When we hear about India, the first thing that always comes to our mind is its diversity and culture, food and traditions, region and religions, as it’s a vast country with a lot of astonishing mix and originalities in it. India is also famous for its rich food, wonderful and most beautiful places, temples, clothing & much more! Well, here we are to have a visit through one of India’s beautiful attractions and unique personalities- it’s clothing and all about its origins, evolution and making.
Cotton, I am sure you know about this clothing material. It’s the most known (I guess). The Indus Valley Civilization India was one of the first places where cotton was cultivated and used as early as 2500 BCE and it marks the history of clothing in India as research and traces suggest most people prior this era were unaware of a thing as clothing and the idea of covering their body with a piece of cloth or fiber. So early in the time span, Indians have mainly worn clothing made up of locally grown cotton. The traces of the ancient clothing in India can be found in the discovery from sites around the Indus Valley Civilization, the cave paintings, the sculptures and human portraits and art forms found in temples and monuments. Other fibers known for clothing during the Harappan era were cotton, flax, silk, wool, linen, leather, etc., and they were mostly handloomed, spun, woven and dyed. Dyeing of clothes in that era was an art form. Harappan Civilization dyed their cotton material clothes with lots of colors and hence, clothing became a thing!
Now that we know in brief about where the idea of clothing & garments in India began, let’s run down and read about what makes the Indian garment different and how it’s evolved from being just a fiber material wraparound the body to being the identity of different cultures & traditions in India, where the origins of “INDIAN” garment rise from, Indian clothing is vast distributed, made and segregated depending on the different ethnic beliefs, regions, traditions, geography and culture of all the people belonging from different latitudes of India.
As for record the traditional clothing for women of north and east India are saris with choli tops, another form of clothing is a long skirt known as lehenga worn with choli and dupatta (a long scarf in English language) to create an entire outfit popularly known as ghagra choli. Other known clothing form is salwar kameez suits.
The traditional clothing in south India for women include sari loomed out of pure silk and are considered the most elegant form of garment.
The traditional attire along with the garment also include bindi and head scarfs of different forms and religions.
From ancient times, both the male & female clothing has evolved from simple garments like achkan, sari, gamcha, kaupina, loincloths, pagri, burkha, to a complete transformation of clothing covering the body into outfits not limited only to day-to-day wear or a shield to body, but designed and segregated for festivities, occasions, rituals, dancing, working and a lot more which also are reaching out towards more fashionable, comfortable, stylish, sustainable, re-usable & situation-appropriate genres.
Although, the ancient or classic Indian clothing are appreciated the same as before, they are mostly used on special occasions now and are replaced with more light-weighed, gender-neutral, easily wearable, western form of clothing. Throughout the years, people are seen to be more comfortable with wearing a shirt and pant than a two or three parted traditional clothing. Along the years, this has resulted in many foreign garment establishments in India and also provided the Indian garment manufacturers to work with clients all over the world.
Since we have read so far about the history of traditional Indian garment, from its birth to its evolution, let’s read about how the garment industry in India works.
The most popular clothing brands that we buy our apparels from are actually just the seller and not the manufacturer or in common language, the maker. This is the way that production happen in almost every industry, be it clothing, food or any other product-based industry that you can think of. There is a seller who is on the front-end of the industry and we are aware of them and popularly call them “brands”, but the actual making of the garments are done by the manufacturer.
A manufacturer produces clothing for more than one brand. So, the material, work, loom and everything that goes into making of the product is same for a collection of brands using the same manufacturer company but the idea and designs are different for each brand and are decided by them. Most apparel manufacturing companies in India make clothes designed as traditional wears and other clothing manufactures in India make clothes designed as only western or casual wears. Some or majority others do both. Brands approach different manufactures according to their needs of traditional or casual.
There also are small order clothing manufactures in India that produces garments in less quantity for a batch run and they are mostly contacted by start-ups or small businesses. These readymade garments manufacturers in India provide with employment to many women and men throughout India. There are a lot of women’s clothing manufacturer in India which are region based or traditional based that employs only local women for the job.
So, this is the way that a garment is conceptualized, designed, produced and sold to us and the track of how Indian garment industry has evolved through thousands of years.
You can find all kinds of evolved Indian clothing, traditional or casual, by some popular and giant textile brands in India, some of which include- Reliance Trend, BIBA, Westside for whom we, Oxym Crafts Private Limited, deal in the manufacturing.