Globalization has triggered a cultural revolution which has left behind an impact on the traditional wear of India. Traditional Indian wear for women, like the sari and salwar kameez are been cast away in favor of jeans, shorts, skirts and tops. Is this influence corroding India’s rich cultural heritage and traditional values to a larger extent?
Ethnic wear – decline
It has been noted in the last decade that the sari has disappeared as work attire among the modern generation of Indian female office goers. Once worn by women every day, the sari is now perceived as apparel for family functions or traditional events. The salwar kameez is relatively more popular, though it is succumbing briskly to the charms of western wear.
Cause of decline in preference of traditional Indian wear
Indian women have stepped out to work and have achieved financial independence. In recent times, the ratio of ethnic wear to western wear has decreased from 70%:30% to 50%:50% and is expected to decline to 30%:70% or lower.
"As the importance of Western-style clothes is fast moving up the priority list of Indian women, the prospects for Western women's wear has never been more upbeat," said Sanjeev Mohanty, the India-based managing director of the global fashion powerhouse Benetton.
Transformation in the Ethnic wear
Western clothing was actually introduced over five decade ago in the form of celluloid. But social values and stigmas restricted it from becoming mass-appeal until the mid-80s. Local men’s wear brands such as Arrow, Raymonds, Allen Solly, Van Heusen, Scullers, etc. are now vending women’s western wear, too. Foreign brands such as Esprit, Tommy Hilfiger, Mango, Bossini and Sisley are headed India- ward as well.
Satya Paul, one of India's most famous designer brands of saris, have revolutionized the Indian sari and created a demand for its worldwide. His collection included a new line of women's wear called "trouser-saris" and "skirt-saris", which are pre-pleated saris with a trouser underneath, and a skirt pleated and designed to look like a sari.
"Ethnic clothing pieces in a woman's wardrobe may increase in absolute numbers because the size of the wardrobe is getting larger," said Mayank Agarwal, owner of Siyaa, a multi- designer store in Kolkata. The sari, it seems, is not ready to go down without a fight. Almost all stakeholders, including big sari designers such as Satya Paul, Tarun Tahiliani and Raghavendra Rathore, and even the eminent local journalist turned sari designer Sobha Dey, are crafting innovative programs to bring what they call "the sensuous six-yard drape" on the comeback trail.
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