Did you know that Mumbai, India is listed among the top 10 Fashion Capitals of the World and one of the fastest-growing fashion capitals globally? You would also be interested to know that India ranks in the top 3 countries of University of Fashion subscribers. (Image credit: thevou.com)
INDIA ON THE GLOBAL FASHION STAGE
In 1999, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), India’s equivalent of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), ignited Indian ready-to-wear fashion with FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week, followed by India Couture Week in 2008, thus placing Indian designers on the global fashion map.
In fact, the sustainable designs of Indian couturiers Vaishali Shadangule and Rahul Mishra were exhibited at Paris Haute Couture Week (PHCW) Spring/Summer 2021 – a first!
In another proud moment for India, several Indian designers, models and influencers were invited to showcase at prestigious global events like Paris and Milan 2022 Fashion Week. Masoom Minawala became the first Indian influencer to walk the ramp as part of her ‘Face of Indian Fashion’ campaign. Her style consists of ‘desi’ (refers to people, cultures and products of a specific region) and ‘fusion’.
Indian designer Binal Patel showcased his ‘TheRealB’ collection and Kamal Haasan’s fashion line ‘KH House of Khaddar’ made their debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2022, while Dhruv Kapoor, for the seventh time, showed his collection during Milan Fashion Week. Vaishali S became the first female Indian designer to showcase in Milan and model Avanti Nagrath went down in history as the first Indian to open the show for global fashion powerhouse Versace.
INDIA’S TOP FASHION DESIGNERS
If you Google, ‘ Top 10 Indian Fashion Designers 2022’, up pops a list that includes: Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal, Masaba Gupta, Neeta Lulla, Anita Dongre, Anamika Khanna and Manish Arora. Google ‘Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop’ and you will find hundreds of Indian designers and their collections. One thing that you’ll notice right away is the use of magnificent embroideries and hand loomed textiles. India is every designer’s paradise. You will also realize that you’ll need educate yourself on Indian fashion styles so that you can tell the difference between different kinds of sarees: Traditional, Fusion, Dhoti, Lehanga, Jacket and Pant sarees, and the various types of ‘sets’: Lehenga Anarkali, Kurta, Gharara and Sharara. And that’s just womenswear fashion terminology, men’s have their own long list. Explore Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop, it’s a lot of fun, educational and VERY inspirational!
So, why is India a designer’s paradise? The richness of their hand loomed textiles, the wonderful master craftsmen who keep the art and craft of embroidery flourishing and the country itself is a wonderful source of inspiration. India even has an entirely ‘Pink City’ – Jaipur!
If you want to know how much fun it is to design in India, just ask our founder, Francesca Sterlacci. She spent seven years working there and traveling extensively throughout the country. Francesca explored various regions famous for a particular textile or craft, such as hand loomed sheer fabrics made on handlooms in Coimbature, cotton plaids from Madras, rayon textiles made in Surat, Bandini cloth of Jodphur and, of course, India’s wonderful tambour embroideries. Francesca’s fav embroidery is called ‘badla work’, which uses thread made from slabs of metal that are melted and pierced through steel sheets.
INDIA COUTURE WEEK
After two years of digital shows due to Covid 19, India Couture Week (also known as ICW) was finally back in physical runway form, from July 22nd – July 31st, in New Delhi. The shows were a true celebration of homegrown talent, craftsmanship and handlooms, commemorating the 15th anniversary of India Couture Week.
India is home to the largest film producing industry in the world, Bollywood and stars like Priyanka Chopra Jones and Deepika Pakudone are frequent celeb A-listers at most Indian fashion shows.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST WEDDING MARKET
The UN now predicts that by 2023, China will lose its top spot to India as the world’s largest population. With India’s population now at 1.412 billion that’s a lot of weddings. It’s no wonder that India is fast becoming the world’s largest bridal market, according to CNN.
It should also come as no surprise that leading Indian designers showcased their bridal creations at India Couture Week (ICW). All 13 of the participating couturiers of ICW used the platform to celebrate the rich heritage of Indian crafts and handwoven textiles in both Western and traditional South Asian silhouettes.
“In India, wearing couture is part of bridal traditions, and many brides look to (India Couture Week) for cues as to what to wear,” said Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India (FCDI).
While Paris’ couture sets the tone for the exclusive world of luxury fashion, in India, couture has a noticeable impact on people’s spending behavior. This is particularly evident in the country’s wedding industry, which, pre-pandemic was worth around $50 billion a year, second only to the United States, according to a 2017 report by consultancy KPMG.
“In Paris, couture drives editorials and red-carpet dressing,” said designer Rahul Mishra, an ICW regular who has presented three collections at the prestigious Paris Haute Couture Week. “In India, couture week drives real consumption.”
“Weddings in India have always been about grandeur and showmanship,” said wedding planner Devika Narain in an interview with CNN. “Post-pandemic there has been a shift, (whereby) weddings have become more intimate — and people want to create an experience. It is quality over quantity, and they are looking for something unique.”
This includes clothing. Narain said many Indian brides are happy to spend between 600,000 and 10 million rupees ($7,600 to $126,000) on wedding attire alone. “Don’t forget: Indian weddings involve more than one function,” she said. “So multiple ensembles are needed.”
COUTURE DESIGNER INSPIRATION
Here are some of the looks that made news at ICW:
FALGUNI SHANE PEACOCK
Inspired by French tapestries and the Renaissance, Falguni Shane Peacock’s collection, Love Forever, marries the aesthetics of Art Nouveau and French and Indian architecture. According to the design duo Falguni Peacock and Shane Peacock, the ensembles serve a traditional yet contemporary design for the new-age bride.
ROHIT GANDHI + RAHUL KHANNA
Titled ‘Fibonacci’, the Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna collection of eveningwear, combines the aesthetics of architecture with Fibonacci wave theory (measures a wave’s ratio/structure). Dramatic fabrics are combined with precise techniques to create looks that are built on mathematical clarity, but remain at the brink of chaos. According to the design duo, this collection is made up of nude tulles, breezy organzas, and opulent velvets.
J J Valaya’s fall/winter 2022-23 collection is inspired by the historic aesthetics of Spain. Titled, ‘Alma’ the collection blends luxurious fabrics, elegant details with the rich embroidery known to the label. “The history of this season’s inspiration, Spain, goes back to over a million years back and this is not the first time that I’ve been inspired by this magical country. But how can one fully and creatively explore any things that has such a vibrant past in just one collection! Therefore, I present to you ALMA (Meaning ‘Soul’ in Spanish), my all-new collection for the Couture seasons of 2022-23, ” says the designer on this inspired collection.
Titled ‘The Road Less Traveled’, Anju Modi’s collection is an insight into the designer’s travels around the world. Modi says this is her most personal collection so far.
INDIA and SUSTAINABLE FASHION
According to the Business of Fashion-McKinsey State of Fashion 2022 report, “the Indian fashion industry accounts for approximately 2.1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions per year—that’s 4 per cent of annual global emissions. More than 70 per cent of these emissions come from production processes, with the remainder coming from retail, logistics and product use. Some 125 companies—including brands like Levi’s and H&M—have committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action launched in 2018“, the report stated. Hopefully these measures will help drive India to more sustainable practices.
In 2019, the central government launched Project SU.RE—short for sustainability resolution—to push the textile industry towards fashion that contributes to a clean environment. Around 16 of India’s top fashion retailers including Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Future Group, and Aditya Birla Retail pledged to source and utilize a substantial portion of their total output using sustainable raw materials and processes by 2025 under the SU.RE initiative. Industry players, meanwhile, say a more concerted effort from the government is required for ethical clothing however, bootstrapped start-ups from India are leading the transformation from environmentally degrading fast fashion to a slower fashion cycle.
While ICW took place in the Indian capital this summer, the next joint edition of FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week will take place in Mumbai from October 12 to 16, 2022, so stay tuned.
If you’d like to learn more about intricate embroideries like they create in India, view our embroidery series by Sylvia Perramon- who is Lesage and Indian trained.