What’s wrong with Indian urban street fashion.

Rural Indian Fashion Versus Urban Indian Fashion | An illustration by Shivani Krishan | Chai High is a fashion blog started by Shivani Krishan

Every time I see pictures of street fashion from Paris or Tokyo, I am struck with the complete absence of it in urban India. The fun in fashion is absent. Fashionistas alternate between the safe zone of tried-and-tested Instagram blogger-inspired trends that they buy straight off the shelves at Zara, and the clearly-in-bad-taste experimentation. There is no middle ground. There is no surprise in everyday dressing. No yellow socks with oxfords and definitely no midi skirts with graphic tees. Hell, nobody even wears the midi apart from aunties.

Even our magazines more often than not dictate the mundane and the obvious and seek to our Bollywood celebrities for inspiration – who themselves alternate between safe-and-therefore-aesthetic, and downright bad taste. The only exceptions according to me are  Sonam Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut who (thankfully) manage to experiment right.

But who is to blame for all this? Definitely not the celebrities themselves – the poor souls pay their stylists hefty sums to dress them right. The stylists, then? But, how can we blame them too? They probably look at Indian fashion magazines for inspiration – most of which  publish pretty uninspiring stuff these days – a bland copy-paste of Indian designers’ work and celebrity style. The media? Maybe. They go around imposing their own opinion of “What’s in” and “What’s not” most of which is stemming from pretty stereotypical, safe-zone roots, which sparks off the chain reaction with celebrity stylists sticking to picking out black tights and bomber jackets for all ‘airport style’ clicks.

The only real beauty lies in the editorials, methinks. Not that i subscribe to any fashion magazine – I am more of an online reader and vogue.com’s Marjon Carlos has some pretty interesting articles up her sleeve (only when I read such writing am I truly inspired by fashion). So, back to my point, the magazine editorials do have some pretty cool stuff happening. Kudos Anaita Shroff Adajania. But then again, sometimes there are way too many spacesuits and lingerie shoots for my liking.

Now, when it comes to street fashion, India does have a  distinct style bubbling rurally. Notice the flower girl at the traffic signals – the rural import in the urban domain – this girl wears her long skirts just above the ankles while thick silver anklets graze her delicate feet. Her skin is polished like expensive teak, her face clear (unlike most urbanistas with their french fries and cigarettes) and this brings the gold of her nose ring to shine brighter than ever. She mixes and matches her blouse and dupatta with the striking floral of her skirt and the hoops dangling from her ears, and that’s when I see potential.

But when it comes to ‘our’ – the urban youth’s everyday street style, it’s a mess. We could blame it on the heat and the traffic and the smoke and the dust, but really it’s us who is to blame. We choose to wear the “accepted” and the commonly loved as opposed to pulling together random items and fixing a look. Or, even getting inspired by international runway trends. Like colourful socks with ballerinas. Nah. We just stick to the classic and safe for we refuse to be poked fun of and laughed at behind our backs for our attire. And this fear, keeps us from pushing our fashion beyond the limits of the ordinary. This fear keeps us within the black tights-oversized sunglasses look. And this fear keeps us from being known for street-fashion. I try to push myself, but even I have a long way to go.

Of course, there are people in India who dress really cool and these people pop up on the Fashion week attendee style column. And of course there are a few divas scattered at beauty salons, magazine offices and blogger bases everywhere. But essentially, if you were to look around, most people you’ll see, stick to what they know. It could be a smart move. Or could be very foolish too.

This article is just my opinion. And I would love to hear what you have to say.

Feel free to comment and start a discussion.

Love,

Shivani

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