Fashion should challenge the conventional and merge materials, whilst creating a space for multi-cultural experimentation.
For me, combining traditional Indian pieces with a modern twist is deeply personal. I grew up watching my grandmother drape vibrant sarees (a traditional Indian garment that is draped round the body) and adorn bright jewellery, that always matched. My other grandmother’s hands would sparkle with beautiful rings: different stones for different parts of the soul. My interpretation of fashion thus began with seeing traditional Indian prints and silhouettes against the modern metropolitan backdrop of the city. Years later, after growing up abroad, I still cherish the pastel silk, rich cotton, and jewel-toned jhumkas of my childhood. I want to pay homage to these memories and yet, celebrate the culture clash of continuing incorporating small ethnic pieces into street style and daily wear.
I have collated my favourite ways of implicitly and explicitly bringing South-Asian style to the streets of London to perhaps inspire your daily wardrobe with the same sparkle I grew up with.
Bags and Bangles
I believe the easiest (and perhaps cheapest) way to bring Asian style into outfits is through accessories. There are so many options when it comes to small evening bags to large fabric totes – the best place to purchase these would be at South-Asian boutiques or online vendors. I love the small bags for evenings which I can pair with a dress or more casual jeans.
Bangles are also available easily and is a way to add colour to a monochrome outfit. Gold-toned bangles look especially sophisticated.
Prints and Pantsuits
I remember a few years ago, finding the stylist Sandy Gill and her self-coined look, the ‘Sandy Suit’. It uses saree material and prints to cut a clean silhouette that imitates the sleek shape of a well-draped saree. Except this is a full boss-lady pantsuit. One option to emulate this look is to find a bright coloured two piece set from any boutique or online store. This is a perfect canvas to add brooches, a ribbon lining, or the accessories discussed previously.
The tried and tested style of wearing kurtas over jeans is loved unanimously. It’s a way to channel a true fusion look whilst staying comfortable in loose pants or jeans. There are so many different styles, prints, and lengths of kurtas available online.
My most favourite way to embellish an outfit is through jewellery, especially with earrings or necklaces. A classic earring style is the jhumkas, large chandelier earrings in a circular or conical dome/bell shape. Another striking and accessible style are hoops with charms. For inspiration, I look at the Indian silver screen. Any jewellery worn by the iconic actress Madhubala easily translates to a modern outfit.
I decided that my style is an homage to my grandmothers: strong, creative, and powerful Indian women of the 21st century. Every piece I’ve borrowed, converted, and worn reminds me of the rich culture to which it belongs to, but the modern woman it represents. I cherish their influence and their advice, making sure the jewellery always matches the outfit.