In India, the 40`s was a decade marked by the World War II and the also the ensuing post independence era with the result that women`s clothing was simple and functional. In India, the fashion scenario very confusing since, the century had conflicting ideologies and the matter of Indian independence was concerned. With freedom of speech and movement, fashion remained graceful and refined. Mahatma Gandhi had started fashion `anarchy` of sorts with his khadi movement; these garments became a rage giving a boost to the sagging handloom industry.
However, we may find that the fashion trends in the post independence era within high society, was strongly influenced by the British with the result that western clothes became a status symbol. Due to the western influence, the use of angarkhas, choghas and jamas diminished considerably by this time and they had been replaced by the chapkan, achkan and sherwani. However, the women even though were accepting change, continued to wear their peshwaz, kurtas, ghaghras and odhnis at religious and ceremonial festivities, sometimes using imported fabrics but using mostly traditional handwoven fabrics. Post independence, one could notice that the fashion in the rural areas took a back seat. However, the sari and choli with touches of the west, regained supreme with the latter emphasizing the sleeves. The salwar/kameez too made their presence felt in the distant background.
The 50`s saw the dawn of art colleges and schools, which became places of fashion designing, and hence in silhouette, narrow waist and balloon skirts with bouncing patterns were in vogue. Even, the Indian woman turned bold but still true to her national dress. Here, the blouses become smaller but they were quite decent. The focus was on the neckline, which was decorated with embroidery and borders.
The 60`s one of the most shock-filled decades of the century saw fashion and lifestyle changes that reflected the changing passions of the times. In the 1950s, the underwear for men, what had once been a simple, white piece of clothing, not to be shown in public, suddenly became a fashion statement. By 1960, men`s underwear was regularly printed in loud patterns or with images ranging from messages to cartoon characters.
New types of materials such as plastic film and coated polyester fabric got popular in this post independence year. Tight kurtas and churidars were hovering on the fashion parameters had become popular in bollywood. The mini-skirts too becoming a rage abroad and at the same time, designers understood the need of the moment to launch cheaper, ready-to-wear clothing range. The Indian woman also realized that this combination of national wear could be her alternative to the western dress. The sixties was the era that accompanied synthetic materials like nylons, polyesters and rayon. In this era, even the sari turned into a form fitted array and the choli turned skimpy and daring, giving the women a more sensuous look.
The 70`s is often called the `me decade`, since, it was one of the most revisited and retro periods after independence. In 1971, VIP smashed the men`s underwear market with a shocking advertisement of model Dalip Tahil rescuing a maiden in distress dressed only in briefs and a flowing robe. Since then VIP is a major player in the men and women`s underwear market. With the fitness boom emerging, the first no-bounce sports bra in 1973 was also welcomed by women. Even fashion became another form of self-expression and bold colours with flower prints were adapted in tunics, with shirts and bell-bottoms. This era also saw the kurta shrinking to great heights and the salwar replacing the churidar or even a pair of stretch pants, but the sari and choli was never out of fashion. From the traditional drape, the sari was worn in the coorgi, butterfly or lungi styles. It was however very conventional Gujarati style that was favoured for the sari. The choli almost became invisible to see it. Back less tied up, plunging neckline or just moulded to the figure the choli was once again complementing the sari.
The drug culture was also expanding and it gave rise to the fashion of psychedelic colours, tall hazardous shoes and extreme silhouettes. This century also saw the export of traditional material with the result that export surplus was sold within the country itself and hence, international fashion came to India much before the MTV culture. Synthetics became popular, the disco culture had a profound influence on fashion, and the clothes became as flashy.
The 80`s was the era of self-consciousness and American designers like Calvin Klein became household names. The ready-to-wear fashion revolution came of age with the birth of Indian designers and their labels and the introduction of high fashion houses. Indian designer labels like Ritu Beri, Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Khosla and a host of others shot into the limelight and their creators turned into super stars guiding the dressing preferences of the Indian men and women. Suddenly to be a fashion designer was the most important thing for all young boys and girls. In this era silhouettes became more masculine and the salwar kameez was made with shoulder pads. The salwar kameez took over as the ready-to-wear garment of India in this decade. Even inspired by the angarkha the length of the kurta nearly hit floor level.
Power dressing and corporate look became a dominant dress code. The influence of cable TV became more prominent and the teenage market boomed with youngsters going in for the trendy look, which in turn influenced the elders.
In the mid - 80`s even the Indian male was introduced to the royal grandeur and comfort of ethnic wear giving the kurta, churidar, band gala, sherwani and jodhpuri jacket a fashion boost. It became fashionable to go the ethnic way, not only for ghazal and for qawali nights but also for formal occasions and even to office.
The 90`s the last decade of the millennium was one of the extreme decades. It was discovered that the Indians were able to dress not only in the styles by conforming to the country`s sensibilities but also to western norms. It started as a trickle in the 90s with the advent of Jockey re-entering the Indian market followed by Calida and Liberti Blu in the undergarments section. Then the very high fashion Gossard came for a limited period. The entry of the Marks and Spencer chain stores created a stir amongst the fashion conscious that had been making annual trips abroad to stock up on this popular label. This decade gave way to the drastic pairing down and stripping away in the hands of German designers like Helmut Lang and Jil Sander. As the salwar kameez came into the influence of the satellite channels, it introduced the Indian woman to clothes and looks in a fantastic manner. The decade also saw the revival of ethnicity, with even films becoming more discreet and launching a "back to ethnic" look. Fashion in India was no longer considered just a means to cover the body but also presented the best-dressed image to the world in numerous Indian as well as foreign labels.
The present century`s standard wardrobe includes a large number of garments that are essentially neither male nor female (unisex), including T-shirts, jeans, casual jackets, and many kinds of special sports clothing, such as running shorts and sweat suits. Some of the running fads or trends also include Capri pants, handbags, sport suits and sports jackets, ripped jeans, designer jeans, blazer jackets, and high-heeled shoes. Men and women`s tailored business suits, is regarded as simply two versions of the same basic garment, but they are generally very different in shape and in details, such as on which side the buttons are placed.
Even the tailored suits as business attire are now rapidly giving way to more casual dress. A look at the surviving fancy garments is required in order to see clearly changes in fashion. They are the clothes that show the fullest expression of a style. It is very easy to read current fashion by surveying office and eveningwear. Even stylish clothes are more readily available for study than work clothes. Like people in the past, had tended to preserve best dresses worn for special occasions, today`s generation too have the same attitude towards fashion.
In the 21st century, the lingerie war is raging around the world as brands invade virgin markets and companies pull out all stops to meet the global challenges. Celebrities and stars created their individual looks that helped the lingerie industry. The very ultra Vanity Fair was launched in 2004 in India and finally a Korean Brand Try for men and women in 2004. VIP Company also launched the trendy new men`s innerwear called Frenchie X was aimed at meeting the challenges thrown by the foreign brands. Amul, Lux Cozi, Dollar are some of the names catering to a particular segment of the men`s underwear market in India, while the lingerie segment has its own local brands like Neva, Bodycare, Softy, Lady Care, Little Lacy, Red Rose, Sonari, Feather Line and many more.
In the 21st century, Enamor, another foreign brand and the very chic French brand Aubade opened its only outlet in Mumbai. La Senza will be the next foreign brand that is set to enter the market while Hanes has already broken in with a very unconventional ad campaign aimed at comfort for the Indian male.