When it comes to fashion, there’s a little country of 1,2 billion souls which is very often forgotten in Western media: India. We had a chance to catch up with one of its most prominent digital figures, Purushu Arie.
When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging in 2008, when I joined NIFT, New Delhi to pursue graduation in fashion design. The idea was to create a scrapbook where I could write about anything that inspired me as a fashion design student which includes runway collections, quirky design elements, illustrations, photography and my own creations.
An image that I posted in one of my most recent blogpost is taken from my graduate design collection at NIFT New Delhi. The garment denotes the change in Indian costume history after the British raj invasion. The visual portrays a traditional Indian sari that transforms into a notch collared top in the runway.
India is definitely rising on the global fashion scene. In the meantime, in Europe or in the US, a lot of media associate India to sweatshops: what do you think?
As a part of my learning experience, I have visited many small-scale industries and factories in various textile manufacturing hubs in India. At least, I personally haven’t encountered any of those extremely hazardous environment or human rights violation as it’s reported in the media.
But the biggest problem that we’re still facing is child labor. Many children from the age of eight and above are still seen working in small-scale textile industries. But when you interact with the kids, you get to hear the other side of the story. Most of these underage-labor belong to extremely down trodden families and they are left with no choice but to work in order to fulfill their basic necessities of foot-shelter-and-clothing. The children I interacted were clear that they are left with no other choice, but to work in order to support themselves and their families. Most of them optimistically call it as their way of learning & receiving formal training. It amused me to see young children operate looms with such ease and expertise and have more knowledge about textiles and manufacturing process than we students did in spite of receiving formal training from the nation’s most prestigious fashion school.
If asked to make a choice between working to earn their basic necessities or attend schools to have formal education, I won’t be surprised if most of these downtrodden kids will choose to work, as it’s happening now. Sometimes, things are beyond anyone’s reach and what’s even worse was that I couldn’t even disagree these kids.
The Indian textile industry offers employment to over 35million people in the country with 10-16% of share on total exports. While we have our own strengths to boast about, the sweatshop-working-environment has been a major problem that our textile ministry is presently tackling. With constantly dropping poverty rate, stricter laws and awareness created by NGOs and media, the situation is improving faster than ever before.
“Fashion can change the world”: do you agree?
Fashion is a way of life, which constantly changes with the changing world & society. Various socio-political factors have affected fashion throughout the history and will continue to do so. I am not very sure which statement is right, ‘fashion CAN change the world’ or ‘fashion changes WITH the world’, for all I am sure about is that the change is necessary for us to be a progressive race.
What are the fashion brands or blogs from India that we should follow?
While the Indian retail formats are still emerging and will take time to level the likes of H&M and Zara, the fashion designers here have made us proud by reinventing forgotten traditions & customs. Apart from celebrated fashion designers like Manish Arora, young designers such as Arjun Saluja, Annaikka, Kallol Datta, Anand Bhushan and Rimzim Dadu offer quirky designs which are unique and targeted at the modern Indian society.
Two of the most favorite Indian fashion blogs at the moment-
What can we wish you?
Hmm…Wish me luck for something big that I am working on presently! Yes, you’ll hear about it in future :D