Designer dresses, branded bags, street-side shirts, boho babes or filmi fad... What is fashion for you? Back in Dehardun or Delhi (where I mostly spent my summer vacations), either the Vuittons, Armanis and Bals or Kapoors and Khans determined what people should wear at the next big party. I am sure most of us have one filmi outfit hidden in the closet.
My natural instinct when I meet someone is to check out their clothes, not to judge them but just to understand what fashion means to them, and somewhere also look for inspiration. Once I was allowed to have a say in what I wore — I would spend hours hopping from one shop to another in search of the perfect outfit. You will never catch me wearing kuch bhi clothes! Clothes, I believe, are the way of telling the world who you are. Sounds philosophical, but I believe in it.
Often, not happy by what was available at local malls and the only Tibetan market in Dehradun, I would mix and match what was available in my closet. Once, I cut my T-shirt and turned it into a funky racer back and paired it with pajamas; for my cousin’s wedding, I wore a ghaghra with a hand-painted tee-shirt (I got many orders for similar tees); I accessorised jeans and top with ethnic silver jewellery. So, you get the drift, right? Somewhere along, that gave me confidence to believe that I had to do something in fashion industry.
After coming to Mumbai, I realised there’s more to fashion than what I thought and here, each one has a unique style. If there are women who dress only in latest designer wear, there are many who prefer comfort over trend and class over style. In between the wide fashion spectrum are those who wear clothes to draw attention, some who dress for work and success, and many who feel highly fashionable even in cheap clothes bought from local bazaars. And then there are people like moi, who love to experiment and go beyond fashion fads.
I love the fact that here you don’t have to conform to any standard of style, just like one’s thoughts. In Mumbai, you can dress the way you like and easily get lost or stand out in the colourful crowd of the city. And to supplement the diverse fashion need, the so-called big bad Bambai is dotted with expensive malls with leading fashion labels as well as sasta rasta stalls trading fashion in seconds. Fashion is achievable for every pocket size.
When I arrived in Mumbai, I went crazy, and slightly overwhelmed, exploring the big guns of Indian and international fashion industry. But what really elevated my fashion experience was visits to local fashion havens — Mangaldas Market, Hill Road, Fashion Street, Colaba Causeway and the ubiquitous train vendors selling trendy yet cheap stuff. There’s never been a day I stepped out and returned home without a shopping bag in hand. I hope Dad doesn’t read this.
So, move over, Milan, Mumbai is my fashion capital. I’ve discovered what I always believed — fashion is not what you wear, it’s what you feel.
Catch the interesting tale of Meera Sehgal in Girl In The City on bindass'’ Facebook page every Thursday at 7.30 pm