Rarely have our fashion choices been under so much scrutiny as they have during the ongoing pandemic, which is ironic given most of us have spent the last few months primarily in sweatpants. With the fashion industry upended, the decision of what and where to shop holds more weight than ever, which is why it seemed like the perfect time to turn the spotlight on the women who are championing a new generation of Indian designers.
Apart from being a loyal clientele, these women also support their favourite labels through the work they do as curators, business advisors, advocates and more. Home-grown fashion has become their way of standing out from the crowd, yet fitting in (wherever they might be in the world), supporting the craft community and taking part in the movement to shop more mindfully.
There are plenty of choices for a discerning shopper. There are those like Rashmi Varma, Vaishali S, Payal Khandwala and Medium, who are giving Indian wear a new design vocabulary; labels such as Verandah by Anjali Patel Mehta, SWGT by Shweta Gupta and Saaksha & Kinni, which use traditional craftsmanship to make wearable contemporary silhouettes; and Bodice, Lovebirds, Anomaly, and Ikai by Ragini Ahuja, which create streamlined essentials for the modern woman.
So, the next time you weigh in on what to buy, remember that there's rarely been a more diverse array of options should you choose to shop local.
PATRICIA DHAR, Founder, Armayla
Label love: Anavila, Akaaro, Bodice, D'Ascoli, Eka, Integument, Sartorial by Swati, Divyam Mehta, Suket Dhir, Urvashi Kaur
Signature Style: Easy-to-wear separates and roomy dresses in handloom textiles
London-based Patricia Dhar isn't just wearing a new generation of Indian labels, she's also taking them around the world. A former finance professional, she has hosted Indian designer pop-ups in New York, Greenwich, the Hamptons and London, introducing new audiences to Indian designers. The pop-ups were a natural extension of Dhar's blog Armayla, which she started two years ago to document her adventures with home-grown fashion. She says, "I'm not a model, and I think that makes it easier for people to relate to." Dhar, whose parents are from South Korea but who grew up in the US and lived in Delhi for nine years, discovered Indian fashion through the traditional saris worn by her mother-in-law. The first sari she bought for herself was an Anavila linen version along with pieces from labels like Eka and Akaaro. "The intricate techniques, stunning craftsmanship and sustainable materials that come out of India are mind-blowing. If women love the story and understand it, they appreciate it even more," she says.