The Indian fashion calendar is marked with the onset of monsoon and all the regional festivals. India being a tropical country which experiences summer for almost six months and winter for two months and the other four months of monsoon which sets the backdrop the festive and wedding season. The monsoon/ festive lines essentially cater to festive requirements and occasion wear. The major Indian festivals like Holi, Ganesh Utsav, Eid, Navroze, Navratri /Durga Pujo, Diwali etcetera are occasions for family reunions and celebrations. Cultural tradition is followed by wearing and gifting new clothes and rejuvenating the wearer and maker. As it stimulates the exchange of gifts and economy. This way consuming mindfully while ensuring sustainable livelihoods to the makers, such that they can also enjoy the festivals too.
Tradition certainly encourages the abundance mindset hence the practice of wearing new clothes with gold embellishment and gold jewellery for festivals and weddings. It extends to Roti, Kapda aur makaan (Food, Clothes and Homes) clean decorated homes, fresh seasonal flowers, fruits, local vegetables used for special meals and the practice of sharing one’s good fortune with deites, animals, friends, family and the community. Encourages sharing to brighten up other lives as it is a good way to celebrate festivals together and being one with nature.
The open association of bling, zari and stark color palettes with Indian clothes depicted in Bollywood, television soaps and mass media is a contradiction to the sartorial legacy of India. Closer observation of Indian costumes reveals use of earthy and warm color pallete derived from natural dyes and subtle use of metallic zari in form of zardosi embroidery and beautiful brocade textiles across India. The use of synthetic dyes bring out very harsh tones and the zari used is often the plastic fibre lurex and faux pearls and stones, plastic sequins and poor workmanship etc. These when used in profusion to create a blingy texture; which is more often scratchy than opulent. Leading the wearer to wait eagerly to get out of the garments once photo session is done for social media posts. The comfort of wearing a piece of good authentic design detail and well-made garment is true luxury.
Best traditional clothes are worn even by people who have discontinued wearing traditional garments like salwar kameez, lehenga-choli and saris in everyday lives. The festive clothes are dressier and elaborate compared to dailywear or workwear. Some women drift towards light weight shiny clothes with zari embroidery for festivals and parties. There are many who like to bring out traditional heavy silks (or artificial silk) with zari and embroidery details. The festive clothes often connect us to tradition and customs: regional drapes and jewellery is worn to take the look a notch higher. People buy and gift saris and embellished clothes during these festivals and wedding season. The festivals or offering pooja is often the reason for wearing the sari for the first time for many young women. This traditional look surely gets a nod of approval and may compliments from the family and friends, and the social media followers.
The story of festive Indian wear is undergoing a rewrite as the fashionistas like expressing their individuality. The OTT (over the top) embellished lehenga ensembles adorned by influencers often leads to Indian version of fast fashion where the mass market embraces cheap synthetic rip-offs with tons of embroidery, and costume jewellery. Taking inspiration from Indian designers who offer an array of choices in prints, silhouettes, embellishment and is referred as Indian Couture ( Couture is associated with French fashion, we can perhaps coin a unique term acknowledging the Craft and sartorial legacy of India). The economic liberalization of India in the 90's had a curious by-product in Indian fashion.
During festival time and wedding season, people find it difficult to get away from heavily- embellished ensembles.
After much fanfare and accolades, what happens to those elaborate festive pieces of clothing?
Are they re-worn and repeated ?
Or because you have worn it and shown off on the gram ( short for Instagram), you cannot be seen wearing it again?
What happens to those dressy pieces, are they discarded?
or rather shared, passed on, re-sold, rented out to others, deconstructed and restyled.
There is need for mindfulness in our festivities too, let us understand the story behind who made our clothes and how does it impact the makers, wearer and Earth.
The Kasavu textiles from Kerala are a beaming example of balancing natural white cotton base with a bright gold woven borders. There are many such beautiful weaves across India to celebrate this festive season and get a good balance of aesthetic, craftmanship and comfort of a soothing touch on the skin. Even if you are a not a bling or zari person, you have a wide variety of natural tones in cotton and silk to choose from as well; they add their
subtle dewy and pristine glow. The rustic warmth of the earthy natural dyed hues also add to the festive vibes and subtle aroma too. Also there are a wide variety of fabric weights from sheer muslins to heavy brocades to suit your taste. The compendium of Indian costume silhouettes and drapes is a rich resource to create a very contemporary Indian look combining colors, textures, motifs, jewellery, makeup and hairstyle. Enjoy the festive looks which are timeless, handcrafted and yet very comfortable and let your skin breathe easily while you share the good vibes.
Mindful slow fashion is about wearing clothes that have strong story behind them.
Asking the right questions will be helpful:
How were the clothes made?
Who were the people who made the clothes and did they earn a fair wage with dignity?
How does the garment suit your style and personality?
How often would you wear it after the festival?
How does the design add versatility to your wardrobe over a period of time?
How does that garment impact the environment, is biodegradable?
While all these questions need to answered, the fashion statement you choose to make with your choice is your power to support mindful fashion. The Indian beliefs and the festivals form a very integral part in the festive consumption for own selves, for gifting in celebration and offerings to the deities.
Lets make mindful festivities the core of Indian Fashion System.