Documenting India’s contemporary fashion history

February 27th, 2008 - 9:21 am ICT by admin  

By Shweta Thakur
New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) What are the clothes and styles that Indian youngsters embrace at different points of time? An institute here is documenting it all to give the country a sense of its contemporary fashion history. “We don’t have a history as yet. Our design industry is not very old and more so we don’t find any fashion historians in our country,” said Nien Siao, head of department, Fashion Design, at the Pearl Academy of Fashion.

“To fill this gap, we have started photo documentation of youngsters, mainly students. This will help us access the fashion trends of the current generation,” she told IANS.

After collecting the photo records, the institute would carry out a survey to find out what kind of fashion trends were prominent during which period among the country’s youth, Siao said.

“It is premature to talk about what kind of fashion trends would come up because this is just the first phase of the project. It is less than a year since we started the initiative,” she added.

Sumeet Nair, executive director of the Fashion Design Council Of India (FDCI), said: “We need a historical chronicle. I am sure the initiative would help the industry enormously.”

FDCI is the apex body of the Indian fashion industry and organises the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) twice a year.

“History gives us a perspective of the past. The present effort of the institute will help us understand and learn more about the evolution pattern and growth trajectory of our country’s fashion industry,” Nair added.

Siao said she was upbeat that the findings of the study would prove extremely beneficial for the designer industry. The study will take into account diverse subjects ranging from customer needs to contemporary fashion.

“The record would benefit designers in understanding customer needs better. It would also give an insight into the industry to the faculty members and students of design.

“I think all designers must undertake such a survey on their own. This way they would largely contribute to putting together the history of fashion,” she emphasised.

Hailing the initiative, both the fashion fraternity and faculty members said the documentation of Indian fashion would benefit aspiring designers.

“It is a brilliant idea. Authentic findings would prove of great help for next generation designers,” said renowned designer Raghavendra Rathore.

Fashion doyen Ritu Kumar said, “Documentation would become historical evidence that is indispensable for any industry.”

Ashima of style duo Ashima-Leena said: “People are always curious to know about the evolution of an industry. It is great that our (fashion) industry would soon have a record.”

Shedding light on another facet, Asha Baxi, senior professor and dean of academics in the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), said: “Because of plenty of international books, conducting research on Western fashion is much easier. But not enough material is available to scholars on the history of Indian Fashion.

“I am happy to see that the process has begun. Ours is a tropical country having a different lifestyle and style orientation. The findings would help aspirants understand the needs of our domestic market better. They would later provide designs with international orientation to the global fashion fraternity, but with the Indianness intact,” she added.

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