Just because I wear the odd kurta and churidar does not mean I’ve gone all ‘effnic’. It means that I wear clothing that is sensible for the climate, that is easy and comfortable to move around in, and even better; it is cheap and easily updated/replaceable. For someone such as myself that sometimes works in an NGO environment, it means that I also feel culturally sensitive if I have to visit one of our communities.
And surely, who can resist the variety of colours, fabrics, designs and combinations that makes Indian style clothing a joy to wear? For someone who only used to wear black, I now love experimenting with looks - by mixing up my colourful churidar/kurta or salwar kameez tops and bottoms. It’s fun! Some of the embroidery and workmanship to be found on Indian clothing is to die for - although you may have to be careful how you wash it. And I love the array of Indian designers now appearing on the worldwide platform, who create ranges with western influences.
I have entitled my post ‘What not to Wear’ because I do want to highlight what I consider unacceptable ethnic apparel in India. You know what I am talking about – you see it mostly on Goan beaches and on the touristy streets of Colaba. The ‘Look’ - which consists of elephant print balloon pants (for both women and men), saggy vest tops and dreadlocked hair. Ugh, what would Audrey Hepburn have said about it all? (I am a devotee of elegant 50s fashions when I am not wearing kurtas and leggings!). Even as a university student, it never once occurred to me to look like I hadn’t washed for two weeks – and when I did go to Goa as a 20 something year old, I stuck to my normal shorts and t-shirt. I’m sorry but I just don’t get why you have to look like a hippy if you visit India – after all, do you see any locals walking around dressed like that?
|WRONG!! And have a bath young lady!!|
So now we have got that out of the way, I would like to recommend to you some of my favourite clothes shops in Mumbai. These shops sell clothes that are mostly for everyday wear and they are all very reasonably priced by western standards. The sizing is ‘good’ in most of these shops - as I am no longer a UK size 12 myself, I am used to shop assistants coming up to me and saying “yes mam, we have that in wery wery big size”. Yeah great, thanks a lot.
|Anokhi - Western styles |
with ethnic prints
Next on my list in Anita Dongre. This is a retail group that also encompasses AND and Global Desi - with Global Desi being the most ethnic and affordable line, AND being mid range, western collection (see pictures below). Anita Dongre’s label itself, is a mixture of high-end Indian formal wear and clothing with an ethnic/western bent. Within the Anita Dongre range is ‘Grass Routes’ which I love – beautifully made, some of it is plain with the odd embellishment - but totally wearable in most daytime situations. She also has a slightly more expensive line called ‘Inter-Pret’ which does well for more formal events. I bought a beautiful navy blue jersey dress with chiffon sleeves and beading around the neck and wrists for about 4,900 Rs, which I wore to the Bourbon Street Bash. And I have bought absolutely loads of clothes from Global Desi. Admittedly these are a lot more ethnic – with bright colours, Indian prints and Indian shapes such as kurtas and salwar kameez. But the tops are great value – usually no more than 1,600 Rs (£20) and the leggings to co-ordinate with your tops are usually only around 650 Rs (£7). I haven’t had to throw anything away that I’ve bought from this line in the last year – it’s all well made.
|Ritu Kumar - always elegant|
|Biba - colourful and traditional|
Biba – a brand that was famous in the 70s and now produces western clothes for UK branches – is completely different in this country. It makes Indian clothing in typical shapes – kurtas, salwar kameez, anarkalis etc. However, everything is made in stunning bright printed fabrics with funky designs. If you ever want something a bit different – perhaps you are going to an Indian wedding or event, then this is a good place to start looking. It also does a range for youngsters. It’s all very well priced and well made.
Finally – and another place where I’ve bought some great stuff is Bandej. Their main shop is actually
in Ahmedabad – which I discovered on a trip there and where I went a little wild buying up flowing linen tops and an anarkhali for a wedding. The Mumbai outlet is in the shopping centre at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Santacruz. It doesn’t carry as much stock but they still have a small array of colourful designs with western touches. In particular are the dresses that are made of a knitted cotton material – quite heavy – that would do in an English winter. Bandej is also a good place to find clothing for that special Indian occasion. Their embellished, ankle length anarkhalis are stunning.
Do let me know in the comments section if you have any favourite Indian clothes shops or designers - I will be doing a Part II to this post some day!