Bangles are a powerful style statement here in the Subcontinent. They are an integral part of the image of the quintessential Bangali belle, with her sari, her garlanded hair, and of course, her glass bangles.
The churri or bangle has evolved over the years, taking on many forms and designs to keep up with the whims of the fashion world, and it's still a reigning favourite. From traditional reshmi churris, to the chunky oxidised metal clasps, favoured by rock chicks, to the ethno-chic beaded beauties favoured by men and women alike, the bangle has worn many faces over the years, and now the good ol' glass bangles are making a strong comeback. Read on for a report on the current trends.
Does the media really influence our behaviour and culture? The trends in the market for glass bangles say: yes, it does!
Glass bangles may have fascinated women in the past with their colours. But their colours or styles had never been so complex and fascinating like the ones available in the market now. And the market is booming.
Even a decade ago, glass bangles came in bland colours of green, black, red and yellow. The exotic ones were either imported from India or Pakistan. But now the country's Banglee artists themselves make complex ones with dazzling strokes of hues-- gold or silver and multicoloured patterns.
Local glass bangles are produced in various factories in Gazipur, Nawabganj, Lalbagh and Azimpur. The wholesalers sell these in a number of shops opposite a mosque in Chawkbazaar in addition to imported bangles from Pakistan and India.
Buyers range from customers to shopkeepers within and outside Dhaka and street vendors. Though Indian bangles are said to have a comparatively better quality and design than the local ones, customers have equal preferences for both the Indian ones and the local ones.
"Glass bangles have been in vogue since the British era and there is no substitute for them." said Gaza Mia, owner of Masud store, who is involved in the trade for 25 years. He also said that various shopkeepers from New Market and Gausia buy from his shop.
"Actresses in the Indian dramas and cinemas wear glass bangles and these in turn are being imitated by Bangladeshi actresses. So the media is largely responsible for the increase in demand for glass bangles." said Mohammad Ali, owner of Nawaj Store, who is involved in the trade for 16 years.
"Glass bangles are breakable, cheap and attractive so people tend to buy them for various ceremonies and even to decorate their homes." said Shamser, a salesperson from Shariful Store, who is involved in the trade for 16 years.
"Local bangles look good but they do not have as good a quality as the Indian ones. Customers' choices depend on whether they are looking for appearances or quality." said Sunny, owner of a nameless store, who is involved in the trade for six months. He also said that designs for bangles were made in various places but he could not specify.
"Both local and Indian bangles are offered for sale but customers prefer the local ones in Sylhet." said Chand Mia, owner of Chand Mia Store in Sylhet who buys his supply from Chawkbazaar.
"A local set costs TK 20 while an Indian set cost TK 25. So customers will obviously prefer the Indian ones because of the better quality." said Riyaz, owner of Riyaz Traders, who is involved in the trade for six years.
"Even if Indian bangles have a better quality, young girls prefer the local ones because they are attractive and cheap." said Athar Banu, who has been selling bangles in front of Eden College for 50 years. Quality- wise Indian and Pakistani bangles may be better, but what's wrong with the local ones?
Bangles are really hot this season. This versatile accessory comes in a variety of shapes, colours and styles. You can wear it in different ways to dress up your attire. Wear a single, chunky metal clasp for that office chic. Jazz up that cotton sari with some colourful glass bangles, or, wear them with your jeans and fotua for a fun fusion look. Oxidised silver bangles are available in many funky geometrical shapes these days and look fab with shalwar kameez or your favourite casual wear. Experiment and play with different combinations to create a style of your own. The reigning theme this year is bold, bright, and utterly crazy.
By Sabrina F Ahmad and Sharmin Mehriban