The Indian fashion industry is on the verge of witnessing a drastic shift in young women’s contemporary style
By Anuradha Chandrashekar
The simple idea of combining two cultures’ ethnic dressing styles is alluring and perhaps has always been so. Fusion wear a.k.a. Indo-Western clothing is a genre that India laid claim to over four decades ago.
While four decades ago fusion wear was an outcome of co-opting western aesthetics into Indian ethnic dressing, the expression of the ‘born-in-westerns generation’ today is embracing Indian culture and roots with a strong sense of empathy and individuality. The emergence of fusion wear in recent years has successfully ignited the flare of a strong urban indie-street culture in the mainstream Indian fashion industry.
Fusion x Streetwear: The Future of the Indian Fashion Industry
Fusion wear is often misunderstood as merely India’s adoption of western cultural concepts but has, in fact, been a marker of India’s progress towards globalisation in fashion and the expression of individuality, often breaking the shackles of societal norms. The very essence of what defines streetwear is its expression of creativity, liberty and empathy. For Indian streetwear, this is through a fusion of traditional craft, multi-national influences and ungendered style.
1) Handloom Prep
Source: No Borders
Preppy fashion constantly reinvents itself globally. Homegrown labels and influencers juxtapose a classical style with a vibrant handloom woven aesthetic of ikats, jamdani or Benares weaves.
Bought, tailored or upcycled, handloom prep is an expression that is expected to continue to evolve for its desk-to-dinner dressy appearance and nonchalant confidence.
Embracing the classical and widely popular block print art form, the youth today seek new interpretations through graphics and form. From oversized block prints to hyper-simple, geometric motifs, the art form makes a bold statement on contemporary coordinates, often styled with sneakers or brogues.
Be it your next Zoom call, or a casual evening hangout, block print statements in streetwear is a go-to choice, easily accessible and easier to comprehend.
It’s a no-brainer that the 21st century is all about eastern influence globally. Korean music, culture and fashion, for instance, resonate with the youth in India. This year marks an influence of Asian markers in fashion, from the hanbok of Korea to the kimono or obi belt of Japan. In keeping with an androgynous expression, the youth wrap this style in creative ways through asymmetric drapes, anti-fit layers and ultra-wide leg bottoms.
4) Y2K & Evil Eye Motifs
Y2K & Evil Eye Motifs prints are hugely popular all over the world. Known for fun and symbolism, the evil eye motif on enamelled jewellery, patterned or embroidered clothing and encrusted accessories is visible in Gen Z streetwear in India.
5) Illustrated Narratives
Source: Nilu Yuleena Thapa
Illustrated narratives in streetwear are the creative extension of the graffiti artist in India. Large, bold digitised prints are adapted onto minimal silhouettes and coordinate sets. Currently sourced from independent collectives or homegrown labels, the trend is expected to see mass expression.
The pandemic hit everyone’s consciousness hard. The youth, especially, recognised the world is theirs to change, for better or worse, triggering a wave of solo and collective efforts towards this. Upcycling in fashion got a boost as it allowed for unique creative expression in tandem with conscious consumption.
Streetwear fashion designers believe upcycling should be a precursor to recycling as it makes more and better use of old clothes, each with a story to tell.
This genre of Indian fusion streetwear is making heads turn in the fashion world. Though this alluring combination of fusion wear and streetwear is still in its embryonic stage in the Indian fashion industry; it is getting noticed and appreciated for its blend of contemporary design, unique Indian cultural ethnicity and hybrid comfort.
Fashion experts believe India’s very own fusion expression of streetwear fashion is definitely here to stay and make a dent in the fashion industry.
The author is co-founder, ICH NEXT and ICH Creative Consulting LLP