Indian fashion industry lacks homegrown literature

February 26th, 2008 - 12:58 pm ICT by admin  

By Shweta Thakur
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Indian designers may be making a mark across the world and the country may be dotted with fashion training institutes but there is a big dearth of seminal literature on the subject. There are hardly 10 books and magazines each on fashion and some 50 titles on Indian textiles, handicrafts and techniques penned by domestic authors.

Designer Ritu Kumar’s “Costumes and Textiles of Royal India”, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s “A Celebration of Style”, author Rta Kapur Chisti’s “Saris In India” and “Tradition and Beyond - Hand Crafted Indian Textiles” and Hindol Sengupta’s “Indian Fashion” are among the few books on offer.

As far as fashion magazines go, there are In Touch With Fashion, Images Business of Fashion, M: Men Informed in Style, FNL: Fashion & Life Made Easy, Sports Wear, Couture India, Designer Mode and GQ to name some.

“There are fewer than 10 indigenous books on fashion. But the market is flooded with international titles because they are used as reference books in most fashion institutes,” publisher Ajay Mago of Om Books International (OBI) told IANS.

“Everybody is enamoured of Western fashion and wants to read about that. Even most of our designers’ collections are influenced by Western fashion. Unfortunately, when publishers approach style gurus to write a book on Indian fashion they do not show interest. So where will the books come from?” he asked.

By the end of this year OBI plans to come up with two new books on fashion by Indian authors.

Faculty members reason that their approach is generic and global. Nonetheless they stress that homegrown fashion content would help students understand domestic market needs better.

“Our approach is global in which international books help a lot. But it can’t be denied that if students read Indian books they would understand the domestic market better because the country’s weather, lifestyle and orientation are completely different,” said Asha Baxi, senior professor and dean of academics, National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Sumeet Nair, executive director of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), which organises the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), blames it on the “lack of fashion historians because of a nascent industry”.

D.S. Mehta, secretary of the Sarabhai Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of science, art and literature, offers another reason for the lack of literature on the subject.

“Compared to foreign scholars, Indians are increasingly losing interest in conducting research on Indian textiles. They find it boring!” he said.

The charitable organisation has an extensive programme of publications and has issued nearly 30 books on Indian textiles. It also houses the Calico Museum of Textiles, which assists researchers and collaborates with leading research institutions as co-publishers.

“Research work doesn’t yield instant results. Moreover, it doesn’t promise monetary benefits. So subjects like Indian textiles, handicrafts and techniques doesn’t interest the youth,” said author Rta Kapur Chisti.

For native fashion magazines the situation is no better.

“The condition is sad as far as Indian fashion magazines are concerned. There are not more than 10 fashion magazines in the market, as it is still evolving,” said Tarun Sarda, CEO of Vintage Events that publishes the fashion magazine In Touch With Fashion.

“The cost of production of these magazines is very high because good quality paper and pictures is a must for them. Since they appeal to a niche readership, many publishers are not keen on publishing them,” explained Sanjana Roy Choudhury, editor of publisher Rupa & Co.

The country’s fashion books and fashion magazines market is estimated to be nearly Rs.250 million ($8 million) and about Rs.600 million ($15 million) respectively.

However, publishers are optimistic that the country’s fashion literature market will flourish manifold in the next few years, courtesy the media boom and the increased visibility of international labels that arouses reader curiosity.

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