'Indian fashion industry booming thanks to middle class'

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Indian fashion industry is booming because of awareness and the purchasing power of the middle class, says designer Vikram Phadnis who has been part of the industry for two decades.

"Indian fashion witnessed rapid growth with each passing era. In fact, there is a shift in fashion and trends nearly every six months. This has been a prominent aspect of the Indian fashion industry," Phadnis told IANS in an interview.

"The awareness and purchasing power of the middle class have resulted in a sudden boom. Also, the influx of IT companies has brought a rapid change in work culture," he added.

According to a report by the Centre for Macro Consumer Research of the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), India will be home to 53.3 million middle-class households by 2015-16.

The annual spending power of Indian cosumers is expected to be in excess of $1 trillion by 2021, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report said. The designer also feels that the global scenario is yet another influence that has altered Indian fashion.

"International brands entering the Indian market and selling at economical prices are improving the growth of brand awareness in India in a big way," he added.

Another factor that worked in the fashion industry's favour is that it transformed itself with the changing times.

"Earlier, the fashion styles and trends were restrained by geography, culture, customs and nationalities," he said.

Citing the example of sari, he said that the nine-yard fabric has been a traditional Indian garment, but with the merger of global fashion, the style, theme and designing of saris had undergone a sea change.

"As a result, saris now have a global recognition and are donned by celebrities all over the world," he added.

Phadnis started his career as a choreographer before rising to fame as a fashion designer. His clothes have adorned the wardrobes of the biggest names in the glamour industry.

"Despite having no formal education in design, I managed to tailor a solid fashion career. Creativity is inborn and doesn't require any certification," he said.

"We stop progressing when we start limiting ourselves. Everyone has ups and downs and so did I, but my obstacles have helped me to grow and overcome them. It's difficult to achieve success, but not impossible," he said.

From the Indian glam world, the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, and Akshay Kumar have endorsed his designs and made a style statement at various occasions.

He is one of those rare designers to have worked with some of the biggest names in the hallowed echelons of the fashion industry and Indian cinema.

As Indian cinema celebrates 100 years, what are the most significant changes it has undergone?

"Fashion has definitely changed over the years, but as history repeats itself, so do fashion trends. The Anarkali-style shirt worn by Madhubala in the 1950s is still a rage among homemakers as well as Bollywood celebrities. Bell-sleeve blouses worn by Dimple Kapadia in 'Bobby' are again in vogue with all college girls flaunting them," Phadnis explained.

With some of the finest fashion shows to his credit, Phadnis has always endeavoured to achieve a synthesis of popular and avant-garde preferences. This has been the unique selling point of his bridal wear, pret-a-porter and couture wear.

"It gives me immense pleasure that everyone - from a beauty queen to a girl-next-door - adorns my creations and looks truly captivating," he explained.

The zenith of his true potential has yet to be achieved and Phadnis still has so much to offer and that includes directing a movie, which is "under process".

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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