As Savoir Flair continues to investigate new areas of the world where fashion scenes are emerging, we have (so far) uncovered exciting designers and stories in South Africa and Brazil. In the latest installment of the series, we look to India and the conditions that are giving rise to a new breed of modern designers there.
India is a culture divided between tradition and modernity. As a new middle class emerges, income has more than doubled in the country over the past few years. By 2018, over 40 percent of the population will have internet and all the access to consumer goods that this entails. Furthermore, 65 percent of India’s population is under 35 and has a disposable income for the first time. This means the region possesses more purchasing power than ever before, and it’s spending on luxury goods to the tune of $18.3 billion (up from $14.7 billion) by the end of 2016. This shocking rate of growth has led to an outpouring of new talent across the subcontinent.
There are a few key ingredients that make India’s emerging fashion scene a particularly exciting one for the Middle Eastern consumer as well. First, due to the region’s rich bounty of textiles and skilled artisans, even the most sought-after couturier tends to be more reasonably priced in comparison to the rest of the global market. Additionally, the religions and customs of India may be different from those found in the Middle East, but the region’s respect for modesty remains very much the same.
Read on to discover seven designers who are making a significant impact on India’s fashion scene and beyond.
Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva
Ruchika Sachdeva launched Bodice in 2011 after being selected as the Gen Next showcase artist at Lakmé Fashion Week. Now at the age of 28, Sachdeva is considered to be one of India’s most promising talents. Her collections focus on a distinct, missing element in Indian fashion, namely the intersection of daywear and eveningwear. By appropriating formal menswear and blending it with wearable, effortless silhouettes, Bodice collections offer the kind of clothes that stylishly take you from day to night with ease.
DRVV by Dhruv Kapur
Dhruv Kapur’s obsession with androgyny drove him to launch DRVV, a sleek, minimalist label that relies on architectural elements and neutral palettes to bring a strong, modern silhouette to the women of India. Asymmetrical tailoring and deconstructed menswear are the central thesis of his latest work, called ‘Undress Code’. This cleverly named collection offers smart looks for India’s working women (a class that is growing by the millions every year).
While Manish Arora is more of an established name than an emerging designer (he shows at Paris Fashion Week, after all), his is a name too often overlooked by international publications. His joyful, kaleidoscopic palettes border on the maniacal, but he keeps things in check with a heavy dose of technical fabrics, gorgeous embellishment, and a healthy amount of magic. His electrifying collections are feasts for the eyes, so if you enjoy attention like his celebrity patrons (Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj are both loyal fans) be sure to add his name to your list of designers to invest in.
Payal Singhal launched her eponymous label in Mumbai in 1999. Since then, she has become a go-to designer for women around the globe and is considered to be one of India’s most commercially successful designers. It’s easy to see why her work has such widespread appeal: Singhal is particularly adept at transmuting her country’s style codes into clothes that make sense in bustling hubs like New York, Paris, or Mumbai.
Ikai by Ragini Ahuja
Delhi-based designer Ragini Ahuja first appeared on the scene in 2013, and in no time she has become one of India’s most critically lauded newcomers. Her offbeat, quirky label, Ikai, is a favorite among India’s youth and offers irreverent takes on traditionalism. While her silhouettes stay elongated, Ahuja plays with textures, like hand embroidery and appliqués, as well as a wide-ranging variety of whimsical prints.
Pankaj & Nidhi
There is hidden depth to the extremely beautiful clothes created by Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja, but it is only when you get close to the clothes that these delightful details emerge. The duo’s obsession with hand embroidery means every look is painstakingly crafted out of tiny mosaic-like appliqués or intricately woven and layered fabrics that look like prints from far away. The results are beautiful, romantic, feminine, and, most importantly, modern.
Anuj Bhutani Studios
Anuj Bhutani is another exciting young designer who is challenging the status quo in India. His clothes reflect an androgynous aesthetic and provide youthful looks for those interested in his cool blend of streetwear and chic tailoring. Anuj Bhutani Studios offers a solid line-up of versatile, comfortable menswear and womenswear, with the latter category tending to borrow liberally from the boys, that is often done in vibrant, alluring, two-tone palettes.