Tradition Fashion Interplay: An Imperative for Identity and Continuity
Shalini Sud and Dr Sibichan Mathew
This paper highlights how fashion as a practice can provide a context for crafts to benefit and integrate into mainstream process of commerce and business, within the realms of socially responsible sustainable design environment.
Fashion in its most fundamental definition represents “a highly visual, image based industry’ (Barthes, 1983) and introduces “planned obsolescence’ (Gopnik, 1994) that “powers the economic engine in fashion’ (Brannon, 2005). Perhaps establishing fashion as a socially responsible, sustainable medium of self as well as community expression is challenging. However, “radical innovations in our society can come from a change in the local systems’ (Gwilt, 2009).
Embedded in localized practices are seeds of ingenuity that were traditionally in harmony with the material and social culture. Increasingly many countries around the world are once again re-defining their design identity by referring to traditional practices in design ideology, a reaction away from rapid globalization that obliterates indigenous and encourages one singular identity of cloning.
Fashion as a system in India is rather nascent as opposed to the established fashion system of the west. It has, however constantly drawn upon its rich cultural heritage to carve out a distinct niche in the world of fashion by constantly referring to local cultural practices, values and meanings. An effort has been made to place emphasis on traditional practices incorporated by Indian designers, formulated around the ethos of experiences and local values thereby creating its own fashion vocabulary.
Examples are drawn from various design practices adopted by practicing designers where collaborative efforts between them and artisans have resulted in redefining the vocabulary of fashion identity that is as rich, diverse and exciting as discovering the country it represents. These examples prove that the partnership has further resulted in reviving and integrating the crafts community and artisan, making traditional craft more trendy and contemporary thereby connecting to the young consumers. The continuation of craft practices in a language that connects with generation- Y in India has ensured that the craft survives and remains meaningful. In addition the products created have given a cultural association and a distinct identity to Generation-Y in India as opposed to the “cloning culture’ (Zoom on fashion Trends, 2007) offered by most fast fashion international brands.
These examples show that there is definite potential for such approaches to establish a new direction in fashion that integrates local practices, values and skills thereby celebrating uniqueness, diversity through local resources and systems to establish new identities in fashion practice.