Some believe fashion to be an art form, while others consider it to be a way of expressing themselves and showing who they are, without words.

While fashion means different things to different people, it is widely agreed that fashion is a form of expression and a representation of our personalities. As fashion is who we are and what we wear, it is largely influenced by our culture.

Changing trends of fashion

For an ancient country like India, fashion is heavily influenced by history, politics, society, culture and heritage.

During British rule, fashion was synonymous with the Victorian fashion style and as such, western clothes became a symbol of status and wealth during that period. Following the independence, India began shaping its own identity, which also reflected in the fashion trends. Khadi, introduced by Mahatma Gandhi, was a huge fashion trend.

During the 60s and 70s, the flourishing film industry ushered in an era of bright colours, polka dots and bell bottoms, while also laying emphasis on heavy jewellery and embroidered sarees. From the 80s, the fashion trends started reflecting western influence in the form of denim, leather jackets and glittery apparel.

With the onset of globalisation in the 90s, trending fashion involved short dresses, crop tops, halter necks, long skirts, high-waist pants and full-sleeved salwar kameez in different styles. The late 90s and early 2000s also witnessed Indian designers flourishing at the international stage. The use of eccentric Indian material and prints along with western fashion reflected the perfect amalgamation of classical values and modern outlook. This popularised kurtas and kurtis with denim, spaghetti tops with sarees and shirt-like kurtas for men, among other trends.

Current fashion trends have furthered this east-west fusion. The use of ethnic prints such as kalamkari (a traditional form of hand painting), ikat (a traditional dyeing technique), bagh and bagru on sarees, gowns, tops and blouses, crop tops with high-waisted ethnic skirts, Aline kurtas with palazzo pants, embroidered waistcoats sporting vibrant Indian colours and material, long and embroidered Indian gowns using ethnic material are all excellent examples of fusion wear.

Preserving Indian culture through changing fashion trends

Throughout these changing trends, we can see that the rich Indian culture has always been reflected in what we wear. Although they might not be worn in the same way, our tradition and rich heritage have always managed to make a huge presence in our fashion trends, regardless of the era.

Sarees, lehenga cholis, anarkalis are as popular now as they were in our past, dating back to the time of kings and queens ruling different Indian states. The vibrant and colourful Indian prints, materials and stitching techniques have been preserved in different ways since ancient times and adopted by fashion designers worldwide.

This shows that even though the fashion trends might change, our roots and rich culture aren’t forgotten. It’s important to remember this and continue preserving our culture and national heritage in fashion.

As stated earlier, fashion is an expression of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe in. Reflecting our culture through what we wear is a great way of preserving it.

Ritika Tiwari
Freelance Writer/ Blogger/ Content Strategist