Celebrating its 20th edition on the runway WILLS INDIA FASHION WEEK kicked off with collections for the Spring/Summer 2013 season recently, showcasing a noticeable change in Indian fashion. From days of a lot of ‘bling’ splashed over repeated variations of the Indian traditional silhouettes, our designers are finally entering the age of global designs, finding a way to incorporate their cultural aesthetics into an international sense of fashion. Spotting the most western trends like cape shoulders, peplums, asymmetric hemlines, high-waisted flared trousers, oversized patterns in quirky tunics, Team FASHION FORWARD TRENDS was satisfied at observing this dynamism in collections throughout the five-day event. Interacting one-on-one with designers who were equally enthusiastic to share their views on standing out different with their idea of quality, construction, a balanced aesthetic and core buyer demands this season, FFT has lots to share…
Known to find their own direction, Indian designers finally seem to be accepting the idea of referring to a forecast while making their collections. The most prominent of all, was an example set by Nachiket Barve, whose label stands for modern, progressive design that are clever yet commercial, timely yet timeless. Taking inspiration from the colours and aesthetics of the exotic houses and estates of Southern Americas under the Spanish influence, as well as the local textiles, flora and fauna he said, “Personally I have never followed trends. But this time my collection was more global in its appeal as it was more trend and forecast oriented when it came to silhouettes. We did a lot of peplums, cape shoulders, bermuda shorts and the range comprised of more structured and engineered garments rather than flowy patterns, for instance our highlighting saree jumpsuit.”
Picking up one of the major themes from the worldwide S/S 13 forecast – ‘Underwater’, which was the main inspiration of various international designers, was also the collection by designer duo Gaurav and Ritika, inspired from tides, waves and the sea. Elaborating on the mindset behind making such a range, both of them expressed, “This time our collection was in a lighter colour palette. Keeping it very directional for the strong open minded woman, our clientele is both international as well as the domestic market with a line that is very international in its appeal as we do only western wear. Also, as we are known for perfect fits, our priority is the finish, fit and quality with a plan to improve on quality every time.”
Even the fact that ‘glocalization’ is becoming more and more accepted worldwide, designers all over the world are picking up cities with a distinguished culture as their core inspiration. What is even more interesting to note is the fact while Indian designers picked up foreign places, for the same S/S 13 season, many international designers like the sartorially draped gowns and dresses by Marchesa, showed influences of the Indian saari style on the London runways. Others also included Mary Katrantzuo collection that featured digital prints of Indian stamps, Vera Wang and Peter Pilotto were not too far behind on the Indian fashion front as well using Indian textiles and handicraft techniques. And from India was designer Urvashi Kaur, whose inspiration came from her trip to morocco. “For a global clientele, a multi tasking modern woman, my idea was to offer something that she can wear to work as well as for an evening out. While I have kept my silhouettes global with comfort and style this time, I have balanced it with the use of Indian textiles like a lot of handlooms, chanderis, linen, modals and jerseys and retaining the international appeal I have also used Indian techniques like shibori and tie & dye. As quality is becoming a key to design these days, we also make it a point to do everything by hand for a flawless execution,” she says. Keeping affordability and finish in mind, the silhouettes were varied with a lot of drapes and folds, reversible, out of the box silhouettes meant for all body types, and highlighting pieces of palazzos, kurtas and tunics.
Creating a balance between international and Indian aesthetics, one cannot say that Indian designers have changed their sensibility altogether, instead they have found a way of incorporating their cultural strengths in terms of techniques and textiles in western wear, which is becoming a global demand from the country. Perfect examples of this newfound balance, was the collection of Niket and Jainee, who showcased an electric mix of design element inspired from Indian heritage in the form of tribal embroideries giving a weaving effect to international fabrics and silhouettes. Agreeing to have observed this change, Niket said, “International buyers demand Indian fabrics and appreciate Indian craftsmanship. There is certainly a gradual shift to international appeal as this time no one did a lot of glitter and no one even used a lot of net, which are very domestic. Everyone is trying to stand out with rich traditional textiles that appeal to the sensibility of a foreign client.”
Supporting the thought was the range by Vaishali S, which stood true to the observation. With the soul remaining ‘ethnic India’, and designs being contemporary and westernized, the designer used hand-woven chanderi from Madhya Pradesh and woven khand fabric from Maharashtra, a handloom fabric made from sugarcane. “I have kept my colour palette and silhouettes very international as my target audience is international buyers from US, UK and Middle East. I made it a point that only textiles were traditional Indian textiles and remaining everything was global in appeal as this is what the buyer demands today,” she elaborated.
Amid all this international shift, one of the key changes that is taking place at a growing pace is the changing preferences of the domestic market as well. As all Indian designers also cater to the domestic market in a big way, no one can fail to agree that there is still a pool of vast opportunities for them. Designer labels Pankaj and Nidhi, in order to cater to both markets at the same time showcased two different lines, one for the domestic market which is more of salwaar kameez, churidaar, sarees whereas international was full of total western wear. Commenting upon the similarities and merging dynamics of the two, Pankaj said, “Our market is high-end boutiques and international buyers like Anthropologie. Today Indian market is equal to the West. I won’t say there is a conscious shift to the international taste but the fact is that Indians also have the same taste today. Certain silhouettes like tunics are something that is common to both lines. Also both demand quality which is always a priority and for that we have quality control measures.”
Supporting the expansion of domestic tastes, Urvashi added, “Even though we are all catering to an international client, I still think India is a bigger market. The Indian women are now very open minded and strong headed and people are accepting change. For instance, women in India are wearing peplums today which once could have looked outrageous to them.” Nachiket also believes that the domestic market is always the bigger market and being a designer from this country, it’s important to have your roots in India itself, and spread your wings in the foreign lands step by step.