Stylish On The Beach
The beachwear and resortwear segments are moving at a break-neck speed, which has even prompted opening of exclusive retail outlets for the categories. Trends for travel and relaxation have evolved manifold and so resortwear and destination clothing have
The beachwear and resortwear segments are moving at a break-neck speed, which has even prompted opening of exclusive retail outlets for the categories. A research.
Decades ago there were just two categories in fashion – Indian and western wear. Then a decade ago these two categories were further divided into bridal and casual wear. When the first fashion week started in India in August 2000 in New Delhi, it was termed as just a fashion week but when two annual fashion weeks were scheduled after the parting of ways between the Fashion Design Council of India in Delhi and Lakmé in Mumbai in 2006, it was decided that they would follow the western format of spring/summer and autumn/winter.
But in March 2010 Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai created a new category in fashion called resortwear and so the spring/summer season title was replaced with summer-resort in February/March each year. The resortwear category gave Indian designers the perfect platform to showcase their creativity since a major part of India has a sunny climate that is ideal for resortwear.
In 2012 the resortwear category prompted a full-fledged fashion week called India Resort Fashion Week with Goa as its base. Pallav Ojha created the India Beach Fashion Week brand in 2015 and in 2018 the beachwear and resortwear segments are moving at break-neck speed, which has even prompted the opening of exclusive retail outlets for these two categories.
RESORT WEAR RAMPS UP
The pioneer of resortwear in India has to be designer Wendell Rodricks who set up his studio in Goa, his home state in 1993 and brought the languid, easy, style on the ramp from his first fashion show for the Glitterati fashion house in 1990.
The relaxed, uni-size fashion, Wendell presented was loved by both sexes and nearly two decades later has inspired many designers. Keeping his beautiful surroundings Wendell explains his design philosophy.
“After I moved to Goa in 1993, resortwear became one of the foundation stones of my fashion philosophy. It was no easy feat to translate abstract themes such as sea breeze or the ocean into clothing. But we managed to live up to the challenge and today the concept of resortwear and beachwear are very much a part of the Wendell Rodricks label that is enforced in every collection by my successor Schu-
len Fernandes. Resort has been a trend in India since the mid 90’s. With the access and popularity of Indian beaches, designers and the public realised that what they wear in a resort holiday destination is very different from what they would wear in an urban setting. I know clients who have a Goa wardrobe. They feel these clothes suit a place like Goa and they would rather wear it in a place near the sea. On the other hand, I approach the clothes in such a way that whoever wears the clothes, if they shut their eyes and dream, they are on a Goan holiday because of the light feel of the garment in a crowded city.”
Wendell’s clients are varied as he states, “Age has nothing to do with resortwear. Mature ladies may prefer a kaftan and a younger millennial may like a cropped top. Resortwear covers a wide range of garments from a gypsy ghagra skirt to a chiffon sari.”
The benefits of resortwear Wendell feels are, “Because it is light on the body and on the purse, the best part of resortwear is that you can pile on the accessories. From chunky bracelets to bright strappy footwear, gold, silver and metallic tones for shoes and bags, resort wear and beachwear show off the best of beach, breeze, sun and surf.”
The best fabrics for the collections according to Wendell are “Light cottons, linens, breezy silks, chiffons, crepe and satin all make the mark. We don’t do prints but other designers who do prints tell me that prints sell well. As for colours-everything goes. From basic white to all the rainbow hues, and from the pastels to neutrals and black.”
Ken Ferns is another designer who concentrates on resortwear with hints of swimsuits creeping in. Colour and a profusion of floral and abstract prints are the highlight of Ken’s creations that comprise maxi skirts, bralets, ruffled minis, cool covers, sarongs and shrugs.
Asmita Marwa is known for her relaxed cool resort looks, which offer an almost Zen like appearance with drapes and lay-
ers in solid hues but with sheer organic fabrics being a favourite. Kaftans, dhoti pants, angular togas, layered maxis, beach robes and long layered dresses offer a fashionable choice.
The Verandah label by Anjali Patel Mehta is a specialist with a holiday wardrobe and so the garments have fun prints for skirts, strappy blouses, printed halter maxis and floor length shrugs. Designer Sounia Gohil has a great line of resortwear with white as its base for short covers, will-power midis, bikinis with shrugs, long slit skirts, off-shoulder blouses and sheer beach robes over swimwear.
Aniket Satam keeps it young and trendy with simple shift dresses, sheer maxis over playsuits and baggy shorts with cropped tops.
Anupamaa Dayal is another resortwear specialist whose label is known for the bright, vibrant, prints and colours. Launched in 2004, since then Anupamaa is seen at most fashion weeks in India and abroad with her fluid, carefree, fun filled, collection of beachwear and resortwear creations that appeal to Indian as well as western buyers.
“I think we straddle resortwear as it is a big chunk of what we do. While most of what we make also works well for urban lives in cities with warm climes but as a category to tick, it would be resortwear. The need for travel, relaxation, experience, escapism has increased manifold in the last decade and so it is mostly the mature woman who loves the concept of resortwear,” informs Anupamaa who creates two collections a year and keeps them really happy with large florals, mixed prints and bold graphics.
Anupamaa agrees that Indian designers are creating more resortwear as, “It is our strength. Our fabrics are light and we handle fluid silhouettes much better than structured. Also our strengths of colour, print, textile and crafts are very well suited to seaside wear needs.”
AN AQUA SPLASH
Creating quite a sensation, designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja for their label Shivan-Narresh became the
first Indian designers to make a splash on the Indian and international fashion scene with their swimwear line in 2008. Since then their vibrant beach and resort wear collections have dazzled Bollywood, Hollywood and celebrities.
Every collection from the designing duo has an innovative theme with interesting construction and fabrics used for the beachwear and resortwear. The onepiece swimsuits, bikinis, monokinis and trinkinis have unique designs, while the colourful resortwear prints are used for the amazing maxis, sarongs, and even resort bridal wear trousseaux like lehengas, blouses, saree gowns and dupattas. Often inspired by well-known artists and resort destinations their specially created fabrics are the USP of the brand. Besides using Lycra and neoprene, they also have techno forward fabrics that can act against chlorine, sand, peeling, curling, sunscreen and oil. The designing duo is also known for their colour blocking and the choice of hues they use, which are bold and daring.
Nidhi Munim is another designer who has devoted her brand since 2012 mainly to swimwear with colourful beach covers added on. Her creations have been featured for the Kingfisher calendar and also for the Miss India contests.
“The swimwear and beachwear category is becoming a lifestyle segment, moving out of its niche category to being a mainstream category in India. For me, it’s definitely a lifestyle that I thrive in. The Indian market has become more conscious and accepting swimwear and beachwear as a category. Indian women want to make an effort to look their most gorgeous selves during their holidays and are willing to work towards building the right wardrobe that suits their body type. The consumer profile for this category is very varied. Right from the teenager to the mature women, any age and any size have become more aware and confident with body positivity to sport the right swimwear and beachwear that suits their body type. With the evolving consumer who is more of a globe trotter and a well travelled customer, the need for swimwear and beachwear has grown and matured and so has the market.”
Nidhi creates four collections a year driven by the festive and travel seasons. “Pops and monotones are classic ‘must haves’ in this category. Our USP is our ikat print series, which makes for our signature statement print every season,” informs Nidhi.
Designer Aakriti Grover’s flirtatious label is totally devoted to swimwear in bright solids as well as multi-coloured stripes since 2013. From swimwear to playsuits, bodysuits and bikinis, Aakriti has them with tiny covers or sarong saris for evening glamour.
“WITH SOCIAL PLATFORMS BEING SUPER-ACTIVE, RESORT AND DESTINATION CLOTHING HAS BECOME AN ESSENTIAL TOOL TO FLAUNT ONE’S STYLE WHILE TRAVELLING.
With beachwear and resortwear turning into very important categories the retail industry has realised its need, which prompted Pallav Ojha the name behind the India Beach Fashion Week concept in India since 2015 to start a beach and resortwear store COMO in Goa to fill this void in 2017. The 2000 sq.ft. ultra modern outlet is a big attraction in the resort state.
“The category of beachwear and resortwear is taking centre stage lately with the global travel trends. Across the globe there has been a shift in middle, upper middle and higher income consumers planning minimum 2 travel trips to a maximum of 8 to 10 international and local travel destinations across the year. With social platforms being super-active, resort and destination clothing has become an essential tool to flaunt one’s style while travelling. From long vacations to short trips, destination wear is a key driver to express one’s individuality and fashion statement while travelling,” informs Pallav.
According to Pallav, “A survey, in 2014 shows the global swimwear and resortwear market was worth USD20.9 billion. By 2019, this number is expected to hit USD 28.3 billion. In recent years, major fashion brands like Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Moschino, Tony Burch and Givenchy, have all started offering luxury swimwear apart from independent design labels who see this as an opportunity to build numbers as well as express their design sensibilities for this category.”
The COMO - Designers Collective focuses on destination wear as a complete package with day prêt, swimwear, evening and party wear, while one is holidaying, attending a destination wedding or cruising along and it has a holistic approach towards the entire category with statement clothing, trendy jewellery, edgy accessories, footwear and other
key essentials. COMO has also created opportunity for over 60 designers from India and abroad to be focussed to work under this category. The price point has been controlled with ensembles starting at `3,000 onwards, jewellery and accessories starting at `1,500 only.
Pallav adds, “Travel and holidaying has become a part of ones to-do-list now and it’s not only subjected to the upper income groups. The world is gradually moving towards the new age traveller phenomena like the 60’s and 70’s however with a different style and sophistication. Boho-chic is not only a fashionable word for the blogs; we see it every day while our consumers shop at COMO. As mentioned earlier, social media has become a key driver to push this lifestyle and today flaunting stylish travel pictures is part of one’s social mandate. This has also built a community like experience to share experiences, travel details, places to visit and shop, while they travel. This phenomenon is only getting bigger and prominent across age groups, income groups and influencers.”
The popular fabrics for resortwear vary from chiffons, georgettes to linen and comfortable cottons. Unique blends of cotton, viscose, nylon, polyester-mesh, polyester-stretch, mesh cotton, polyester nylon, polyester mesh, nylon taffeta, polyamide and scuba amongst others.
“An important key driver is the comfort, hence spandex and stretch materials have been largely used across category to ensure style, sophistication along with movement. Another interesting category we have just launched is the designer fitness clothing, while you travel, which is the beginning of another unique category by itself. Mature women love this category! While they may have a more refined taste, we ensure customisation as per their choice of designer, fabrics and size specifications,” observes Pallav. The popularity of this category is spiralling upwards as Pallav notes, “This is a category, which helps designers express their individuality in the most interesting manner. Indian designers are exporting resortwear and beachwear in huge numbers across the continents. The buyers have started loving the design sensibilities of Indian designers lately as it’s only getting matured every day. The colours, shapes, surface ornamentation, fabrics, silhouettes have gradually become more refined. The cultural and art influence of India is now being depicted keeping in mind the global consumer. While Indian and bridal wear has been building huge revenues for designers in the last 35 years, the designers now want to break free and focus onto a new global category, reach out to more audiences, even if the inspiration is India. Resort and destination weddings connected to this category are a huge revenue churner for designers. Both established and young designers have started focussing on this category for both traditional Indian and western brides. The collection for a destination wedding is designed, keeping in mind the journey across the days from cocktails, pool parties, beach wedding and other key occasions.”
Having been connected with resort and beach fashion for so many years Pallav sees a bright and growing future for these segments. “This category will only get bigger and better in the years to come as the consumers across the globe with various geographical challenges have realised the way to Nirvana is travel. They are looking at ‘beach-to-bar’ solutions while they travel and it’s not limited to a specific style or silhouette. As consumers travel more often, the swimwear category is expanding beyond bathing suits and espadrilles and giving birth to a new genre of holiday destination wear that works in the city as well as on the sand and includes items like crochet shorts, palazzo pants, cotton kaftans, embroidered cover-ups, beach hats, canvas bags, Bohemian sandals and fringed tunics,” concludes Pallav.