“Fashion design is the art of design and aesthetics to clothing and accessories.” Greatly influenced by cultural and social issues, fashion designing has gone through a plethora of changes. The fashion designers function in multifarious ways. They have to cater to the changing taste of the consumers because marketing a particular garment requires considerable time. The fashion designers attempt to design clothes which have both aesthetic value and at the same time functionally viable.
“Haute Couture refers to exclusively custom fitted clothing. Haute Couture is made to order for a specific customer, and is usually made from high quality, expensive fabric and is sewn with extreme attention to detail, and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time consuming, hand executed trainings”.
The boom of the fashion industry in India has made the country a fashion conscious nation. The recent growth in the Indian designer fashion industry has gained India recognition in the global designer fashion market. India has become famous for its unique apparel- the saree, which provides the consumer, with elegance, the maximum sex appeal with calculated exposure. And with Arvind Mills supplying the denim for international labels like like Levis Strauss, Lee and Moustache, India is also an important name in the global fabric market. The fact that India is a diverse nation and there is no particular or standard dressing style has opened new avenues of innovation in designer fashion for the fashion designers. FUSION which essentially identifies mixing of the diverse dressing styles of the country has given the designer fashion creators a wide realm of creativity. The designer fashion industry has come up with apparels like the traditional salwar kameez, churidars, kurtis and has blended them successfully in a semi formal way of wearing them over jeans, capris and trousers, creating the unique Indian designer fashion. The traditional saree has also undergone revolutionary changes and the contemporary trend of wearing sarees with part western attires like halter necks, puffed sleeves and deep necks has become a hallmark of Indian designer fashion. The contribution of Bollywood is also undeniable with its extreme and fiercely innovative fashion trends. All these factors compounded have gained India a secured place in the list of top countries manufacturing designer wear and has marked Indian designer fashion, a competition to be reckoned with.
Let us take a brief look at the at the faces that resemble the Indian designer fashion industry and whose contributions has been undeniable in making India a notable fashion designing industry in the global reference frame.
• MANISH MALHOTRA : started his career at the age of 25 by providing the costume designs for Juhi Chawla in the Bollywood film Swarg. Since then there had been no looking back. Numerous Bollywood heroines starting from Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar, Karshma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai….to name a few has basked in the glory of Manish Malhotra costumes. Manish Malhotra entered mainstream designer fashion in 1998, backed by his famous haute couture store- REVERIE. During his visit to New York for Bollywood Awards, Michael Jackson personally requested Manish Malhotra to design his costume for the occasion. So pleased was the international pop star with the efforts of Manish Malhotra that he requested him to design his costumes for the Munich show as well and also for his children. This obviously remains an important milestone in the achievements of the young fashion designer. Manish Malhotra is undoubtedly an important name in the Indian fashion designing industry.
• WENDELL RODRICKS : primarily a fashion designer, a connoisseur of art, a regular columnist for magazines like Apparel, Goa Today and Femina, a freelance fashion journalist for the Indian news media, Wendell Rodricks is famous for his passion with the color white and his ‘chic and minimalist’ costume creations has proven to be a craze. A multitalented designer, he also delves in theatre styling, advertising and portfolios. Wendell Rodrick’s Shiva Temples Collection had been put on exhibition in the Festival of India in Peking, Canton and Shanghai by the Ministry of Culture in 1994. Wendell Rodricks Couture Salon regularly promotes Goan artists. He has been awarded prestigious scholarships like the Fundacao Oriente that enabled him an internship at the famous Museu Nacional do Traje in Lisbon.
• TARUN TAHILIANI : A graduate of The Institute of Fashion Technology, and one of the most celebrated names in the designer fashion in India, he brought a revolution in the Indian designer fashion industry as early as 1987 through his boutique – ENSEMBLE, the first of its kind in India. Apart from establishing and successfully running the Tarun Tahiliani Design Studio in Delhi, he is involved in the export of designer costumes to Tokyo, New York, London, Hong Kong and Dubai. The designer garments manufactured under his personal brand label AHILLIAN are notable for their creativity and uniqueness.
There are many other important contributors in the Indian fashion designing industry like JJ Valaya, Rina Dhaka, Manish Arora, Rohit Bal, Ritu Beri and Ritu Kumar, but lack of space delimits me from offering them proper eulogies. Nevertheless they are as important as the few names cited above in the Indian fashion designing industry.
Indian companies are taking an active interest in the fashion designing industry realizing the huge potential that can be tapped effectively. It is therefore expected that fashion designing industry will show an upward curve in the coming years. An unfinished report by the Fashion Design Council of India along with the data from the audit firm KPMG reveals, “The Indian fashion design industry is expected to grow to Rs1000crore (Rs10 billion) from the current Rs180crore (Rs1.80 billion) within the next five to ten years.” With the increase in the per capita income, there is now a tendency of the buyers to switch from unbranded to branded garments. The designers are focusing more on the ‘Pret’ (ready to wear) collections which are more affordable, rather than exorbitantly priced couture. The branded apparel market in India is worth about Rs4000crore out of the total Rs20, 000crore of the general apparel market. The stake of the designer garment industry is only 0.2% of the branded apparel market. So, conscious efforts and initiatives are necessary to promote the designer garment industry in India. However, garment giants like Raymonds are interested in launching branded labels in the market in the Pret segment and have roped in big names like Tarun Tahiliani. So the future of designer fashion industry is definitely looking up. The climb is long and hard and you may say I am a dreamer, but I would sincerely like to see the names of the Indian designer garment creators in the same bracket as that of Giorgio Armani, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel and Gianni Versace.