Hello and greetings to all,
Fashioning Identities is soon going to launch its print magazine called WEAVE. Please click on the following link to have a look at its COVER PAGE.
Hoping you will love it.
Feedback is very welcome.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
(ECO-FASHION RANGE BY VAN HEUSEN)
Organic cotton trousers, jute bags, vegetable dyed dresses, fairly traded – these words might not sound as sexy but fashion brands and designers are now making high fashion and couture lines keeping the environment in mind.
Designers and brands world over are now creating eco-friendly products to make our closets prettier and safer. The world’s consumption rate today is undeniably something to worry about. Products are discarded before they are entirely consumed. In times of rapid consumption and the deteriorating environmental conditions what is the most important thing we need? The obvious answer is eco-friendly products. The use of eco-friendly or ‘going green’ products is an important step in protecting the environment. And these eco-friendly products not only help the environment but also protect the consumer. “The use of garments made by organic fabrics not only helps protect the environment from pollution, it also reduces the skin related health issues due to various dyes used in clothes and their reaction to the fibres in various climates,” says Vikash Kumar, Senior Merchandiser, Men’s Department, Gokuldas Images.
The fashion industry is now doing its part in promoting eco-friendly products and many brands are now producing lines using fabrics that are organically grown and using socially responsible manufacturing processes. One of the companies leading the green revolution is Van Heusen. Janet Arole, Media Relations Executive at Van Heusen spoke on the subject of eco-fashion and their recently launched eco-friendly clothing line. “Limited resources and increasing productivity has put the natural environment around us under tremendous pressure. Mother Nature is straining to stay alive. Reason enough for Van Heusen to get serious about the eco friendly path,” says J. Arole. They have launched a line of formal, semi-formal and casual shirts for both men and women in various styles and colours.
(ECO-FASHION RANGE BY VAN HEUSEN)
The question to ask is can eco-friendly fashion be regarded as trendy? There is not much experimentation with looks due to the simple nature of fabrics used to produce these lines and not many people like wearing clothes made by organic cotton or hemp for example. “Eco-fashion is not a compromise; the reality is that everyone is learning to work around its constraints,” says J. Arole. According to her, eco-fashion is an extremely misunderstood concept and as long as you are giving the consumer what they want it’s alright to use these techniques. “Consumers are more than happy to choose the eco option as long as there is no compromise on the look and feel of the garment,” she added.
But what is eco-friendly fashion really and how is it different from other produced garments? It is a kind of fashion that has addressed the needs of the environment as well as socially responsible working conditions. Garments that are produced or made with organic fabrics such as cotton, jute or hemp are considered eco-fashion. The style of such clothing can often range from activewear, outerwear and even haute couture. The fabrics that are grown for these garments are free of any pesticides. There has been growing evidence that chemicals often remain in fibres while growing the fabric. Thus non usage of these not only protects the environment but also the wearer. “Another element of eco fashion has to do with the way the clothing is manufactured and sold. If the employees making the clothing are not paid a livable wage, or if the working conditions are substandard and hazardous, the clothing fails the free trade practices test,” Ecofashionworld.com.
The labour which is involved in making these garments have to be given their due share. “A final test of true eco fashion is whether the company is giving back to the community. Are they setting aside a certain portion of their profits for charities or environmental action? Are they working to improve the lives of so-called Third World employees making the garments? Are they planting trees for catalogs or supporting local (or remote) schools? One of the tenants of the eco lifestyle is recognizing the interconnectedness of the earth and its people, and sharing the bounty with those in need,” Ecofashionworld.com.
How is Van Heusen doing their bit to keep up with the eco-friendly laws of manufacturing and production? Van Heusen uses organic cotton to make the shirts for their eco line. “The shirts are made from 100% organic cotton, which is grown in the most natural conditions. Every care has been taken to ensure that no artificial or chemical substances are used. This ensures that soil cycles are protected, not just helping ecologically but also helping humanity at large,” says Janet. The company’s policy of production also includes taking extra care of the manufacturing process of the fabric. “Something as small as weed removal also has been done physically without reliance on chemical killers. Balancing the population of insects by using trap crops to lure pests away is just another example of how committed Van Heusen is to its eco line of shirts. And what better way to reap the benefits of these efforts than to follow natural cycles and harvest the cotton when it’s fully ready,” she added. The company is also doing their bit by donating 1% of every item sold in their eco-friendly range to charity.
Along with popular fashion brands both internationally and in our country fashion designers have also given this issue a lot of importance. Internationally designers such as Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez, and Versace have taken to the path of organic lines. In 2008 at New York Fashion Week “ instead of using traditional fabrics like silk and cashmere, designers sent out clothing cut from (a Japanese fabric made from paper and herbs), peace silk (a process that lets silkworms live out their full life cycle) and hemp. In a dramatic visual representation of recycling, Belgian designer Martin Margiela draped three vintage wedding dresses over a bustier to make a stunning ball gown,” said Anna Kuchment on Newsweek.com. Whilst the term eco-friendly fashion might have been a well known and tried concept in the West our Indian designers have not been far behind in a mission to support the environment. The term was made popular when fashion designer Anita Dongre launched her collection ‘Grassroot’ at Wills India Fashion Week. Since then on other fashion designers such as Narendra Kumar, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rocky S and Naina Shah have also jumped on the environmental bandwagon.
(SALMAN KHAN AT VAN HEUSEN INDIA MENS WEEK 2009)
Van Heusen had also launched the first ever mens fashion week in India in 2009, called Van Heusen India Mens Week. “It was overwhelming to see the kind of response we received in the first year of Van Heusen India Mens Week. Van Heusen India Mens Week in its 2nd year is bigger in terms of more shows, more designers, and a larger platform for fresh talent. Our endeavour each year is to make VHIMW a coveted Fashion/Lifestyle event,” says Janet. She also said upon being asked about which designers would be showcasing their collections this year in the show that it was too early to say. So would we be expecting an ‘eco-fashion’ theme in this year’s edition of the fashion week? Only time will tell.
With an already successful line of eco-friendly shirts would they be extending their eco techniques into other lines of clothing as well? “At this point, we’re still on the learning curve, and may be premature to say that we will extend to all other lines immediately. However, the long term vision is to try and extend the eco promise to a much wider level,” says Janet. The company also realises that eco-fashion being very newly commercial in the market will take a little time before it reaches its true potential. “While Eco fashion has trickled down mainstream fashion, it still represents a very small percentage of the market,” she added.
(Model walking at Van Heusen India Mens Week)
Images Courtesy: Van Heusen, Google.
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
Fashion blogging may just be a recent phenomenon in India but it’s catching on well with the masses.
India is not only home to a large pool of talented designers but also writers that are up to all things ‘fashionable.’ Despite being a fairly new practice, fashion bloggers are gaining more and more recognition in the media. “Characteristic to the world's largest democracy, I imagine unbiased expression through fashion blogging is here to stay in India,” says Ruhi Sheikh, author of fashion blog Republic of Chic. “Lately, we've had a lot of encouragement from the Indian media and are thrilled at the recognition,” she added. With the arrival of luxury brands and magazines such as Vogue, GQ and Harper’s Bazaar, the term fashion has taken on a new meaning. Everyone wants to be more informed about what is going on in the industry. Hence the magazines and brands have forayed into the Indian market at a time when the consumer is more open to change and is willing to spend more time and money on acquiring them. That’s where fashion blogging has also been able to capture a niche market. While some people are not quick enough to get the latest magazine issues, bloggers already have enough information online discussing fashion and its ‘current’ aspects along with the happenings of the industry. Also it feels great to sit in the comfort of your home or anywhere in the world where you can access the internet to know more. In 2007 out of a population of 1 billion in India there were just 8 million internet users out of which only a meagre 27% read or even checked any fashion blogs. As of 2010 the numbers have increased to a roaring 32 million and 62% of the users accessing fashion blogs.
(Work by Vintage Obsession)
But it didn’t start off as well. Fashion blogging was referred to as vanity publishing in India initially. It was just a platform for people to discuss their personal opinions or likes and dislikes about a particular subject. None took them seriously and the practise was considered a futile pastime. “When we started blogging, in all seriousness, it was just for fun – a place to discuss fashion and throw opinions, views or verdicts at each other. Once it began to take off, we found that we were in a niche that was still quite unexplored and so we decided to make the blog a go-to place for all things fashion with relevance to the Indian scene,” said authors of the blog High Heel Confidential in an interview on blog.blogadda.com. But it has reached a stage where blogger opinions are considered valuable in assessing the state of the fashion industry. “Journalism plays a very important role in upbringing the fashion industry to its actual means,” – Abdul Halder, Fashion Designer.
(Work by Wearabout)
Whilst India is just waking up to this new found writing freedom, the West has had a strong practise of blogging for years. Fashion bloggers have gained prestigious statuses and are often front rowers at renowned designer runway shows. One such very interesting success story is Tavi Gevinson, American fashion blogger. She was 11 years old when she started blogging and now at age 13 she is regarded as the ‘frontline of fashion.’ Who would have thought that a teenage blogger would have received that kind of recognition and respect for her opinions and what she discussed on her blog. So while people in every walk and age of life succeed in their blogging careers, India is rapidly recognising the virtual pen power of bloggers. How confident are our fashion bloggers of this new found success and recognition. “Any new phenomenon is a slow process but we are definitely getting there,” says Smrithi, author of blog, Vintage Obsession. There are also confident reports in the media which state blogging is a new profession reaping and earning ‘business’ like benefits. In an online edition of The Hindu newspaper, journalist Sandeep Dikshit says, “India's blogosphere is bucking the worldwide trend and emerging as a nascent "fourth estate" by itself.”
(Work by Republic of Chic)
Social media has done wonders for every kind of business. And as far as the fashion industry is concerned it has made it have a more personal touch with all kinds of people. Arenas like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter are successful ventures that help educate and market fashion as a live entity. “Social media is a game-changer,” says Fox Rothschild Fashion Law Practice Group chair Staci Riordan on www.hollywoodtoday.net/. “It gives companies the ability to by-pass the traditional gate keepers of fashion. Social media will change the way clothes are marketed and sold, bringing what’s in stores closer to what’s in season as well as allowing customers to purchase the looks they see on the runways, or on TV, as soon as the show is over.” Riordan is the founder and editor of the Fashion Law Blog (http://fashionlaw.foxrothschild.com). Designers such as Burberry, Marc Jacobs, and even Prada have streamed fashion shows live for the world to see. A blog is a social media phenomenon that has helped push forward the industry in many ways.
(Work by Vintage Obsession)
Weave spoke with three thriving fashion bloggers in India that have been receiving rave reviews in newspapers and magazines; Ruhi Sheikh from blog Republic of Chic, Smrithi Rao author of Vintage Obsession and Manou who created the blog Wearabout. They all started their blog in early 2010 and have numerous followers from all over the world who read their blogs to know more about their take on the Indian and international fashion scenario. This has definitely given a boost to these writers to churn out more and more interesting articles everyday to keep the reader hooked on. From street style, to DIY tips, trends, latest designer goodies, and snippets from beautiful locales in India these fashionistas speak on all. “The fact that Indian fashion is so global right now is proof enough of the evolution that’s happened here,” says Smrithi.
(Work by Republic of Chic)
Republic of Chic is a joint blog that was started by sisters Ruhi and Faiza Sheikh and it discusses “a visual diary of our daily outfits, a handy tool for both self-indulgence and more importantly, self-reflection. It is also a place you can come to for inspiration, focussed mainly on unexplored Indian boutiques, stimulating street style both ethnic and urban, and little known Indian designers and models” – Ruhi Sheikh. Whereas for Vintage Obsessions writer, Smrithi Rao who is obsessed with all things vintage as the name suggests – her blog initially started out as a forum where she expressed her individual fashion style. “Right now the blog is about easy to do fashion projects and everyday chic looks. Of late readers have been submitting there pictures as well which get featured in the street style section.” Manou on the other hand, the author of Wearabout says “I was living in Mcleodganj, Dharamsala from August to November 2009. I noticed people on the street, local Tibetans & Tourists and in spite of a huge contrast in their dressing style they all looked colourful and interesting. I started photographing them. So, I was already clicking street fashion oblivious to the existing street fashion blogs and then a friend introduced me to a Japanese magazine called Fruits by Shoichi Aoki which gave me a direction and then I discovered Sartorialist, Face Hunter and many other fashion blogs but none from India and thus I decided to start a blog of my own.” All three of them have extremely distinct writing style but all our driven by one common force – their love for fashion in any way or form.
Bloggers are bringing Indian fashion to the forefront in various ways. They are discussing it and its aspects more openly to make the reader aware of its changing face. Its perception has been changing in recent times. What opinions do our bloggers who write about the industry think about that? “I'm resisting the idea that Indian fashion has been a victim of western influences. Although monkey sees, monkey does is deeply ingrained in us as a cultural thing. Indian fashion has managed to keep its essence intact where tradition, modesty and the elegance that comes from them are concerned,” says Ruhi who blogs about Indian fashion consistently. Manou expresses excitement at the thought of how big and fast Indian fashion is developing but feels “it’s not working much for the masses yet.” Smrithi seems to have utter faith in the ability of designers to churn out one draped wonder after another but feels that so much talent at times is not big enough to support their labels and often “fade away among the deluge.” Whilst Indian fashion is fast progressing into a burgeoning industry with some obstacles to cross – blogging in India is trying to reap its benefits too.
(Work by Wearabout)
But how effective is fashion blogging as an authority to speak on fashion in India? The debate of whether blogging is a form of journalism has been in discussion for a while now. Many authors on online articles protest that blogging is not serious journalism. It is just a platform to express personal views on a personal webpage. But the power that comes with a blogger can sometimes be restricted in journalism. As a blogger you are the editor for yourself and no one comes in between your opinion and what you can post online. Whereas in journalism they tend to concentrate or mention things in a biased light. All the three bloggers are not just open to just merely discussing the Bollywood brigade that are more often than required show stoppers at catwalk shows. Whilst the media flocks to fashion shows with renowned celebrity and makes them the centre of attention for fashion trends the three bloggers believe that street fashion is a form of unbiased expression that celebrates freedom of fashion in India and not just catwalk shows that are attended by the gliteratti. “Street fashion has completely inspired me. I am always noticing what people wear or how they wore something differently. The kind of inspiration I draw is from everywhere. From women working in a quarry - I love how they layer and mix different fabrics and colours (though it’s more of a functional thing for them) to high fashion girls I mostly meet,” says Smrithi. Manou whose blog is mainly inspired by everything on the streets of India is thrilled at the question of how street fashion is inspiring people. In fact through his blog he tries to bring to the forefront people in smaller areas of India that are unaware of the fact that they are actually creating fashion statements by what they wear. His images of people in Mcleodganj and how they remain unaffected with every season be it winter or summer reflects their carefree nature. They dress in the same colourful and enthusiastic way – which clearly shows how people on the streets are extremely confident of their outer wear and don’t believe they are being judged by anyone. Street fashion in other words is free flowing. Ruhi feels that street fashion is “a gentle education in fashion and individual adaptations of popular trends. I find it more accessible than runway fashion and most inspiring.”
(Work by Republic of Chic)
Whether people debate the authority of fashion bloggers in India it is still a practise that encourages people to be more confident of themselves and their style sense. Fashion blogging has also helped many women know more about styling and dressing up. it has helped educate on various subjects and Smrithi says, “women of all age follow fashion, I get mails from women who are 50+ asking for shopping tips.” Fashion blogging is helping people discover a new side of fashion apart from luxury and couture shows that tend to be limited to the ‘A’ listers. “The germination and growth of comment and participation by all people, thanks to blogs, has been phenomenal but it would be naive to believe all bloggers are journalists. In the end, we look to fashion industry experts for credible opinions. I must add though, some very insightful fashion bloggers are fast gaining the credibility with both the blogger world and the fashion industry, says Ruhi. She also adds “Republic Of Chic practises to the already style savvy but more importantly, the uninitiated. Advice is a strong word, we do not consider ourselves authorities on fashion, but need a gentle nudge in the right direction? Sure!” Manou adds “I think as bloggers we all have to do a lot of research, talk to people about the subject we are doing the research on and get as much information as we can. And then make a post which is like publishing an article on your own. So the blogger is not just a journalist, but also a photographer if he/she runs a photo blog, a researcher, an editor and the publisher as well.”
(Work by Wearabout)
Fashion blogging in India has reached a pinnacle in recent times. It has not only helped the industry grow more on various platforms but has also helped people in different ways. If you’re interested in starting a blog the time is perfect as the practise is being thoroughly appreciated in India. The first step towards writing a fashion blog is choosing a niche subject to write about. Since the fashion industry is enormous, it offers a lot of areas to discuss. Always begin with selecting a topic you have interest in and that ways you can commence with what you have more knowledge about. People will begin to recognise your writing and will come back to your blog and you may even be termed a ‘specialist in the subject. Sites that you can start blogs easily on are blogspot.com, wordpress and you can even go on magazine websites such as Vogue, Femina, or Harpers Bazaar and post an entry. Also if you are interested in becoming a regular writer travel to various locations and information and research on your subject plus carrying a camera can be very handy to add that extra edge to your blog.
Have a look at http://www.fashiontrendsindia.com/, republicofchic.blogspot.com/ and wearabout.wordpress.com/ for more information on what kind of work our three bloggers are into. Enjoy their writing and get some inspiration if you’ve been waiting to start a blog.