Evolution of Indian Fashion Industry through the Social Fabrics

Author – Harsh S

From salwar kameez to denim to high street fashion, Indian fashion industry has gone through leaps and bounds. Fashion is all about style and elegance which undergoes constant evolution. The changes in the fashion trends usually reflect the political and social scenario across of several nations. Interestingly, various reports suggest that fashion as a cultural practice was first recorded in the western world during the late fifteenth century. This artistic practice was exclusively reserved for the aristocrats and royals at that time. In India, the transformation has not been that drastic as compared to the western nations. This can be owed to the various traditional beliefs and customs held by a majority of Indian women. In this context, it is interesting to note that with changing times; even the most traditional apparels have been improvised to render them an urban look without compromising on the tradition.

Indian Fashion Trends – Source : Luxemi2.rssing.com

A deep insight into the fashion industry of India

The fashion industry in India has registered tremendous growth over the years. This growth can be attributed to the influence cast by the western fashion industries. As per a report by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, India is the second largest exporter regarding clothing and textile in the world. Quite interestingly, the apparel and textile industry in India would worth more than USD 145 billion by the end of 2021.

Other factors would propel its growth significantly. For instance, elements like increasing penetration of organized retail and rising income levels are expected to drive the growth of the Indian fashion industry in years to come. On the other side, the increasing proliferation of smartphones has made it easy for the fashion industry to attract and retain customers. In this context, it is interesting to note that the market for women’s fashion wear is quite lucrative. Even the international fashion brands and houses are leveraging on women fashion to register growth.

Fashion During the British Regime

Woman in Choli Ca. 1872. Via Wikimedia

After the arrival of the British in India, the fashion trends registered a drastic change. It is interesting to note that the Indian population got influenced by the costumes and dresses worn by the British rulers. In this context, it is worthwhile to note that during the British regime in India, the seeds of early fashion revolution are placed. Men turned their attention to sports suits. Women during that time were traditional, and due to this, they could not dare to jump to western dresses. However, the alterations were visible in the women attire in the form of Cholis. Quite phenomenally, with the arrival of British fashion in India, a large number of other European fashion trends started to invade the Indian market. This had a direct impact on the Indian fashion industry and is responsible for its evolution. Here is the list of phrases that are responsible for the development of fashion industry in India.

The Roaring Period of the 1920s

Indian Fashion Trends in 1920s – Source

This decade is also known by the name of Charleston Era in the Indian fashion world. Quite importantly, this phase is also known by the name of Modern Era in the fashion industry. It is that era when the women discarded restricted fashions and moved over to comfortable and daring clothes. Clothes such as skirts and trousers became prevalent among the upper echelons of the Indian society. On the other hand, the Cholis started sporting a bright look which best resembled the Charleston Dresses. At this period of time, the sarees were made with Georgette and Chinese silk. In other words, during this phase, the women started to sport bold dresses. 

The Period after the Wall Street Crash

Image Source

The Wall Street crash during the late 1930s had a direct impact on the Indian fashion industry. The suits that were worn by Indian men now came with belt loops. In other words, during this phase, the Indian fashion industry once again underwent a considerable alteration. The fashion trends prevalent among the Indian women depicted a massive change in the dresses. The blouses that were being worn by the Indian women now have padded shoulders. Silk sarees were preferred more than the cotton sarees. The gowns worn with sarees also sported a different look. During this period, they have shorter sleeves which made them increasingly demanding.

The Turning Point in the Indian Fashion World

The introduction of the miniskirt created ripples in fashion industries around the world. However, due to the presence of traditions in the Indian society, the Indian women could not wear miniskirts. However, they invented a manner in which the miniskirts can be made more traditional in the form of Salwar Kameez. The Kameez rose a few inches above the knee upwards. Quite interestingly, during this same time, the other dress materials like nylon achieved prominence. It is so because nylons are usually crease proof and are easy to wash.

Image Source

By the time the 2000s arrived, the salwar kameez again underwent remarkable change. Its new variant came to be known as Kurtis.  Hence, it is quite evident that the Indian fashion scenario has undergone fantastic metamorphosis. Another interesting fact that can be mentioned in this context is that the traditions and customs of the society also play a pivotal role in the evolution of fashion industry. Irrespective of how Indian men and women chose to dress, one thing is quite clear. The Indian fashion industry would continue to evolve in the future too.