Splen­did, Sus­tain­able Styles

Apparel - - Contents -

A look at the out-of-the-box, sus­tain­able fash­ion col­lec­tions show­cased at the Green Fash­ion In­dia Con­fer­ence 2018

for their ex­pres­sion, these com­mu­ni­ties have played a mon­u­men­tal role in mak­ing fash­ion a medium of artis­tic ex­pres­sion that has gar­nered tan­gi­ble value and val­i­da­tion all over the world. And in light of the re­cent le­gal changes to their sta­tus, they are now ca­pa­ble of be­ing open and free in a so­ci­ety that has its tra­di­tions rooted in ac­cep­tance.


In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of Sec­tion 377, nu­mer­ous pub­lic fig­ures spoke out publicly in sup­port of the change. Vet­eran fash­ion de­signer Suneet Verma spoke out in sup­port of the ver­dict, as he had been forced to marry his part­ner Rahul Arora out­side of In­dia for fear of le­gal prose­cu­tion.

“To a large ex­tent, to­day’s ver­dict has kind of re­stored my faith in the In­dian ju­di­cial sys­tem. I think the real democ­racy in the coun­try will only ever be judged by the se­cu­rity and safety of all cit­i­zens. Con­sid­er­ing we are proud of our coun­try for be­ing the largest democ­racy in the world, we re­ally need to kind of live like that as well,” said Suneet Verma in an in­ter­view with Indo-Asian News Ser­vice (IANS). He added, “Every­body, whether they are daily work­ers or some­one liv­ing in a palace, every­body’s right should be rightly their own, which makes them feel se­cure and proud cit­i­zens of the coun­try.”

Sim­i­larly, Padma Shri award-win­ning in­ter­na­tional fash­ion de­signer Wendell Ro­dricks told IANS, “At last, fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of In­di­ans are freed from the tyranny of Sec­tion 377. And at 58, I am no longer a crim­i­nal. God bless the wis­dom of the Supreme Court of In­dia. We are liv­ing through a his­toric time and judg­ment.” Nu­mer­ous other cre­ative peo­ple such as jew­ellery de­signer Akaash Ag­gar­wal and fash­ion de­sign­ers like Man­ish Mal­ho­tra, Gau­rav Gupta and Ro­hit Bal also spoke out in cel­e­bra­tion of the change, with Bal post­ing on so­cial me­dia, “To­day’s judg­ment her­alds a new dawn for per­sonal lib­erty and is a ma­jor vic­tory for the LGBTQ com­mu­nity that has been fight­ing this bat­tle for free­dom.”

It is hard to imag­ine how many peo­ple from all back­grounds and cir­cum­stances have re­mained hid­den for fear of per­se­cu­tion. Since 2009, when the first le­gal bat­tles for equal­ity found foot­ing, thou­sands of peo­ple, young and old, have fig­u­ra­tively ‘come out of the closet’ and made their de­sire for equal­ity known. Many in­flu­en­tial fig­ures in the fash­ion and en­ter­tain­ment world have made it pos­si­ble for main­stream In­dian so­ci­ety to gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of this mi­nor­ity in that time.

And now, as the le­gal sys­tem has done jus­tice to this group, the fash­ion in­dus­try has a higher chance of un­leash­ing its pool of tal­ent to its full po­ten­tial, un­hin­dered and unashamed to pur­sue their ca­reers while be­ing their true selves. We can not only ex­pect resur­gence in cre­ative out­put but also a wave of new tal­ent that is no longer bound up in uncer­tainty and fear. The typ­i­cal trend of tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als leav­ing the na­tion and set­tling abroad, tak­ing their unique tal­ents and abil­i­ties

away from the moth­er­land, was akin to a ‘forced brain drain’. In light of the cur­rent changes, there is a whole new net­work of op­por­tu­ni­ties that is now open, help­ing this tal­ent to re­turn and the new gen­er­a­tion to work to grow even fur­ther.


While for most, the re­scind­ing of Sec­tion 377 may ap­pear to be a so­cial cause with no busi­ness im­pact, they could not be more wrong. The law posed a sig­nif­i­cant hur­dle for sev­eral in­dus­tries such as hospi­tal­ity and tourism, en­ter­tain­ment, and fash­ion. More­over, the law also neg­a­tively im­pacted global per­cep­tions about In­dia’s so­ci­etal sta­bil­ity, dis­in­cen­tivis­ing nu­mer­ous in­vest­ments from in­ter­na­tional play­ers. By chang­ing the law and ac­cept­ing the nat­u­ral di­ver­sity of all peo­ple, In­dian busi­nesses are now re­joic­ing as well.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search from the World Bank, In­dia was los­ing nearly 0.1-1.7 per cent of its GDP in 2012 due to this dis­crim­i­na­tory law. This rep­re­sents over US$30 bil­lion in value rep­re­sented by the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity in In­dia, a fig­ure that is only ris­ing over time. Mar­ket­ing agency, Out Now Con­sult­ing, es­ti­mates that In­dia is home to nearly 60 mil­lion LGBTQIA+ con­sumers who col­lec­tively rep­re­sent nearly US$113 bil­lion in spend­ing power. And for the long­est time, they


have not been catered to as con­sumers on their own terms due to the na­ture of the law. We can now ex­pect this con­sumer de­mo­graphic to have more in­flu­ence in the fash­ion busi­ness, driv­ing trends, styles, prod­ucts and fash­ions in new yet un­known di­rec­tions.


In the fash­ion in­dus­try, this en­thu­si­asm rep­re­sented far more than oth­ers, as not only had a new seg­ment of cus­tomers be­come avail­able for queer-cen­tric fash­ion, but it also started the move­ment to­wards a fash­ion aes­thetic that was gen­der­less, queer, and trans­for­ma­tive–a sig­nif­i­cant global con­sumer trend al­ready in mo­tion. In fact, be­yond fash­ion, many other busi­nesses and brands such as Go­drej, Google, IBM, Tata Group, Cafe Cof­fee Day, Face­book, Flip­kart, Mi­crosoft, Swiggy, etc. have voiced their sup­port for this change.

This not only in­di­cates a holis­tic change that is com­ing up in the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment but also the ea­ger­ness of busi­nesses to en­gage with it for growth and profit. As the in­flu­ence of busi­ness fur­ther acts to nor­malise the per­cep­tions and clear the mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity, we will not only see re­wards in the na­tional econ­omy but also in the very na­ture of our so­ci­ety. And this is a change that will be far more valu­able in the long run than any­thing else.

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