Bling it on!
From the Mahabharata era then to the Indian film industry now—accessories have played a vital role in glamorising Indian apparel. Join Brinda Suri as she explores the trends in the accessories industry with the party season in mind.
December heralds the month of neverending parties and festivities and nothing expresses the effervescent mood of this season more than the swish and shine of the clothes one dons. And, what’s an ensemble today without a bit of bling? Once upon a time, gloss and glitter were synonymous only with the Big Fat Indian Wedding. No longer solely restricted to an occasion of the vows, apparel for every event now demands its share of stars and sequins. And if we go by market dictates, the more the bling the better!
WINTER TIME IS ESPECIALLY WELCOMED AS IT IS THE SEASON WHEN EMBELLISHED APPAREL IS LOOKED AT
SHIMMER IS GAINING POPULARITY
Ensemble embellishments have traditionally been an Indian concept. In the times gone by, gota, tilla or zari were a regular on outfits such as saris, pavadais, salwar-kurta-dupattas and lehenga- cholis. Now, the inventory has expanded and surface ornamentations include crystals, pearls, beaded tassels, ribbons, decorative cords, fancy buttons, shells, sequined or beaded necklines and yokes, acrylic beads, natural stones, wooden beads, pom-pom fringes, crochet laces and metal stars, besides the more popular and evergreen sequins ( sitara), metalwork ( silma and nakshi) and glass beads ( katdana). Customer demand is huge and in answer, the markets are teeming with adornments. The wholesaler is a happy man and so is the retailer; with both raking in big profits. Winter time is especially welcomed as it is the season when embellished apparel is looked at favourably. “This is the marriage and party season and our shop is always packed with ladies and boutique owners searching for the fanciest of trimmings for saris, kurtis, suits and lehengas,” says S Jain, Lace Corner, AC Market, Kolkata. “Since the past few years, the business of embellishment has been on the upswing and interestingly, the profile of customers has undergone a change. Earlier, it was usually homemakers who would come to us for laces, gota, zari, etc. Now, we have women from all walks of life, especially young professional women, who like to spend time browsing through the variety on display. Disposable income is high these days and customers are ready to pay up to R 500 per metre for laces; at times the fabric is cheaper than the embellishment used on it. Even bejewelled buttons that cost R 100 or more per piece are hot sellers. This sort of purchasing was unheard of till a few years back,” she adds.
THE READY TO USE MAGIC!
Places such as Bhopal, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bareilly, Surat, Amritsar and
JAZZING UP OUTFITS HAS BECOME EASIER FOR TOP-END DESIGNERS AS WELL AS FOR DARZIS, WITH THE AVAILABILITY OF
READY-TO-STITCHON VARIATIONS OF EMBELLISHMENTS.
Patiala are popular centres that display the traditional style of embellished embroidery. Karigars or craftspersons here, turn out reams of beautifully adorned fabrics and most of these are strictly on order. “Dabka, nakshi and silma are all very time-consuming works. We have a large number of orders but take very long to complete it. This is owing to the paucity of skilled hands because of the tediousness of the work coupled with poor payment structures. If the government or handicraft boards help us out, we can do much better,” says Zeenat at Zari Centre, Bhopal. While traditional work has no comparison, to make it easier for the customer, these adornments are now available as ready-to-stitch-on variations. “The readymade varieties have revolutionised women’s wear. Now be it a high-end designer or a hole-in-the-wall darzi, everyone is capable of jazzing up an outfit,” says Reema Dua, a boutique designer from Kolkata. Agreeing with this fact is Upinder Singh of Modern Creations, a Chandigarh-based retail outlet, “These are busy times. Every woman wants to be seen well-dressed and it’s possible now. I have been in business for almost 30 years but the past few years have been very exciting. Every week, new items hit the markets and the range is mind-boggling. The best wholesale places to source these trimmings are Delhi, Surat and Mumbai.”
When any fashion trend peaks, there is a tendency to overdo it and abuse it. “It’s the same with embellishments now, with many a designer’s and client’s preference tending to be over the top.
This deters many from accepting a trend, although they secretly do harbour the desire to be a part of it,” explains Dua. “I have many ladies coming to my boutique who appreciate bling but don’t want to be counted amongst those who dress in loud, shiny clothing. I simply assure them of embellishing the stars with style,” she smiles. And there are indeed several ways of incorporating the trend in subtle ways. One of the options designers offer is choosing muted metallic tones of gold, bronze, copper and silver as these lend comfortable shine to the outfits. Teaming plain apparel with glittering accessories is another option. “Crystals on your shoes, if used aesthetically, look outstanding. It’s something most of us can carry off, provided we don’t overdo it on our outfits too,” says Mallika S, a Bengaluru-based accessories designer. Explaining the trend for bling, she says, “Television leads to the demand for glitter. Almost everyone wants to look like their favourite soap opera’s bahu— right from the bindis to the footwear they exhibit. According to
EMBELLISHED ACCESSORIES MAY SEEM LIKE A NEW TREND BUT JUTTI- MAKERS AND SEQUIN BAG EMBROIDERERS FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE NATION DISMISS IT AS AN AGE- OLD PRACTICE.
current reports, bling on television has gotten subdued and this is bound to affect the masses too.”
BLINGING UP ACCESSORIES
Apart from dressing up ensembles, glitter and shine is making its presence felt in the accessories department as well. So it’s not just your kurta that will flaunt a strip of crystals but your evening bag and shoes will also have more than a hint of glint. Though it may seem like a new drift, jutti- makers in Patiala and sequin bag embroiders in Bhopal dismiss it as being an age-old practice. “We have always had women asking us to make pouches identical to the embroidery we design on their outfits,” says Zeenat. “The difference is, earlier only high-end clients would be able to afford matching shoes and bags. However, today’s ready-to-use embellishments have made it easier for just about anyone to order accessories with a design they have a fascination for,” she adds. Putting a cap on it all, Dua says, “Let’s admit it, television or not, we Indians have always loved bling. We just need to learn not to overdo it. The markets will push a lot of stuff; we should pick and choose and not decide to load ourselves with everything.” So the message is loud and clear: let the bling twinkle in your wardrobe, stylishly and subtly.