North Indian Fashion Trends: Then and Now

North India has always been a geographically strategic location and as such, it has been the center of political struggles for centuries. Though many rulers have come and gone, it has remained an immensely important political center. This has resulted in a very diverse and rich culture made up of different religions and communities that have influenced each other tremendously. The clothing fashions of this region are a great way to explore its multi-cultural nature. Though many of the most popular north Indian outfits, like the salwar kurta or the Punjabi suit, are quite traditional, they have evolved over the years to meet the demands of each new generation. The end result is a tremendous amount of variety in terms of cuts, colors and designs.

The most popular casual wear garment for men that is worn across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and many other north Indian states is the salwar kurta. It consists of a long, straight-fitting tunic and a pair of loose pants that gather at the ankles. The salwar kurta can be worn by men as well as women, though women typically go for the more feminized salwar kameez. This outfit was initially only worn by men as a casual wear outfit, preferred because of its comfort and versatility. It came in classic colors like white, beige and tan. The modern, fusion salwar kurta outfit is worn by both men and women and sometimes, the kurta is worn alone in combination with jeans or trousers. There are many different varieties of the salwar kurta, from the classic, loose fitting garments in neutral tones to the designer, modern versions with fitted silhouettes.

Today the kurta has become a huge trend in both Indian and western fashion. It is considered an Indian version of the stylish tunic top and comes in a plethora of different colors, designs, patterns, fabrics, necklines and sleeve styles. In north India, it has become as popular as the Punjabi salwar kameez, especially for casual wear amongst the younger generation. The kurta can be worn for daily wear as well as special occasions depending on the richness of the outfit. It is sometimes paired up with fusion garments like the Nehru jacket (which is a well-fitted jacket distinguished by its high, closed neck collar) to create a smart, formal look. The kurta and Nehru jacket combination is one of the most popular wedding ensembles for men in north India, along with more traditional garments like the silk salwar kurtas and embroidered sherwanis.

The emergence of online portals as the premier mode of shopping has really changed the face of fashion in India. Many of these classic north Indian outfits have become popular and in-demands across India. For men and women in different parts of the world interested in buying kurtas, pyjamas, salwars and Punjabi suits, online shopping has proven to be a great boon. Now, both traditional and classic varieties of these outfits can be easily purchased no matter where the customer is located.

The Cultures Behind Fashion Trends

From gladiator sandals to skinny jeans to animal prints – one has to wonder, what influences fashion trends? Where do all of these ideas, some of them great and some downright bizarre, come from and how do they gain so much popularity, spreading like wildfire until practically everyone on the planet who can afford it is wearing a particular item? Even if you’re not particularly fond of following fashion trends, you have to admit that there’s something to be said for a particular style of clothing that can move millions of people around the world to dress in it.

So what influences fashion trends? In a nutshell, fashion trends are made by people for people and are a reflection of human nature and human activities. You wear something as an expression of who you are, what you believe in and where you come from, meaning you are representing a certain kind of fashion culture that you are either a part of or that you want to be a part of.

High Culture

The idea of high culture is synonymous with luxury and a sense of exclusivity. These involve things like painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, literature and the like. What influences fashion trends can be seen in certain famous fashion houses, not only in their clothing lines but in their advertising campaigns too. For example, Gianni Versace’s logo is that of Medusa from Greek mythology, a stylized drawing on a golden, medallion-like background, which lends an air of bold artistry to his clothing line, along with a sense of high-end sophistication and glamorous seduction.

Pop Culture

Think the sixties and it’s tie-dye and peace medallions, while the seventies was all about the bell bottoms and platform shoes. This is one of the key answers to what influences fashion trends. Pop culture is basically what the media and the press hype up every day you turn on the TV or go online. This is the culture of celebrities and famous personalities whom everyone else wants to look like, and of clothing produced for the masses. For example, if a popular celebrity is photographed wearing a specific coat, sales on that coat are sure to skyrocket as certain popular celebrities are considered global fashion icons and role models. This is why many fashion labels turn to celebrities to endorse their clothing, accessories and footwear. Pop culture sells a certain lifestyle that people want to have and qualities that people want to possess.

Subculture

This is the culture of the “streets,” of those considered out of the mainstream, such as the hip-hop, graffiti, rock and punk scenes or the surf and skateboard cultures. If classified simply, this is the more bohemian aspect of fashion, of individualistic and unique styles, like the low-slung, baggy jeans that were primarily connected with the hip-hop scene or graffiti art on sneakers associated with skateboarding. The thing about subculture however is that it tends to turn into pop culture given enough time and attention. What influences fashion trends are the same things that keep these same trends constantly changing and that is something about fashion that will never go out of style.

Fashion Trends for Fall 2006

This season sees designers moving towards smart, androgynous looks, British influenced classics and eighties retro styling.

The smart trend includes pencil skirts, smart blouses and wide trousers with turn-ups. Jackets are fitted, either 80’s cropped style or a ‘borrowed-from-the-boyfriend’ tuxedo. The catwalks were also full of shift dresses and crisp white blouses teamed with ladylike accessories.

The androgynous look is epitomised by a continuation of last summer’s trend for skinny jeans along with cigarette pants. The season’s hot coat is tipped to be the parka, another masculine look, made feminine in a shiny fabric.

If you prefer a more girlie look, this season’s skirt length is the mini, ranging from just above the knee to very short indeed. The look is a mini skirt worn with opaque tights, or a mini dress worn over leggings. As the dresses get shorter, tops are getting longer, almost to tunic length, and so may be interchangeable.

Once again many designers were showing the influence of traditional British clothing with tweeds, tartans and checks used for coats, dresses, skirts and trousers. You may have the elements of this look in your wardrobe already, so if you stashed your classics now is the time to get them out of storage.

An eighties vibe ran through many of the collections; as well as the baggy top over leggings look, there were neon colours teamed with black, black and white graphics and well, more black.

If you want a new coat and feel a parka isn’t your thing then the shape being offered for this winter is a rounded shape dubbed either the ‘egg’ or the ‘cocoon’. This voluminous silhouette can also be worn by getting into this seasons chunky knits in Aran, Nordic and Fair Isle designs. Tulip shaped dresses and skirts were also in evidence.

After the colourful shades of spring/summer 06 the colour for autumn is grey, in any shade from dove to charcoal. If you need a little more colour in your life then ruby red is the colour for this season’s party dress. The only pattern to be seen in is an animal print which can be found on everything from coats and dresses to scarves and shoes.

This season’s must-have accessory is a handbag and it should be huge. Classic black, brown and tan bags are available everywhere along with dark greens and burgundy so this could be your investment purchase of the season. Belts from thin to thick were used on the catwalks to reign in the roomy sweaters and cocoon-shaped dresses.

The fashion shoe of the winter is the shoe-boot, a cross between a court shoe and a low ankle boot. There were also plenty of platform court shoes reminiscent of the early 1990’s but with super high heels. Boots are knee high with either high heels or in a biker style.

For jewellery lovers, last summer’s trend for wearing just one statement piece, almost always a necklace continues, with earrings and bracelets rarely seen on the catwalks.