has always had a rich history of consumption of handmade textiles, Indian cottons and linens, handlooms and natural/vegetable dyed fabrics.
They have always been a part of Indian culture: the idea of “Eco-friendly” or “Sustainable” may be new in western countries but this ideology has always been a part of Indian culture. Indian consumers have been much ahead in adopting sustainable fabrics as handloom qualities are primarily easy to find in India.
What has been a good step forward is that Indian manufacturers are adopting better global practices in terms of international certifications to produce clothes that leave little impact on the environment.
As Indian retail markets are being introduced to international fast fashion brands such as H&M, Zara or Uniqlo, Indian millennials have also embraced the new shift to sustainable fabrics with equal zest.
In this entire current scenario, the new Indian home-grown brands, Indian retailers as well as India’s MSME sector – the medium and small-scale industries – have truly given a new face to Indian fashion, reviving ethical fashion trends.