India has a rich and varied textile heritage, where each region of India has its own unique native costume and traditional attire. While traditional clothes are still worn in most of rural India, urban India is changing rapidly, with international fashion trends reflected by the young and glamorous, in the cosmopolitan metros of India. Fashion in India is a vibrant scene, a nascent industry and a colorful and glamorous world where designers and models start new trends every day.
While previously a master weaver was recognized for his skill, today a fashion designer is celebrated for his or her creativity. Young urban Indians can choose from the best of East and West as Indian fashion designers are inspired by both Indian and western styles. This fusion of fashion can be seen on the streets and ramps of the fashionable cities of India. Fashion in India is also beginning to make its mark on the international scene as accessories such as bindis (red dots worn on the forehead), mehendi (designs made by applying henna to the palms of the hands and other parts of the body) and bangles, have gained international popularity, after being worn by fashion icons like the pop singers Madonna and Gwen Stephani.
Fashion in India has become a growing industry with international events such as the India Fashion Week and annual shows by fashion designers in the major cities of India. The victories of a number of Indian beauty queens in International events such as the Miss World and Miss Universe contests have also made Indian models recognized worldwide. Fashion designers such as Ritu Kumar, Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal, Rina Dhaka, Muzaffar Ali, Satya Paul, Abraham and Thakore, Tarun Tahiliani, JJ Valaya and Manish Malhotra are some of the well known fashion designers in India.
Fashion in India covers a whole range of clothing from ornate clothes designed for wedding ceremonies to prêt lines, sports wear and casual wear. Traditional Indian techniques of embroidery such as chikhan, crewel and zardosi, and traditional weaves and fabrics have been used by Indian designers to create Indo-western clothing in a fusion of the best of East and West.
Traditional costumes in India vary widely depending on the climate and natural fibres grown in a region. In the cold northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, people wear a thick loose shirt called a phiran to keep them warm. In the tropical warmth of south India men wear a sarong like garment called the mundu, while women drape 5 meters of cloth around their bodies in the graceful folds of the saree. Sarees are woven in silk, cotton and artificial fibres. Kanjivaram, Mysore, Paithani, Pochampalli, Jamdani, Balucheri, Benarasi, Sambalpuri, Bandhini are some varieties of beautiful sarees from different regions of India. In the dry regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat men wrap and twist a length of cloth in the form of a dhoti around their lower limbs and a shirt-like kurta above. Colorful turbans complete the picture. In the northeastern regions the tribal communities such as Khasis, Nagas, Mizos, Manipuris and Arunachalis wear colorful woven sarong-like clothing and woven shawls that represent the identity of each tribal group. In urban India the salwar kameez and the churidar kameez, are commonly work by women and the saree is worn on formal occasions. Men wear kurtas and pajamas, or a sherwani for formal wear. Western wear such as shirts and trousers are commonly worn by men across India. Jeans, T-shirts, capris, bermudas and various kinds of casual clothing are worn by the young and the young at heart, who are the trendsetters of fashion in India.
Fashion in India is continuously evolving as new designers from leading institutes such as the National Institutes of Fashion Technology continue to redefine the meaning of Fashion in India.