INFLUENCE OF INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT ON FASHION TRENDs
Trend is the general direction in which something is developing or changing. In fashion, trends are key indicators that directly or indirectly affect and characterize the look of a season. Fashion is often affected by seasonal trends which imply that a particular style, silhouette, color, texture, etc. may be dominant at a given point of time leading to a collective societal tendency to wear similar clothes. Trend forecasting is undertaken as an ongoing activity by fashion forecasters who have professional experience in identification of future trends. Once identified, the trend is 'labeled' i.e. given a catchy theme/name. This catches the attention of the apparel industry which takes steps to capitalize on this trend and produces its own collection which is called the 'coat-tail' or 'bandwagon' movement.
This year we are celebrating the 75th Independence Day of India. In a country like India, where clothing forms a crucial part of the culture and tradition, fashion holds a place of importance. If we look back towards the pre-independent era, we would see that the independence movement had a great impact on the country's fashion in general and also the fashion trends of that time. Here's an overview of the impact that the independence movement created on the fashion trends of India:
Fashion Before The Independence Movement:
Before India got her Independence, stitched pieces of clothing were not common among the masses. It was not that stitched clothing did not exist, but it was not very popular among the masses. The common men and women were far from any kind of western-influenced clothing as they neither had the money nor the status to do so. The men used to wear a piece of cloth knotted at the waist known as a dhoti or lungi, a vest like top and a piece of cloth wrapped around the head known as a turban. The women wore sarees and blouses. In some areas even blouses were not worn. Metal jewelry such as bracelets or earrings was worn by both men and women.
Fashion During The Independence Movement:
British rule influenced Indian Fashion to a great extent. The independence movement used clothing as a means to send messages to the colonizers. There was a sense of patriotism among the Indians and they promoted Indian textiles and fabrics.
We know that the Independence Movement of India was primarily led by Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as 'Gandhiji'. Khadi was a part of the 'Swadeshi' movement led by Gandhiji to promote Indian handloom and boycott everything produced by the Britishers. Khadi spun by Mahatma Gandhi in pre-independent India was not just a fabric but an emotion. It symbolized the desire of the Indians for Independence. The cloth is made from cotton, bu
t it may also include silk or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a charkha. It is a versatile fabric that remains cool in summer and warm in winter. After independence, The All India Khadi & Village Industries Board was set up in January 1953 by the Government of India.
The 21st century saw Khadi being used in different versions, different fabric blends as well as embellished luxe designs from designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Kumar, Gaurang Shah and Anju Modi. More recently, Khadi has become even more popular with new age and homegrown brands that are using the versatile fabric in innovative ways. Brands like Eka, One Not Two, and Asa use Khadi for breathable and contemporary designs.
Another garment that was sparked into popularity is the 'Nehru Jacket'. The jacket with a band collar called 'bandhgala' or 'achkan' jacket worn by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was a popular alternative to the western menswear suit in the 1950s. India's former Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, after whom the jacket is often referred to, made its khadi versions more popular during the pre and post-Independence era. The Nehru Jacket is a hip-length tailored coat for men or women, with a mandarin collar, and with its front modeled on the Indian achkan or sherwani.
These longer, more relaxed versions of the jacket are popular even today. The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is often seen sporting these jackets and thus these jackets are sometimes known as the 'Modi Jacket'. The jacket's popularity has also made its way to Indian women's wardrobe, proving to be a gender-fluid as well as a versatile silhouette for modern times.
The British Influence:
Introduction to blouse and petticoats:
In the pre-independent era, a significant percentage of women wore a drape of white coloured, yards-long cloth called saree. The entry of Britishers brought with it an upturned smile about the layers that were lacking in the saree. The rulers found it offensive to wear saree without a blouse or a petticoat, thus infusing it with European influences. Fast-forward to the years following 1947, blouses and petticoats made a permanent home for themselves in every wardrobe. Even today one isn't complete without the other when it comes to the traditional silhouette.
Saree pins and brooches:
Indians were most definitely picking up on the various ways that the English chose to dress up. It does make us wonder what pushed the older generations into pinning up their saree or dupattas with broaches instead of ordinary pins. The pins and brooches were around earlier and were like the Edwardian bar pin or a round, jeweled brooch, Generally, they held the pleats at shoulder together, around this time the pleats were often bunched and then fastened, the loose end could be readily draped.
Change in the dressing style of Indian Men:
Dhoti-kurta was the traditional and humble way of dressing for Indian men. However, during the British Raj, due to the broad classification and a large number of people following the same dressing style, several men adapted the shirt-trouser styles that the Sahibs wore. Wearing shirts and suiting up meant that they would be favored and thought that it signified literacy since clothing became a symbol of the position one held in the society.
With India becoming more globally relevant compared to its pre-independent phase, the global influence impacted fashion in the country as well. Today, 75 years after independence, fashion has no specific origin as Indians wear clothes from all around the globe and keep their traditional trend flag flying high. Traditional Indian clothes are appreciated all around the world that speaks of a rich past and culture. Indian women can be seen rocking crop tops and shorts with the same dignity like they carry sarees and kurtas. Men can be seen wearing shirts and trousers as well as kurta pajamas.
The people of our nation found a voice through clothing. That is why, no matter the modifications, Indian Clothing will always have a special place in our heart and also in the world.