People watching – turns out that it’s quite a passionate hobby for me rather than a way to fill up dismal moments of boredom. I have vivid memories of the summer I stayed in New York City for an internship where many evenings were spent perched on a stool at a Pret-a-Manger staring into the street as people merged and dispersed like waves. The spectacle was quite a visual treat, a fashion film that never ended but one that wouldn’t repeat itself either. There were people of all sorts, especially walking style statements with intrinsic flair. Nobody was mocked or stared at for their outfit; nothing was ever too exaggerated or too bold. As I sank myself into a delectable piece of pain-au-chocolat, glimpses from an assortment of fashion eras began to unravel before my eyes.
There were women with dyed red hair wearing vintage full-skirts, a young girl in a graphic tee and cut-off shorts and a bespectacled man in tortoiseshell frames and a color blocked shirt. They all looked strong, almost warrior like, brimming with confidence, almost as if they were saying ‘This is me, take me as I am.’ That’s New York for you, a sartorial wonderland where fashion dwells in an aura of endless possibilities and endless experimentation. A place where the same structured peplum top from H&M’s Spring Summer 2012 collection appeared on the speckled streets in all avatars: layered with a tweed bolero, over a pair of washed out jeans, and one even with an exquisite silk kimono.
Moving over to the East: India – a country effervescent with diverse culture and rich history, every state is a treasure trove of hand-loom fabrics and ingenious embroidery. Whether it’s the graphic ‘Ikat’ weaves from Orissa or the metallic ‘Danka’ from Rajasthan, these traditional fabrics have been unconventionally transformed into edgy western silhouettes such as cut-out dresses and tailored jackets. Indian street style is not a new phenomenon, it has existed for centuries where the dress of the common man has proven to be inspiration for many runway collections. One such deft curator of authentic street style fashion from India and Bhutan is blogger –Manou of ‘Wearabout’. Through his adventurous travels he captures tribals and locals clad in original garments such as checkered ‘lungis’, long vests and bearded men adorned in ornate silver jewellery. These curated images have gained immense appreciation as they lend an insight to the original trendsetters of the country.
The contemporary Indian fashion scenario is one that has finally realised the importance of street style, the vitality of individuality coupled with the elusive moment of capturing a great outfit with character on the street. Many online brands such as Bhane.com are using this aesthetic by recreating a street style mood to showcase their clothes, this lends a certain ease to the garment when it is displayed on a regular stylish individual that seems to increase its buying value. The new-age youth no longer shy away from donning bold prints and bringing out their mothers ‘Jhumkas’ with their tank tops. Established publications such as Vogue and Elle have expansive sections dedicated to street style on their websites. A volley of fashion bloggers is also responsible for enhancing the idea and the singularity that is street style.
A Fashionabe Evolving Country
India has evolved from absentmindedly replicating looks from magazines to understanding the actual meaning of a garment and the story behind it. The herd mentality of purchasing from only popular high-street brands is slowly dissolving into a new desire for niche brands that offer unique merchandise. The modern fashionista is a smarter shopper wouldn’t steer from going that extra mile and having a dress custom made by a skilled tailor in the bylanes of a thumping city. This is only the beginning for a fashion-forward country that knows how to expertly blend culture with a select array of universal fashion elements.
Written By: Tanya Mehta