Hotels in India » Fashion in India » Accessories



Accessories as a concept ahs been borrowed by India from the west. Over the last two decades the demand for high quality designer accessories has resulted in a large number of manufacturers flooding the market with a variety of items. A colourful range of shoes, bags, ties, belts and watch-straps are available in India and are being exported to the west.

Accessories are an entirely modern and totally borrowed concept in Indian. An idea that the British Empire could well take credit for introducing. Although jewellery had been imaginatively fashioned to make cummerbunds (waist-belts) in silver and gold and occasionally decorative pearl and gem encrusted batwas (purses), these were more ornamental and not really used as accessories. Even mojris (closed slippers) heavily embroidered with gold and silver threads were worn by the royally and the nobility.

Distinctive social patterns and class systems existed even when it came to ordinary footwear. Traditionally orthodox brahmin sensibilities were deeply offended by the thought of using animal skin in any form. Even today one is not permitted to carry into the inner precincts of a temple a leather bag or slippers. The mochi, who patterned footwear was considered to belong to the backward community and could not aspire to use the very type of footwear he would fashion for the upper classes. Interestingly enough the yogis who roamed the hills and forests protected their feet by wearing wooden sandals.

For all the advances the country has made, people in the countryside still do not wear

Slippers or carry a purse. They cling to the old habit of having a cloth pouch, tucked into the waist inside the dhoti or ghaghra. Don’t be surprised if you stumble across a woman dressed heavily n a Kanjeevaram saree worth thousands of rupees with solid diamonds round her neck and ears but not wearing slippers. She is most likely to be an orthodox south Indian brahmin.

However, India has now stepped into the field of accessories with tremendous success. The market is flooded with a colourful range of shoes, ties, bags, watchstraps, sunglasses etc. Indians who are today very well travelled and aware of international fashions have begun to demand and expect high quality goods. There has been an increase in purchasing power, leading to the market being flooded with interesting knick-knacks.

India has reached a stage where it is successfully exporting coal to Newcastle. Enterprising entrepreneurs like the owners of Metro Shoes are now designing shoes for Bally’s of Switzerland and ‘Hushpuppys’ of America to drop a few names. Zodiac is renowned for its exclusive ties that are sold by high fashion shops in Europe. Indian scarves are eagerly sought after for their fine silks and paisley patterns and sold even at the prestigious ‘Harrods’ in London. Shoes and scarves, bags and belts made in India have found a market all over the world today and this is no small achievement for a country that began taking an interest in accessories only a couple of decades ago.

Splendid Shoes

The dark ages have gone. Those favoured, dependable black and brown numbers have been more than partially eclipsed by unbelievable, unbeatable new shades. The myriad colours range from vibrant violets, brilliant blues, ravishing reds, shimmering silvers and gleaming golds to delicate cool creams, pretty pinks and lovely lavenders in styles that the bolder more flamboyant and upbeat than ever before. You have them in vampish high heels, fashionable wedges, comfortable flatties – shoes, slippers, sandals, sneakers and scholls in leather, plastic and silks, in patterns and colours that mix and match or clash and contrast for top fashion performance.

The shoemakers who are most popular are the ‘Metro’ father and son combine – Malik and Rafique Tejani. Their impressive Colaba Showroom in Bombay has on display more than 1000 different varieties of footwear. In keeping with the name they have opened hoe shops in all the metros in India. In the words of Malik Tejani, owner of Metro Shoeshop, “the” owners of Bally’s shoes visited my shop here in Colaba and were genuinely surprised and impressed that there existed such exclusive shoe shops in India with such an outstanding range of styles. Nowhere in the world do they have so many shops devoted to selling only footwear, the shops abroad are normally tucked away in a corner of a big departmental store. You have to remember that with a burgeoning population of nearly 800 millions even if one per cent of these bought shoes from my shop I am bound to be successful. A small corner in a departmental store cannot possibly meet the increasing demands of the growing upwardly mobile, highly fashion conscious crowd. Earlier people bought themselves two pairs of footwear and replaced them only after they completely wore off. Today almost every city person picks shoes in styles and colours to match their clothes”.

“We even have evening slippers and bags for little girls who insist on dressing like their mothers. The shoe craze has snowballed so much that recently I had this marwari bride who picked up 25 pairs of matching footwear as part of her trousseau.” Mr. Tejani’s metro shoeshop is a definite halt for all Indians visiting their country as they cannot dream of buying such an exotic exquisite range, at such unbelievably low prices. His shoes and sandals for women range from Rs. 100/- for utility working shoes to Rs.500/- for evening shoes. For men he has slip-ons ranging from Rs. 150/- to high quality leather boots for Rs. 900/-. The shoes for children range from Rs.50/- to Rs.300/-.

Beautiful Bags

If shoe freaks are doubling and tripling so are the handbag enthusiasts. A shopping spot unparalleled for 60 wallets, pouches, purses, portfolios, briefcases, travelling bags and handbags is Dabboo Street f Mohamed Ali Road in Bombay. Mohamed Ali Road as its name suggests giving it a very Mohamedan flavour. The entire area sells everything from sweetmeasts phirni and like sivain to clothes like the burkha and topi that the muslim would need. Dabboo Street is again dominated by Muslim traders who sell leather and leather goods. A good 25 shops in this street specilize in selling only accessories from bags to belts to jackets. Some of their products could well compare with Italian goods- good imitations of Traussadi and Louis Vinition that could pass of for the original. Kutab Bhai who own one of the more fashionable shops, Sahiba, down Dabboo Street and also exports his goods especially leather jackets for men and women says, “awareness among the customers has certainly increased. They follow international market trends so we buy catalogues that feature bag designs and reproduce the same style. Exposure to international trade fairs and encouragement and policies of the Indian Government have made it easy for us to import dies and machines and catch up with the international fashion styles. Our finish is no longer faulty. Our leather is now drum dyed helping maintain a permanent fast colour on leather”. Patchwork antique finish bags made from garment leather waste is the latest introduction in the market. Also popular are printed leather bags, embossed suedes and the flashy shiny imported synthetic material. The basic trend has been to do away with brass buckles and attachments as they tarnish fast. Hand woven tassels and bows are more sought after. Besides the sling, the draw string and the clutch bags what continues to be popular with the working women are the organizer pattern utility bags with compartments for visiting cards, identity cards, documents, keys coins, currency, makeup etc.

The men seek the two-in-once, double-decker briefcase which is really an overnight case with briefcase that is detachable above. Bags and wallets that come in all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns from the utility bag to the evening bag, are available. Prices ranging from Rs. 100/- for the little clutch coin pouch with frame to Rs. 600/- for a good evening bag to Rs. 2000/- for the double-decker and jackets. Belts with imported buckles and decoration fasteners that snap cleverly are priced at Rs. 100/- to Rs. 200/-.

Terrific Ties and Silky Scarves

Ties are back in fashion. People, more importantly young boys, want to look smart again doing away with the scruffy so called casual look. The stifling weather conditions have been overcome by the air-conditioned working atmosphere. Ties though have alimited fashion range. They can only change in width from an inch and a half pencil slim to 6 inches broad making it look almost like a bib. Thankfully today it stands at a reasonable eight , to eight and half centimetres. Zodiac, the trendiest name in men’s accessories has introduced the latest range of ties called the ‘king of kings’. These ties in jacquard polyester, feel and look like silk and are printed in old traditional kashmiri patterns. Their ties range from the ‘kings style’ priced at Rs. 42/- to the ‘king of kings’ Rs. 500/-. Ties in prints and patterns in rich colour and intricate designs the perennially popular stripes, geometrical neat prints, and the solid plains are all available at the Zodiac outlets. They were also one of the first to introduce the cottonlon socks that is cotton inside used as the natural fibre for hygiene and nylon outside to give it stretchability. These socks continue to sell like hot cakes. The market demands stretching far more than can be met. Their a handkerchiefs, belts, wallets and silk scarves are priced to suit all pockets all tastes and all occasions.

Just like the muffler, the scarf too is worn on casual evenings. Indian women facny the duppata, (a kind of scarf) that comes in chiffons, silks and cottons crushed printed and embroidered. These duppatas are fashionably worn around the waist of a skirt loosely knotted, they are even worn around the neck, scarf fashion with jeans and shirt and of course the traditional salwar kameez. It can also be turbaned around the head. The duppata is so varied and versatile that there is a special magic about this piece of apparel.

Accessible and inexpensive, the pavements in the city offer an interesting variety of shoes, bags, and duppatas, sunglasses, hairbands and clips and even socks that would put some of the leading accessories shops in the shade. No wonder then that these pavement splendours that are really super bargains are the shopper’s delight.