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Westward ho!

Women in the twin cities are increasingly opting for western wear


NO LONGER does the label on the nape of the neck matter. The image of western wear garments has taken on a different dimension on the fashion charts with the emergence of the new breed of fashion designers. To convince the otherwise flamboyantly over-dressed Indian woman to opt for classic, elegantly tailored suits has been the biggest coup. And in the twin cities it has not been any less. A process accelerated by the advent of satellite television more and more women are opting for western wear. And it's been a complete makeover for college goers, working women and just about anyone who wants to sport a tee.

Though the salwar kameez and the sari remain the most preferred work wear, a strong urge for a shift to western attire has placed women on the brink of change. There have also been instances of women's colleges banning the wearing of western clothes, especially jeans and T-shirts. It is against such a backdrop that the readymade garment sector is trying to make great inroads into the women wear segment with the idea of introducing western wear culture. Says Sandhya, department manager, Pantaloons, "We stock exclusive but not very expensive wear and skirts have seen plenty of takers this season, whether formal or freaky."

Sandeep Narain, manager, Lifestyle says, "Changes in the work culture, increase in more women at the workplace and more travelling sees women opting for western wear. A pair of jeans is something almost everyone in a particular economic or social bracket possesses these days."

Dignified looks are the top considerations for Hyderabadi women while selecting western wear at a retail counter. Comfort is secondary followed by exclusivity, femininity and appeal. Most women are comfortable in western outfits especially when they are at home, shopping, travelling or partying. Offsetting what may be called brand name myths, women place maximum emphasis on fitting even giving secondary priority to designing and styling followed by fabric and colour.

Tayaba who is the store incharge for `also', which stocks the Wild Orchid brand says, "Size remains a problem for older women. Brand does matter but most women give importance to fit." Clothing Deck's Harsh Agarwal adds, "Casual women's tops sell the most. Colour, the fit and embellishments decide the choice."

Women shoppers especially western wear buyers compare products and designs with other brands in the market. They take a lot of time in making sure that the garment they buy enhances their stature. Says Proline's Hyder Abdul Khader, "With the fitness craze in this city on an increase, our T- shirts and sports wear sell well." Mallika, a mother of two school goers says, "I switched to wearing trousers because they act as fitness indicators. I know when I'm gaining and losing weight. With Indian clothes the drawstring is always ever expanding!"

While men decide on feeling the fabric, women go for trial. Scullers, U dare and Allen Solly, stock different shapes and fits for the working woman that are quite popular. Ritu Sen, a communications manager in her late 30s says, "I never thought I'd wear pants to work. But now I'm mostly in business suits. Blended fabrics hardly demand maintenance and care."

T.V. anchors on regional news channels to receptionists at clinics seem to sport the business suit in a big way while fabrics range from knits to wovens to cottons and linens to silk with a spectrum of colours starting from earthy and aqua tones to bright colours. Says Sharmishta, customer facilitator at the Wills Lifestyle Store, "Our collection is an eclectic mix of formal, office and evening wear with minimum embellishments that makes it look elegant."

But not many, especially smart shoppers, seem to be opting for top of the line clothes. Keerthi, a college student says she shops mostly at Ocean and Models Reloaded. "These places have fashionable stuff at half the prices as compared to huge stores." Her sister, Shruthi prefers the factory outlets that dot Karkhana. "You have the latest range here and they are all branded. It's a great place for value."

Although no colonial hangover this, the changeover is not always met with enthusiasm. "I'm all for great dressing," says Niranjana, a teacher and mother of a teenager. "But I wish people knew what suited them best. Western wear is most unflattering for some women and yet they wear it because it's considered hip."

While this new fangled way of dressing can never pose a threat to ethnic wear it has definitely led to a clash of civilizations.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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