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Inclusivity is the new normal for India’s fashion industry

India’s fashion industry is abandoning conventional standards of beauty by adapting the new outlook and launching campaigns to encourage the idea of being stylish in all shapes, sizes and skin color.

Gone are the days when India’s fashion industry only appreciated the light-skinned, size zero, urban dream. With issues related to diversity and inclusivity gaining center stage, India’s fashion industry is keen on setting the trend ahead with heterogeneous representation of beauty and style. In fact, looks spotted on the digital version of the India Couture Week (ICW) are the most recent manifestation of this upcoming trend. 

On the first-ever digital show of the ICW this year, designer Gaurav Gupta showcased the best of his work on a diverse set of models on his 2020 campaign ‘Name is Love’. Some of the notable mentions include India’s first female transgender model (Anjali Lama), a young lesbian couple and a gay couple hailing from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh respectively.

We wanted to dive into this new young pulse of India. We have been reflecting a lot on this. It is a very inclusive campaign (which showcases) the love between men, women, or how confident a female-trans model can be. – said Gaurav Gupta, the Delhi-based fashion designer, presenting at the ICW event

India’s leading beauty and fashion store, Nykaa, has set the bar high with the launch of its inclusive intimate wear label called Nykd. It offers a range of products that cater to over 30 sizes. Nykaa has redefined beauty and fashion’s scope with its philosophy of focusing on “zero judgment” rather than “zero size”. 

Are we just selling beauty products to women so that, you know, they can fit into this society’s image of being perfect? Absolutely not. – said Adwaita Nayar, CEO of Retail of Nykaa.com 

Women deserve to feel beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Adapting to a structure that accommodates a larger segment of society is the need of the hour. Fashion through the ages has only allowed limited expression for women. Stereotypical notions of beauty, such as long hair and light skin, are fast eroding in a market that wants to see a diverse range of people from all walks of life. The recent trends in India’s fashion industry are geared to promote inclusivity at its finest. The latest to join forces are plus-size models, dusky-toned models, LGBTQ+ activists, and everyone who was considered ‘unfashionable’ thus far.

Nonetheless, the idea of representation of diverse and inclusive people in fashion is yet to be explored. Men must partake in the debate surrounding inclusivity in fashion because women aren’t the only carriers of style in 2020. Male models are yet to gain recognition in the commercial sector, which is still insistent on its love for the fair and masculine Bollywood prototype.

On the bright side, many designers, stylists, and photographers have endeavored to revolutionize India’s fashion industry for the better. There has also been an active effort to reduce the western influence on mainstream fashion in India and incorporate more Indian-centric styles. This brings forth different perspectives on fashion rather than focusing on western discourse alone. 

India’s fashion industry must pave the way for the empowerment of diversity; of minorities and of those who want to feel beautiful in their own skin, size, color and overall personality. India is witnessing an evolution of fashion with more diversity and inclusivity. It will not only help to create an inclusive professional space but also a national campaign for accepting oneself.

Manisha Ray
Manisha Ray
A connoisseur of all things fabulous in life, Manisha is a literature student at Delhi University. She is a keen observer and a quiet thinker. Being unafraid to experiment and dabble with the unknown, she is on an expedition to discover new things.
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