Have you noticed how the style sense among young girls has gradually changed in recent decades? How these girls are not stuck to the sari, shalwar kameez concept anymore? For our mothers it was saris after marriage, our great aunts it was sari since adolescence, for us shalwar kameez sets maybe forever. But recently, our girls and many among us, we are most comfortable in casual, smart western wear.
We are not talking about fashion, mind you, but about the very basic style factor that appeals to each individual or even each generation and that is where the change has come.
Youngsters these days take traditional garbs like shalwar kameez to be just another ethnic attire which they wear only on occasions like weddings or milads -- or maybe if they want to, for pohela boishak and such. And saris have just vanished from their wardrobes. Saris are worn only rarely and voluntarily. There are no problems in these bold changes; in fact it is the time for change and they should be able to define it the way they want to.
If the sixties were about doe-eyed girls in bouffants, the seventies about psychedelic prints and Zeenat Aman's Hare Krishna Hare Ram, the eighties about Farah Fawcett's hairstyle or Olivia Newton John's Grease, then this decade is certainly about skinny jeans and leggings topped off with a shirt like Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada.
Young girls in Dhaka now hardly get out of their jeans; for university classes or coaching centres, for a friend's birthday or days out, they are all into the corporate chic or the casual, smart westernised look. There are many reasons for this paradigm shift, but one certain reason is that they want to follow the inclusive fashion. Tops and jeans paired with a pair of converse with a scarf tossed over, and these girls are set to face the world and they carry it off very confidently. Our girls have rightly adopted this global trend as their own style.
Of course the other reason is that they get good clothes in Dhaka now because of the booming garments industry. However, there is more to the garment retail sector than the industry's rejects. We now have our own brands of western wear to boast about, for one thing, and most importantly these are not garments' surplus.
One such brand is Urban Truth, a venture of Pride Group. The store is a young girl's dream-come-true; not only does the place ooze a chic ambience but their collection mirrors the mindset of the urban generation as well. Knitted body hugging tops, viscose tops elegantly done in discharge printing, jackets that are great for layering, smart sandals and shoes, trendy jewellery, hip bags and not so flashy scarves; this store showcases everything a young girl needs. Reasonably priced, their collection changes according to seasonal demands.
Professor Momen, Director Pride Group, which owns brands like Pride, Moda and Urban Truth says, “Dhaka University is the cultural hub of the city, the students have always played an iconic role in determining the country's political, cultural and even fashion scene. Today in my class I see girls in skirts and trousers which were not seen before. This mere fact defines the change in their style sense.
“In the 60s we were just textile manufacturers, during the 90s we launched Pride as a brand and now we have diversified even more and targeted different sectors. Urban Truth associates itself with current culture. Its user-friendly line speaks of international trends. We are working for many well-reputed brands like Zara and our concept sparked from that experience,” Momen explains and talks about taking the brand to regional heights.
Urban Truth in Banani Road 11 signifies youth and celebrates their time, while their other brand Moda, housed in the same space is, as Momen explains, “A rich woman's boudoir or wardrobe”, while Pride Group's first venture Pride, spoke of Bangaliana.
“Our first venture Pride was very successful but it got trapped in the zeal of others replicating us and we suffered an image crisis. To get out of that stigma we needed an image change and Moda came into being,” Momen informs.
Elegantly designed, the store carries saris in local materials, like muslin, jacquard Tangails, Mirpur Benarasi but they are all solely designed by Moda's own group of highly qualified designers with degrees from the Fine Arts Institute. Prices at Moda are extremely reasonable compared to the quality and standard of their line. Moda also carries chiffons and georgettes imported from China.
“Local brands should have a strong footing as soon as we become a middle income country to keep international brands from dominating the markets. This is an emerging economy and local brands should be promoted or they will be taken over and internationalised,” Momen rightly warns.
We have come a long way. There was a time when second hand clothes were all we had and from that stage, we have earned the rank of one of the leading garments exporters in the world. Now the need of the hour is to create our own brands and promote them.
By Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Location: Urban Truth, Banani