The Indian consumer today has grown and how! With luxury brands opening shop everyday in India, the market is only growing on a daily basis. As the luxury stores open their sparkling doors to the Indian people, who knew that the words from the introductory song of Sex and the City : “Gucci, Fendi, Prada” would be on the lips of the people.
My point does not find itself in the brands that are opening shop in India, but the Indian people opening up to the brand. Pre warning my observation might hurt the sentiments of many Indians, but hey this is a blog again. My story goes back to last month in Delhi, I had stepped into the high-end luxury mall Emporio, elated at the sight of all the brands available, From Salvatore Ferragamo, Todds, Dior, to Jaipur Gems, the mall had everything that could cater to the brand hungry, style junkie. What I was not prepared for was coming up next, as I walked through the glossy corridors and the angels of fashion took out their harp and played the most melodic music ever, I heard a faint voice behind me go ‘CHANNEL’ , curious at what channel was I turned a 180* wondering what I had missed? What was channel? How did I not know about it? And there it was, my world came crashing down, she stood straight, tall, beautiful, with straight long hair, a pair of dark blue branded denims, an Ed Hardy T-shirt, flip-flops which screamed Louis Vuitton, and a bag that did not match the ensemble. There it was, I stood right next to our very own ‘Indian Fashion Industry Victim’. The one who was sold to the stores, was daily made conscious of her weight, strained her purse for the new bag, and would go to any extent to be the – IN THING. I saw her face it was layered with makeup to cover the beautiful dusky skin which lay within, the latest lipstick from Chanel, and eyes done up loud and obnoxious. I was not bothered by her being dressed the way she was, but the 100 more clones of her that walked into the store one at a time. Then it dawned upon me, “Have we as Indians, sold ourselves to the west?”
We were always considered to be the smart consumer, who not only consumed but also saved for their future, worshipping Goddess Laxmi was not merely a ritual but a heartfelt appreciation for all that God ever gave us. Beauty was always from within and not packaged in a glossy little box, and surely my 12-year-old cousin was not commented on being ‘Hot’ on Facebook (I am still startled by that one,and sworn against midnight stalking.)
I too am not a fair one to speak, a general observation of my very own life makes me aware of what we as people have become– Before I began studying media, and was made aware of the ‘ADVERTISING GENIUS’ of the industry I used – a face wash a hand cream, a shampoo, a body lotion, a face lotion, foot cream, sun tan lotion, lip balm, to be topped by a lip gloss, lipstick, kajal, liner, and the works (these are the ones I remember at the tip of my fingers.) today as I have realized the packaging and reselling of these products and how we are nothing but mere guinea pigs to the industry, I have come down to a home-grown medimix and a shampoo.
As I see everyday young girls, of age 16, 17 popping out lipsticks, hair straighteners, ranting lines from the latest episodes of 90210, Gossip Girl (or whatever they see), and endorsing their idol – Blaire Waldorf (an upper east ender from New York on Gossip Girl), I cant help but notice a serious dumbing down of a whole generation. As goes the fight of one of my favourite professor’s, we are losing out on something, which all our predecessors had fought for, the right to be individual and be respected for that. Happiness is manufactured to us in a little box today, and being cute is the only way for an Indian woman. We are being packaged daily with the way we look, how we dress, what we speak, and what we think. In sheer competition with the west, and a want to be only as American as we can be, are we as Indians losing our identity?
The land of Yoga and meditation, has its children running to the gym for fitness, or adopting Power Yoga as a form of fitness. Where beauty treatments were home gown and highly applaud by researchers world over, we run to a doctor for the latest and most effective Botox shot.
As Kate Moss tries to gain more weight, we only try to lose more.
As the west gradually finds itself drifting towards the Indian Family system, we only alienate ourselves further from it. Are we really who we were? Have we forgotten what being an Indian was all about – at the end of this all I can hopelessly assure myself of is that, the brand I heard of that day was ‘CHANEL’.