Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Indo-Chini Bhai Bhai


By Karun Philip

When then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Beijing in October 1954, expectations were high that the leaders of the world’s two most populous nations could build a bilateral relationship based on dignity and respect. "The United States does not recognize our two countries [China and India] as great powers," Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong told Nehru, according to archival material released on Sept. 15 by the Wilson Center. "Let us propose that they hand over their big-power status to us, all right?"

India was a new and messy democracy, China an impoverished communist dictatorship. Culturally, politically, and socially, they were worlds apart. Yet for a brief period in the mid-1950s, China and India came together in the spirit of "Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai" (India and China are brothers).

Well, governments of all stripes on both sides have strayed far from their founders’ dreams.

The truth remains. The best thing India and China can do is not to have military provocations that will never really end up in war with nuclear annihilation on both sides the only possible ending to that approach.

Instead, why doesn’t India just become the new USA for China? India should offer completely free imports of commercial components and finished products from China at 0% duty.

The remnant economic isolationism that PM Nehru’s descendants brought on ended up with China growing several times faster than India. Today’s Indian government continue that line of thought and want to supplant China as the United States’ manufacturing base.

That this idea is provenly bankrupt is lost on this aging generation, and its even younger descendants. The solution is not to supplant China as USA’s manufacturing base, but to supplant the USA as China’s market.

A close friend of mine agreed with me, but on the condition that we use China as a manufacturing base only for electronics and the like, but that we are quite capable of making our own shoes and garments, for instance. 

India may eventually become as good as a manufacturing base as China, but where does that leave it? Is the USA the wealthiest country in the world because of its manually intensive manufacturing base? NO!! They are the wealthiest because they only keep things like robotic manufacture of either mass-produced items or custom designed one-off super-specialized products that maybe only ONE customer will buy (for an EXTREMELY high price, of course.)

What both the USA and India need is a Job Skills Training system that is privately funded and managed so that it is competitive and not just a sop from the government money to Training Schools that pay the politicians and bureaucrats the highest commissions on their government handouts.

Job Skills Training needs to be as diverse as Indian culture and the USA’s marketplace. It needs multiple organizations like The Knowledge Investment Tokens Limited ( that organize databases of Training Schools and their effectiveness in whatever geographies and whatever industries in which they specialize.

Let us take the Indian Garment Industry, which was the example my friend brought up. What is it going to look like with a Free Trade Agreement between China and India?

The Future of the Indian Garment Industry

India is a nation of just 29 states, compared to the USA's 50 states. But the numbers change sides instantly once you scratch the surface.

India's 29 states represent 300 cultures each with their own dialect of one of 25 languages. The numbers for people and languages define "Indian" culture, and hence ought to define couture as well.


* Excludes figures of Paomata, Mao-Maram and Purul sub-divisions of Senapati district of Manipur for 2001.

** The percentage of speakers of each language for 2001 has been worked out on the total population of India excluding the population of Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul subdivisions of Senapati district of Manipur due to cancellation of census results.

100,000 to one million speakers:

List of mother tongues by number of speakers:

Each of the languages of the 2001 census subsumes one or more mother tongues. Speaker numbers are available for these mother tongues and they are also included in the speaker numbers for their respective language. For example, the language Telugu (with a total of 81,127,740 speakers) includes the mother tongues of Telugu (with 80,912,459 speakers), Vadari (198,020 speakers) and "Others" (17,261 speakers).[20] The General Notes from the 2001 census define "mother tongue" as "the language spoken in childhood by the person's mother to the person. If the mother died in infancy, the language mainly spoken in the person's home in childhood will be the mother tongue."

The following table lists those mother tongues that have more than one million speakers according to the 2011 census:

It is the year 2020 now. The young people of each of the cultures listed above want modern looking clothes. But they are steeped in their own culture and have no intention of every letting that die. Only evolve.

Now let's take a look at the variety of traditional clothes the above people have designed for themselves over the last 10,000 years.

1.     Assam

The clothing of Assam is as vibrant as it is varied. With several different tribes hailing from the region, there is a range of different ethnic clothing worn in Assam. Most of these are variations of the Mekhela, worn by women, and dhoti, worn by men. The women of the Bodo Tribe wear Mekhela paired with a chadar while women of the Thai Phake Tribe wear a striped girdle called Chiarchin. Many of the traditional wear in the state is made of the various kinds of silk exclusively produced in the region. Silks such as Paat, Eri and Golden Muga are used to make Sarees and Mekhelas.

2.     Kolkata

The women of Bengal wear Sarees of various materials such as silk, Taant Cotton, chiffon, etc. The most popular modern draping method of Sarees originates from the British Capital of KolkataWhite Saree with red border is worn during many religious festivals and are made of cotton. The men of Kolkata wear Panjabi with Pajama or Dhoti. They are usually made of silk or cotton.

3.     Uttar Pradesh

The most common of the traditional clothing of Uttar Pradesh is Salwar Kameez worn by the women. The distinctive style of bottom wear called Churidar originates from this state. They also wear Sarees with various embellishments. The men of Uttar Pradesh wear Kurta and Pajama along with headgear such as Topi and Pagri. Sherwanisare worn by men during festivals and special occasions.

4.     Gujarat

Women in Gujarat traditionally wear Chaniyo and Choli, wearing embellished and embroidered Ghagra Choli and Lehenga Choli for religious festivals such as NavratriDupattas are worn as veils and are called Odhni. The men wear Churidar Pajamas and Kurta, paired with vibrant turbans for formal as well as casual occasions.

5.     Punjab

Ensembles such as Salwar Kameez, ones featuring Churidar, are worn by the women of Punjab as well. Patiala Salwars originate from this state. The styles of this state feature scarves, or Dupattas, that contrast the color of the rest of the ensemble. The women of the state also wear Ghagra while the men wear Kurta Pajamas that sometimes feature the Churidar style as well. They also wear headgear such as Pagri. Punjab is known for its distinctive style of shoes, Juti, that has been adopted by the rest of the country for formal occasions.

6.     Maharashtra

Sarees, paired with Choli, are the ethnic clothing of women in Maharashtra. The men of the state wear Dhoti, paired with Pheta. Their headdresses are made of cotton, silk or wool and are called Pagadi.

7.Jammu and Kashmir

Being a union-territory that is so varied in communities and religion, Jammu and Kashmir is home to a variety of different fashion. Women in Jammu and Kashmir wear Pherans, which have different variations for Hindu and Muslim women. While the Hindu version has narrow sleeves, the Muslim version is characterized by its broad knee length sleeves. Hindu women pair these with a headdress called Taranga while Muslim women either wear Abaya or a headdress exclusive to the state that is tied around the head and pinned. The men wear Pherans meant for them with Turbans. The traditional clothing of Jammu and Kashmir is known for featuring bright contrasting color combinations.


The traditional clothing of the women of Karnataka is Saree. Karnataka, being the most popular supplier of silk in the country, produces Sarees made of Kanchipuram and Kanjivaram Silk, as well as those made of a variety of brocades and chiffons. The men of the state wear Lungi paired with Angavastram.


The most well known of Kerala’s ethnic wear is the Mundu. Worn mostly by men, the Mundu is the state’s version of a Lungi. There are both formal and casual versions of this clothing as well various versions for women. These often have work done on them, with wedding wear having the most intricate crystal embellishments. Sarees are also worn by women in this state and are often made of Kanchipuram Silk or Benarasi Silk and embellished in a similar way.


Ethnic clothing for women in Delhi mostly consists of Salwar Kameez in its different variants and fashion style. They often feature Zardozi embroidery as well as influences from many other parts of India. The men wear Pajama with Kurta or Sherwani. Due to the metropolitan nature of Delhi, ethnic clothing from all parts of the country is seen here.

But the change is a-coming

But even if clothes are the very foundation of local cultures, let's now look and what young modern designers are doing. They are not looking to mimic the West, as some Asian cultures have done. They want evolution, interaction, co-mingling, and above all, Creation.

Finally, the trends of women’s clothing in India is not only their beautiful traditional pieces but the indo-western attires as well. These indo-western designs are now styled with ease with other Indian outfits. Just as the name suggests this is Indian outfit that is matched with a western outfit to get a fusion outfit. The designs and styles are unique and descent with a touch of both trends. Hence those who love experimenting with various trends can try out the indo-western look especially for their Lehenga. Below are some of the modern outfits that you can choose according to your fashion taste and style that have an indo-western twist.

Indo-western Lehenga

As you search to buy online ethnic wear in India you will come across the Lehengas. These traditional party wear outfits have evolved to better stylish and chic trends. The Lehenga is among the few that has numerous ways to wear in a modern fusion twist. Ditch the usual Lehengas in red and maroon colors that have a slit and dupatta to match. To the glamourous indo-western trend that is in pastel and unconventional colors in bridal and regular lehengas. To achieve this fusion look, your Lehenga can have pockets or not. Also, puffs and frills are incorporated in the Lehenga setas well as Indian designs. Plus, most of the time the dupatta is not necessary for the idea is comfortable clothing. Slay with the indo-western Lehenga with a fusion blouse with a backless neck or whichever fusion style you prefer and embrace these new changes.

Indo-western gown 

In this outfit, all you need is confidence to slay this glamorous outfit to a wedding or grand event. The western gowns are upgraded with elements of Indian culture to bring out the fusion twist. By adding traditional embellishments and embroidery to the modern gown you get a truly Indian outfit. These gowns have other ways to achieve the indo-western twists. That is visible with Indian brides and celebrities today as they make their style statements on various occasions. For instant, embroidered jackets, shrug style blouses, use of modern accessories are some of the popular few. Creating a new style with a gown is seen among most designers as they use different color hues, embroidery patterns, and layers and unique cuts. This makes the attire very modern with an Indian twist and vice versa.

Anarkali with jacket

Ditch your dupatta and wear a jacket over your traditional Anarkali for a quick indo-western look. Many styles are now available to style your Anarkali with a jacket. Either it is a long or short jacket or a waistcoat the look is quite a craze among the Indian women. A plain Anarkali with an embroidered long jacket is a common look. Plus, a floor-length jacket with slits is one that is popular too due to the cape style effect that it creates. Furthermore, the type of jacket style you choose depends on your fashion sense and the level of comfort you are aiming for. Embrace this new concept of indo-western fashion to fit in and dress up to the increasingly popular trends.

Indo-western Kurtis

The Kurtis is the most versatile piece of clothing according to the styling options available. It has the most indo-western styles to it that you can adorn to many occasions. The indo-western Kurtis, suits the young to the middle-aged woman and every body type. However, it is important to choose the Kurtis style accordingly to accentuate your curves. For instance, the tunic Kurtis is a perfect blend of ethnic and contemporary wear. They sit effortlessly on your body and slide onto it with much ease. If you desire a Kurti that gives your body a perfect outline the tunic Kurti is the best option. The occasions you can wear this Kurti to is to college, kitty parties and everyday wear. Match with culottes, leggings, and treggings but avoid wearing short tunic Kurtis with full-length leggings.

The maxi dress 

The indo-western maxi dresses show off the Indian haute couture scene by bringing out the essence of culture and the uniqueness of contemporary wear. These floor-length gowns that have fancy embroidery and designs are in fashion right now. They possess an elite vibe with the beautiful out of this world necklines and blouse designs. A lot of design ideas are implemented and experimented with the maxi dress. However, the length varies depending on the wearer’s choice and comfort and the sleeve type as well. Have a maxi dress in your indo-western collection that brings out your personality and fashion tastes perfectly.

Blouse designs 

Blouse designs were a consistent plain type with embroidery and round neck, buttoned and short sleeves. Today with the indo-western growth among Indian outfits. The blouse has had its share to leave a lasting impression in everyone’s eyes. The blouse designs are made in the back, sleeves, necklines and front area. Either it is in gowns, dresses, cholis to give that modern touch. Although the back designs are the indo-western trend right now choose one from the many that will give you a splendid look. Such as the teardrop neck, netted back, sweetheart design among others. 

And men are not left out

the millennial Indian male consumer has developed his sartorial cognizance. But, is there enough supply available for this growing demand?

According to Raymond’s 2018-19 annual report, India’s apparel market is majorly driven by menswear, with it accounting for 43 per cent of the total market. The shift in behaviour is quite visible. From my father going to the local tailor to get his yearly quota of trousers and shirts stitched to my brother spending hours browsing through e-commerce apps to update his wardrobe, there has been a significant change in the way men shop. Rajiv Purohit, lead designer at Good Earth menswear, explains, “#menlovefashion #menlovejewellery #kohlinedeyes #menindrapesaresexy are hashtags I use to describe men’s fashion today. We lost this somewhere with men. Men today are involved and self-aware, like they were until the ’60s. They know what they want to wear, what fits work for them, and how to accessorise and take care of their bodies, inside and out. Even if unsure or apprehensive, men are more willing to experiment today. They are shopping for themselves, and they are shopping for entire looks. As a designer, it’s very important that I give styling ideas on how to mix and match, or dress up and down with the same look.”

In 1989, multi-designer store Ensemble showcased Rohit Bal’s first all-menswear collection. Following this, designers such as Manoviraj Khosla, Raghavendra Rathore, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Cue by Rohit Gandhi + Rahul launched their ready-to-wear lines for men. In 2009, the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) organised the country’s first ever men’s fashion week, in association with Van Heusen. That year was an important one for the industry as designers started breaking away from the kitschy, almost costume-like, approach to fashion and started presenting pared-down silhouettes that would sell on a global platform.

The shows had to be cancelled after a few seasons due to the lack of sponsors, but they opened the market up to a whole new world for menswear — contemporary designs constructed with indigenous fabrics, a unisex aesthetic and Indian minimalism. Fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore weighs in on the evolving menswear segment, “Markets develop as society evolves via technology, lifestyle and governance, alongside the businesses that cater to the market. Compared to a decade ago, the consumer has a higher global exposure, and their expenditure has also grown exponentially. Today, male consumers have a more significant voice in the fashion marketplace. Their dominance in sunglasses, watches, and other leather accessories has seen an upward demand, which makes them the ideal target in the retail multiverse. The bespoke space, in particular, has always been male-dominated. Men have always encouraged designer brands to offer scintillating products and their appetite for customised ensembles has grown considerably.” In 2010, Suket Dhir retailed his first organic menswear line from Good Earth that included uncomplicated separates like jamdani shirts, brocade jackets and bandhgalas. In 2014, Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey presented structured drapes on the runway, which pushed forward the idea of gender-neutral clothing in India. Over the years, veterans such as Arjun Saluja, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, JJ Vallaya and Tarun Tahiliani have steadily built on this contemporary narrative with occasion wear that features androgynous separates, floral prints, embroidered shawls and sequined sherwanis.

A slew of womenswear designers also launched exclusive menswear collections in order to diversify their consumer base. Amongst these were Manish Arora (for Koovs in 2016), Shivan & Narresh Man (2016), Amit Aggarwal (2018), Bodice by Ruchika Sachdeva (2019), and Rimzim Dadu (2019). Streetwear and athleisure also found prominence on the runways, which led to the launch of cutting-edge labels such as Bhaane (2012), Huemn (2012), Sahil Aneja (2012), Dhruv Kapoor (2014) and Nought One by Abhishek Paatni (2016). In October last year, Good Earth Sustain launched its first menswear collection Abeer. “I want men to be dressed as beautifully as women. Abeer is a global man, rooted in tradition and, hence, storytelling is an integral part of his life. I wanted to reintroduce men to my love for India and handcrafted fabrics and techniques and how these looks can be an integral part of everyday lives and not just the special moments,” says Purohit.

Design intervention was not the only factor that compelled the Indian man to elevate his wardrobe from cookie-cutter to idiosyncratic. Pop-culture and the social zeitgeist also played a major role in transforming the notions of traditional masculinity. When actor Ranveer Singh stepped out in a skirt for the Bajirao Mastani promotions in 2015, people sat up and took notice. Here was a man (who was otherwise the epitome of what one could define as conventional Indian masculinity) wearing a quintessentially feminine silhouette and owning it. This appearance was followed by some of his other iconoclastic and, sometimes, bizarre looks that altered the rules of menswear in the country at a mainstream level. Men started searching for something cool and different — something that brought out their individuality.

The launch of contemporary multi-designer menswear stores — Curato in Mumbai (2018) and Dapper in Kolkata (2019) — was a big step in organising the sector’s retail industry and bringing all the options under one roof. Curato was launched in October 2018 in Mumbai by Shibani Bhagat and Tanisha Rahimtoola due to the lack of a unified retail platform. “During my wedding preparations, all the men in my life grappled with the same problem of where to shop. There was no customised experience for men, where they could find the best collections and a variety of apparel, all under the same retail space. We found ourselves making countless trips to individual designers or tailoring units at multiple bespoke outlets from all over India, which was both time-consuming and expensive. That’s when we realised there was a prominent gap in the market,” says Bhagat. Today, Curato stocks close to 40 brands, including brands such as Khanijo, Anurag Gupta and Arjun Kilachand, which span over a spectrum of occasion wear, athleisure separates and accessories for men. Rahimtoola explains, “Our modest yet unique enterprise was conceptualised to fight the rigid fashion binary. We don’t promote anti-global fashion but what we would like to call the ‘owing our own’ concept.” The gap between affordability and luxury is also being filled by upcoming labels such as Andamen, Bareek and Rouka by Sreejith Jeevan. And when we say affordable, we mean separates that fall under 3,000 rupees.

Today, Instagram has become a key player in changing the landscape of menswear, making it inclusive and one-of-a-kind. Enter Jaywalking, a label championing streetwear, that doesn’t show its models’ faces in the posts — only the clothes. The label’s designer Jay Ajay Jajal wants consumers to feel that anybody can wear the outfits. Tailor & Circus, a body positive unisex inner-wear label, doesn’t believe in posting overtly sexual images on the ‘gram. Along with this type of consciousness, there is also a heightened sense of responsibility amongst contemporary labels to help create a sustainable economy and circular supply chain for their garments. In October 2018, Lota, an ethical fashion label that works with textile scraps, sold their debut collection of ‘wasteful shirts’ on Instagram through an auction. Delhi-based designer Jenjum Gadi works with native handlooms and, sometimes recycles his old collections to create his menswear line. In order to augment socio-economic sustainability amongst the rural and urban sectors, Raymond Ltd. joined hands with the Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in 2017 to launch Khadi by Raymond — India’s first branded khadi label for men.

So how would you categorise the menswear segments in the country today? Business, casual and wedding wear? Well, menswear has definitely moved beyond this established catalogue. Today, men have a whole spectrum of personalities to choose from — minimalist or maximalist, athletic or eclectic, as long as it’s true to themselves. Choose what works for you. I know a friend who has only black T-shirts in his wardrobe and a colleague who makes his own shirts. My brother has every possible shade of blue pants in his closet and, that too, in two different weaves — cotton twill and denim. He understands that both the fabrics fall differently on his body. Another acquaintance has a sizeable collection of white sneakers because he believes that they work with everything else that he owns. It is 2019, and the rules of dressing up are that there are no rules. Fashion is a powerful tool that not only makes a statement but also starts meaningful dialogues and, if done right, can subvert conventional perceptions.

The system of menswear retail in the country is clearly going through a shake-up, and while brands are still on the fringes, they are testing the waters of this disruption and experimenting with their approaches to redefine Indian masculinity.

The future of the garment industry in India may not Mahatma Gandhi's handloom, though that machine is one of the most fascinating of technologies that is in many ways superior to the most modern, say, German manufacturing machinery.

India should not care if garments are made in China or by robots. India is, was, and will always be one thing: culture. I wish young Indian designers all the best and have wonder at their talent for social evolution while retaining their core principles. 

Principles such as Ahimsa should be expressed in fashion. Principles like cross-cultural acceptance of influence from others from ALL over the world expresses Tolerance.

And there are many technologists who are building machines that can make these unique designs as one-of on demand, or mass-produced for 1.3 billion people to wear different clothes each of the 365 days of the year.

This is one of the dreams of The Kitcoin Club (

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