Fashion in India, in its look and feel continues to be a part of the cultural fabric of India today away from the uniformly prescribed fashion code of global fashion. The parallel market of “indigenous clothing has retained itself and co-exists on its own terms with the contemporary” (Dhondy, 2010). The contemporary too draws confidently from this rich heritage effortlessly combining ‘new’ with ‘old’ retaining its core identity. There has of late been a shift to a more inclusive partnership between design and artisan community and clearer focus towards pushing the boundaries in fashion by exploring form, surface and material going beyond pure aesthetics.
Free from the burden of fashion history, new age designers in India are building successful partnerships with artisans where the artisans become true beneficiaries in the business. Meaning and value in the creation is drawn from the collective strength of skill, technique, and resources along with experiences.
This paper attempts to highlight how fashion as a practice can provide a context for crafts to benefit through integration into the ‘process of commerce and business, offering a way forward in socially responsible sustainable design environment’ (Clark, 2007). Having trained as a fashion designer and subsequently as an educationalist in India, the author is inevitably given to identifying patterns and mapping similarities across disciplines to make meaning out of its evolving material and fashion culture.
This article was originally published in “Fashion Colloquia – London, September, 2011”.