H&M, finally! But will it mean more young people dressed alike?

Hennes & Mauritz plans to spend around 100 million euros ($130 million) on an initial 50 stores in India.

Read the full story here: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2013/04/hm-prepares-130-million-drive-to-crack-indian-market.html

So what happened when Zara launched in India? Running into people wearing the same jackets, dresses etc became routine, you knew exactly the place everyone was shopping. Although fast fashion gives us access to cheaper and trendy clothes, it tends to take away individuality and uniqueness in dressing.

H&M flagship in New York, source NY Mag

H&M flagship in New York, source NY Mag

In countries like the UK you have a lot more brands on the high street, which is why even though people are shopping at the same places you can create an individual look with separates. Even so, last season when the camouflage print was popular, I often spotted at least five people on Oxford Street wearing the Zara camouflage studded shirt or the checkered studded shirts. Remember those?

But this is where vintage comes in. My friends in Europe, who don’t want to look like walking ads for Zara or H&M or River Island, scour vintage stores and markets for one-of-a-kind pieces (available at high street prices) and stand apart from the crowd. The most interestingly dressed folks were the ones mixing it up with vintage, high street and key luxury pieces. And like I keep talking about, vintage shopping is necessary to  help reduce wastage, an inevitable result of fast fashion.

PS: H&M has some really cool brands like Monki and Cos. Cannot wait for them to bring in Cos – with their impeccable tailoring and easy to wear, unique styles it is one of my favourite brands!

Cos collection

Cos collection

Cos collection

Cos collection


How social enterprise can succeed in the world of high fashion

The Guardian has written about Cameron Saul, a social entrepreneur operating in the world of high fashion. His father is the founder of the brand Mulberry and Saul has co-founded the handbag brand Bottletop, an unusual product combined with an ethical backstory. Read the full story here:


Bottletop bags are selling well at Harrods and Liberty, London

Bottletop bags are selling well at Harrods and Liberty, London

Crespi points out that as much as 50% of negative environmental impact from the fashion industry comes after purchase. “Washing garments at high temperatures, or dry cleaning them, and then throwing them in the bin when you’re done, can be really harmful to the environment. I like to educate my clients on how they can purchase, care and wear more sustainably.”

This is something I have spoken about in this blog as well. The money you spend on the garment you wear once is only one concern, the rest comes in the form of the environmental price you pay for ‘fast’ fashion.

Tavi Gevinson only gets bigger and better

Tavi Gevinson has been called everything from the future of fashion to the future of journalism (by Lady Gaga, no less). Gevinson created her first blog, The Style Rookie, at age 11. At the time, she didn’t have a grown-up helper or connections in the fashion world or access to designer threads—just a fascination with high-concept design (Comme des Garçons and Rodarte were and still are among her favorites), a gift for writing and the sensibility to turn a thrifted sweater, her mom’s skirt and a pair of oversized sunglasses with the lenses popped out into a full-blown fashion statement.

Whether you love her or haven’t heard of her yet, you must read her complete interview here:


Pop, dots, and the secret to purging

Interview with Masoom Minawala, Founder Style Fiesta and Fashion Jobs India

“Have you read The Secret? It says till you don’t make space for the new, you will not get it,” 20-year-old Masoom Minawala tells me, in all sincerity and seriousness. We are not waxing philosophical about the world and our existence, we are clearing her wardrobe of things she hasn’t used. But then that’s the gravity with which many women relate to their life, loves, and wardrobes.

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Brown and black pleated dress, London

It is not a surprise that her book shelf is as packed as her wardrobe. One of the youngest fashion entrepreneurs in the city, Masoom started as a blogger on Style Fiesta. Four months ago she converted the blog into an e-commerce platform and recently also founded a website that works as an online job directory for those looking to work in the fashion industry. Yes, the girl is only 20.

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Neon pink sling bag, H&M, London

And like many her age, she loves pretty clothes and shopping for them. London is a favourite shopping destination, but as much as she buys Masoom also purges her wardrobe on a regular basis. The one thing, however, that she hasn’t been able to give away is the dotted dress she bought from her favourite boutique in Camden, London. “I love the dress, but it doesn’t fit me well,” she says. Every time she decides to give it away, she wonders if she might wear it some day. And back it goes into the wardrobe again. Until now, for Fuffabulous.

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Dress and bag purchased in 2012; Number of times used – 0

The neon pink sling bag was an impulse purchase from H&M in London that just continues to live in her wardrobe with price tags still on. “I just never get around to using it,” she says. She hopes that someone who loves fashion as much as her, enjoys pretty dresses and likes to experiment with pop colours will eventually end up with these.

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Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Location courtesy: Le 15 Patisserie, Bandra; Styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own; Photographs: Morvarid K.

Beauty-cool: Product pick

Since I discovered this product, I haven’t stopped raving about it. As someone with wavy-curly hair living in Mumbai, frizz has been a lifelong frenemy. I have been duped of a lot of cash trying various products that promised to get frizz out of my life. Until one day, on a stroll down Oxford Street that led to an evening spent dipping into magical pots and tubes through the beauty level at the Liberty department store – that’s when I was introduced to Aveda and my life…. ok well, my hair was never the same again.

Presenting to all you girls who have to deal with high-maintenance curly hair in humid cities – you will write in thanking me for this.


The Aveda ‘Be Curly’ range

I use the Style Prep and Curl Enhancer after washing my hair and the frizz is tamed almost completely while the curls get instant definition. I realised the impact when my friends immediately noticed the change.

Aveda1The products are not available in India yet, but take a look at the website to find out where you can purchase them on your next trip abroad www.aveda.com.

Warning: You will be sucked in for a while, so if you are at work, make sure your boss isn’t around.

Fringe benefits

Interview with Virginia Holmes, make-up artist and co-founder Fat Mu Pro make-up and academy

As a make-up artist for big-ticket films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Zero Dark Thirty besides various other movies and ad campaigns, Virginia Holmes is constantly surrounded by all the trappings of ‘glamour’. Perhaps the reason that off-duty, she doesn’t like to talk about make-up or clothes. Or go shopping for them.

Jimmy Choo for H&M black fringe dress

Jimmy Choo for H&M black fringe dress

As a sporadic shopper who doesn’t end up buying clothes more than once or twice a year, you would imagine her wardrobe to be limited. You would, however, be wrong. “I am a hoarder,” says Virgina, laughing. There is a pair of pedal pushers from 17 years ago, her mum’s leg warmers from 1978 and a couple of tops from a shooting trip in Ladakh in 2003. She has a quirky sense of style and since her work takes her to different parts of India and abroad, her wardrobe is bursting with fun picks from all around.

Number of times worn: 0

Number of times worn: 0

On a rare shopping spree in London she bought a black fringe dress from the Jimmy Choo for H&M collaboration in 2009. The launch of this collection saw hundreds of fashion lovers around the world queue up for hours to get their hands on the merchandise.

But four years later the dress hangs around in the fringes of her wardrobe, price tag still in place. “I love the dress, but realised it doesn’t fit me too well. I’m sure there is someone else out there with the same style sensibility who will be able to put the dress to good use

photo (4)In the process of learning to detach herself from material posessions, Virginia cleared her wardrobe of a number of accessories and clothes for Fuffabulous. She wants to pass them on to “some young hipsters out there” who will love the clothes as much as she does. But there is one dress she is not able to part with. A stunning, white La Perla frock she bought 13-years-ago that still finds pride of place in her wardrobe, price-tag intact. “I’m saving it for my wedding in Vegas some day,” she grins

The dress is a UK size 12 but fits a UK 10 better. Paired with neon accessories or impossibly high strappy heels, the dress is a definite conversation starter.


Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Photos and styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s and model’s own

Is Indo-Western a dated term now? My story in Mint Lounge

Indian summer

Rachana Nakra

‘Indo-Western’ stands challenged as local identities dominate Western silhouettes in Ikat jumpsuits and Chanderi gowns

The umbrella term “Indian wear” remains exciting work-in-progress—defying a predictable rotation within traditional options. At the recently concluded Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2013 in Mumbai, it was hardly about bling—a variety of kurtislehngas or anarkalis to be worn at Indian weddings or celebratory occasions. The runway was a blossoming of ideas and options in the realm of Indian: Silk shorts, lycra saris,mulmul skirts, Chanderi gowns, Ikat shirts, and jumpsuits with prints inspired by Indian history.

“Earlier, we gave a Western touch to Indian garments, such as a spaghetti-strap blouse with a sari. Now, designers are finding ways to give a Western silhouette a traditional Indian appearance,” says designer Payal Singhal, who presented shorts in embroidered velvet and net. To cater to an international clientele and make local heritage accessible to youth, this look, which presents a distinct Indian identity but in a wide choice of silhouettes, is the fashion aesthetic of choice.
A handwoven Assamese paat dress inspired by the mekhla.

A handwoven Assamese paat dress inspired by the mekhla chadar.

“Indo-Western” might now seem a dated, even limited, term to describe the unique twists these style makers are bringing to fashion. Gaurav Jai Gupta of Akaaro, who showed a collection of dresses, skirts, tops, trousers and jackets in handwoven fabrics such as Chanderi and Ikat, refuses to use that term. “My collection is Indian, global, practical and easy,” he says.
The influences are varied. Daniel Syiem used Jainsem and Jainkyrshah, the traditional garb of the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya, as inspiration to present a relaxed and trendy line of togas, dresses and wrap blouses in fabric sourced from the North-East. Hyderabad-based Asmita Marwa repurposed vintage Indian mirror-work garments, using motifs by artist Thota Vaikuntam, and embroidered her garments with the Telugu script, while Kolkata’s Rimi Nayak used Bengali typography on ensembles comprising gowns, kaftans and shirt dresses. “The importance of the language is declining and we are forgetting the rich heritage of Bengali literature,” says the designer.
At first sight, all these clothes look strongly Indian; only later do you realize this it is not an extension of the old story of saris and salwar-kurtas. Something else is happening here.
A silk jumpsuit with old Indian postal stamp print.

A silk jumpsuit with old Indian postal stamp print.

A growing love and pride for India’s textile heritage is the primary but not sole reason for designers experimenting with a sartorial mashup. The duo Shivan and Narresh—well-known for their edgy bikinis, maillots and accessories—showed a holiday line of swimwear and cover-ups peppered with saris. To cater to Indian sensibilities of their clients while keeping in mind today’s easy-to-wear fashion aesthetic, they included pre-tailored saris in linen and lycra that require no pleating, draping or dry-cleaning. “Many Indian women are not too comfortable with swimwear and look out of place in a holiday setting. We wanted to provide a familiar silhouette that is user-friendly to the Indian woman travelling abroad,” says BanarsiNarresh.
Those who, quite literally, like to wear their Indian identity on their sleeve, could pick from Singhal’s collection. Cropped anarkalis with palazzo pants, a Banarasi georgette gown and tulle embroidered shorts paired with a cotton kurta—ensembles that will fetch notice at a New Delhi party or double up as stunning separates for a holiday in Hawaii.
A cream silk mulmul and Katarva cotton high-low tunic with jaali work, with embroidered velvet and net shorts.

A cream silk mulmul and Katarva cotton high-low tunic with jaali work, with embroidered velvet and net shorts.

Read more at http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/dLZP2Srr7fDJq7FJDDDeeJ/Trend-Tracker–Indian-summer.html


Zara Accused Of Using Sweatshops

ZARA has been accused of producing clothes in “degrading” Argentinian sweatshop conditions, following a new investigation. The mainly Bolivian employees said that they were made to work more than 13 hours a day and could not leave the factory without permission.

Read the full story on: http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2013/04/04/zara-faces-sweatshop-allegations-in-argentina

Could it be true??

A dress without a dinner date

Interview with Hemali Jain, founder of luxury shopping website Shopclusive.com

An addiction to shopping online and a love of fashion and designer wear is what inspired Hemali Jain to found her own e-commerce set-up in India.

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Karen Millen one shouldered pleated dress

The tags in Hemali’s personal wardrobe read like the designer list of any top luxury e-commerce website. It’s not a surprise then that Net-A-Porter is an online favourite. And as someone who is able to jet off to fashion capitals every two months, most of her shopping is done in London, Milan and New York. To make up for the frequency with which she shops, ‘spring cleaning’ in not just an annual chore. “I like to get rid of my old clothes every month so I can make space for the new ones,” she says.

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Number of times worn: 1

The stunning one-shouldered pleated dress by Karen Millen (also one of my favourite British brands!) was worn for a dinner out with friends, once. After that it found no other occasion to see candle-light or table-cloth. “I still love the dress, but bought other stuff that I wear and so this one just gets ignored,” she says.

Most of the unwanted garments are passed on to friends. “I segregate the clothes depending on the taste of my friends. I know which friend of mine will like a particular outfit from my wardrobe,” she says.  At current count, she owns 60 handbags by some of the best labels available. As generous as she is with her clothes, bags are an obsession and never to be parted with.

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The knee length dress is as-good-as-new and fits a UK size 8. Perfect for a special evening out, it can be paired with high heeled booties and a statement cuff. 


Model friend: Kadambari Sadekar; Location courtesy: Le 15 Pattisserie, Bandra; Styling: Rachana Nakra; Accessories: Stylist’s own; Photographs: Morvarid K. She is a French/Iranian artist photographer who has a solo exhibition in New Delhi starting April 10. More info at http://www.wonderwall.co.in