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The Westernization of Indian Fashion Scene

Indian fashion scene has evolved over centuries. Its evolution has been aided by various influences and invasions of India – foreign traders, Greek and Islamic invasion and then Western colonialism. However, Indian fashion industry has the unique characteristic of absorbing and transforming foreign influences into something that is so Indian that it is tough to recognize its origin. In the present times, our fashion industry is mainly influenced by customer choices and globalisation of Indian economy.

The different reasons for the Western influence and its adoption by our apparel and costume industry are:

Tolerant ethos with cultural diversities: India is a nation of multilingual and multi ethnic groups. Each group has its own style and type of dresses and jewelry. Our country is known for absorbing these diverse fashions and making them our own with a distinct Indian look about them.

Indians winning beauty pageants: The recent successes of Indian women and men in international beauty pageants has also influenced our dressing sense. The dresses worn by such winners are a combination of Indian and Western clothes. Ordinary Indians imitate these role models and this impacts the general fashion and apparel industry making it more westernized.

Influence of Indian movies: Indian movies have always influenced the Indian social mindset and their normal everyday lives. People adapt whatever their “idols” on screen are wearing or doing. Thus, the movies that followed futuristic dressing styles as influenced by the West were imitated by the ordinary Indian folks.

Globalisation and Liberalization: With the opening of Indian markets to imports from the West, it became easier to adapt the lifestyle and clothing sense enjoyed by the Western men and women. Indian fashion industry has started attracting western buyers. Thus, the fashion fraternity has also adopted Western designs to create outfits suitable for Indian and Western sensibilities. Moreover, liberalization also led to the beaming of western soaps and sitcoms that revolved around a Western style of living. The Indian populace watches such programmes and has adapted the social and cultural changes and Western lifestyles as well.

Education and employment opportunities: The concept of going to Western Universities to get higher degrees has brought about a change in the fashion and lifestyle of young Indians. Indians emulate the western style of dressing and living so as to get integrated in the Western society once they go there for their education. Employment opportunities have opened up and Indian men and women going abroad to work, change their fashion style to suit the Western sensibilities.

Wear and throw concept: The concept of street wear has been directly adopted from the West and it involves inexpensive clothes that can be worn a couple of times and then discarded. Street wear is also cheaper to buy than the traditional Indian clothes made of fine cotton, silk, etc. Street wear is manufactured in bulk quantities and sold at throwaway prices.

Thus, the Indian fashion scene is totally influenced by differing cultures of the West. The concepts and designs of western wear have been successfully adopted and integrated into the Indian fashion industry.

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