Indo western fusion wear: The fantastic revolution of the Indian fashion industry!
What is fusion fashion?
Fusion wear or Indo-western fusion wear sounds like a concept that could only be a decade or two old. However, you may be surprised to find out that fusion fashion has existed in India since the colonial era. Think about a pre-colonial maharani dressed in a typically British puffed sleeves blouse topped with a gold-toned ruffled saree smoking from a hookah! You’ll know what I mean.
India has been a boiling pot for numerous cultures and ethnicities for ages making Indian fusion fashion most versatile. Today, one may refer to a clothing item as “Indian” or “western” with their understanding and cultural bias. Nevertheless, the truth is that the line between Indian ethnic and western fashion has blurred, giving rise to Indian contemporary fashion.
While the concept is at least a century and a half old, the term “fusion fashion” has been popularized only by Bollywood, the top fashion influencer in India. The Indian fashion industry has researched and experimented with different styles over the decades to bring about this change. Whether you may realize it or not, fusion fashion is an essential part of your wardrobe too!
The following is a timeline of how fusion wear fashion revolutionized the Indian fashion industry over the decades:
- The 1960s:
The advent of color films favored bright colors and aesthetically pleasing silhouettes on screen. One of the best fashion statements was Mumtaz’s body-hugging fusion saree. The outfit, unlike traditional sarees, has a fluted skirt with twirls of its gold-toned border.
The 1960s brought sleeveless bodycon kurtas with button fastenings into mainstream fashion. These kurtas were paired with a dupatta and churidar. Madhubala’s outfits from Mughal-e-Azam recreated a version of Mughal fashion that incorporated Indo western fusion wear. This style is well-known as an “Anarkali” dress to date.
- The 1970s:
Polka dots, stripes, and geometric motifs printed on chiffon were in vogue during the 70s. These motifs inspired by western dresses and shirts were blended with the desi sarees and kurtas. Chiffon, an unconventional fabric in traditional Indian wear became more mainstream. The waist-cinching Anarkali dresses were inspired by medieval corset dresses.
A distinguishing feature of the 70s was that though the silhouettes were Indian, the prints and color pops were considerably western. Bindis that complement the polka-dotted designs were haute-couture. The jewelry was minimal consisting of studs, hoops, and colored pearl necklaces.
- The 1980s:
The bold and free-spirited 80s brought semi-sheer sarees in trend to flaunt those feminine curves. Sridevi’s “Chandni” saree coupled with a typically western pearl necklace and minimalist blouse became immensely popular.
Indian dresses adopted sweetheart necklines and pointed paddings at the breast. The typical shimmery element of desi outfits was brought using sequins instead of traditional crafts and materials.
- The 1990s:
The 1990s made a great effort to revive the “Indianness” in fashion. This can be noticed in the intricate designs used in the popular gold-toned jewelry. Forgotten styles like the Gujrati reversed pallus, ghoonghats, modest blouses, and patchwork were revived.
However, with the rising industry-manufactured fast fashion, most so-called “Indian” dresses were made with cheaper fabrics like polyester. Overall, the indo western fusion wear trends during the decade were conservative and maximalist.
- The 2000s:
The 00s were all about noodle straps and flaunting the midriffs. While the 90s maximalism stayed, outfits became bolder and showed off more skin. Lehengas that were heavy and dangerously low-waisted were haute-couture. While the jewelry resembled the 90s, bangles added chic to the look. Think of the fusion wear styles worn in “Bole Chudiyaan”, you’ll get the picture!
- The 2010s:
2010 discarded many heavy and intricate styles from the past decade and drifted towards “sleek and sexy” styles. Cocktail sarees with noodle-strapped and halter-neck blouses were common. The Anarkali dresses were revived. While elements like sequins, and beads were still in vogue, traditional crafts like phulkari, bandhani, etc. too gained popularity. Kurtas with jeans became a comfortable and trendy pair.
- The 2020s:
Today, with the explosion of trends on Instagram, fusion fashion india has expanded into numerous styles. While on one hand, experimental fast fashion like the saree with belt is in talks, traditional fabrics and crafts are gaining popularity on the other. Indian elements like Ajrakh, Ikat, Kalamkari are making their way into practical western silhouettes like dresses, jumpsuits, shirts, and tunics giving way to some more indo western fusion wear.