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One in ten workers is employed by the retail industry in America making it the largest industry in the world. The textile industry declined by 80% in the US, however, the productivity doubled since 1987! The world has spent over 2600 trillion dollars on fashion including apparel, accessories and footwear. The amount of money that is spent on Fashion in the world deserves a style statement. So, what is your style statement? Is it really only the looks or is it the thought behind the look? Is the bottom line the all important criterion or is it the philanthropic reach of the Company? Must we do our due diligence to be part of this amazing world we live in?
Consider this: 80% of humanity lives on less than 2 cups of Starbucks Vanilla Latte. According to UNICEF 22,000 children die every day of poverty. The millennium development goals set in 2000 to end poverty show that targets can be achieved if all nations came together. Sustainable development is key to sustaining the Earth – a place we all call home. Climate change is real – the science proves it. So why are the rivers in China running the pantone colors of the season? Luxury brands continue to lead inflation. As designers and consumers are we doing enough? Is just the look our style statement or is it more than just the look? Donating a pair of Tom’s shoes for every shoe sold – NOW that is a Style Statement! What’s yours?
My first ever experience at India’s premier Lakme Fashion Week was everything I hoped it would be and more! I attended the Fashion week to learn of the untapped opportunities in the market. As a silent observer, an outsider looking in, I was amazed by the quality of the design expertise on the runway. The spectators, buyers and students were dressed impeccably. What was most striking was the absence of traditional India garb, both on and off the ramp! And, when it was present, it was done with a delightful twist! Surendri by Yogesh Chowdhury was as traditional as could be with golden embroidery and cutwork on bright orange, parrot green, black and off-white sarees. Debutante Gauri Khan presented her resort collection and was a breath of fresh air with her imaginative set décor. Mandira Bedi struck gold with her innovative blouses. Padma Shri Wendell Rodrick’s homage to Popology really was a feast for the eyes and deserved a standing ovation! The simplicity of his design was breathtaking, and one only wanted more when the shy Maestro finally walked on to take a bow!
The conversations I had with bystanders, organizers, buyers, designers, the press and the security guards proved to be a treasure trove of information. Everyone made me feel at home – isn’t that what Indians are known for? There was hope, and I came away a bit wiser than I had been a week earlier. I saw that the youth of India were comfortable, bold and proud, and I am confident they are capable of solving the problems that plague the country. Gone are the days when we needed Shabana and Nandita to speak up for Women’s rights. The youth are quite capable, and I think they are bold enough to make a statement of their own.
Notable amongst the young generation were Teresa Laisom and Utsav Pradhan of Munkee see, Munkee doo, the creators of a modern, clean-cut label with pastel colors and the image of guns strewn menacingly on feminine delicate clothing. – a statement too bold to handle for the faint of heart, but a statement nevertheless, by the young man in defense of the woman. An hour-long conversation revealed – that was his way of speaking up against the violence and his way to empower the woman was with the images of guns on the garment, as if to say, “Don’t mess with me!” Ankit and his label Greusha was enabling and empowering the LGBT community. Alan Alexander and his interpretation Kaleekal – of adult clothing through a child’s eye was an interesting use of the humble, unbleached cotton from Kerala. Salita Nanda’s couture designs inspired by Picasso were stunning, and the interpretation of Alaskan art by Babita was a total surprise! Who would have thought of putting Alaskan art on an Indian saree? The results were delightful! Yes, Indian fashion has truly come of age and it is my hope that the youth will take care of the troubles that plague the women and the downtrodden of India. The Fashion industry is alive and well, and has come a long way in the past 15 years with a voice all its own!