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Eye on Fashion

By Maheen Khan
Fashion designer, Mayasir

In Bengal, fashion evolved with a direction kindled by Western influence with the making of tailored sari blouses about a hundred and forty years ago. It can easily be stated that the ladies of the Tagore family played a very important role in creating and developing a strong fashion statement.

Kolkata was then the fashion capital of India and the society ladies experimented with their sari drapes. Long or short end pieces, hobble petticoats and peplum blouson blouses almost imitating the dresses of the Victorian era. Although I must add that the story of our fashion did not originate here.

In fact it can be traced back over three thousand years earlier to the relics of Paharpur, Chandraketugarh and Tamluk in Bengal. The stone carving clearly depicts the maturity of our ornamentation and rich textile heritage. The aesthetics are very well-defined and do not fail to mirror the discerning culture and customs of the times.

Current fashion trends
A fashionable sari

In Bangladesh today a stylish sari is a product that is tailored. Yardage fabric is assembled with borders and end pieces. Borders vary in width and multiple narrow borders are added in variations of prints and textures.

These saris are engineered in bold floral elements on the chest and hip areas. Homogenised motifs in Chinese rose; most fashion manufacturers also use Lily and Tulips extensively as motifs sprayed and in a dynamic way.

These are mostly machine-embroidered but some applications of 3D handmade fabric flowers are applied to create interest and dimension. Prints for ground is not uncommon, embellished with stone and beading, these saris are fancied as high fashion.

Haute couture sari blouse
These are all the rage currently in Dhaka. The fashionistas of our fine city are ardently passionate about their sari blouses much more so than foreseen. These blouses are being prepared with interesting sleeves -- sheer, puffed, ballooned and so on. High necked, wide-shouldered, halter and with curious attention to the back neckline. Scooped with fascinating tie adornments. Padded and lined, the blouses are constructed with form and facet giving a certain degree of magnitude to the bearer.

Ready made garments
This industry has grown enormously over the past thirty years. Beginning in the early 80s the industry has grown steadily. The start may have been slow but with closer inspection we will find far more players in the retail business especially over the past ten years.

It is fair to say that the local industry is growing parallel to the retailers and merchandisers of Indian goods. The most recent addition of the Pakistani garments is a noteworthy inclusion especially towards the traditional women's ensemble.

Bangladeshi ready made garments are mostly produced in cotton while the imported pieces come in rayon, viscose, nets, synthetic crepes and chiffons.

Chain stores
There are many retailers that have advanced and grown with a boom. The expansion has reached out to a larger group of target customers. Many stores are propelled into pockets of hubs in the city to reach out and avail their presence.

In a city like ours, with bottleneck traffic jams, it is advisable to open shop in as many areas as possible. It can only spur and escalate the business.

The local fashion industry has increased its share of business volume; it has inflated in size and maximised its growth. To facilitate the buyers' needs, garments are being produced in invigorated capacity. With the lack of technology the printing, dyeing and weaving industries did not develop and facilitate the design studios. As a result there is boredom, uniformity and a lack of variety in our collections.

There is no exhilaration or thrill when collections are launched, as on most occasions they are repetitive with very little buzz. The science of textile and fabrication of garments not only needs research, development and execution but it must exhibit oomph and spirit. The buyer's appetite needs the passion and the dynamism of refreshed designs in a relish of styles in inviting new seasonal colours.

Fashion media
Over the past twenty years the media has played a key role in propagating fashion here. Many publications are circulating where regularly stories are being covered on the fashion scene. Seasonal and festive collections are a regular feature in the print media.

The press also has shown specific interest in the traditions that speak for the roots of our fashion industry. The news on the artisans, their living arts and local design development are also closely monitored.

All this is a great source of support to the local industry and to the thousands of people who are involved in the business. The broadcasting and other electronic media are also doing their share to promote a Bangladeshi fashion landscape.

I believe more may be possible to add to the panorama of our fashion culture. The industry could use specific pre- and post- seasonal events to promote the collections that could reach a larger audience. More fashion-related programmes could definitely support the industry and boost the much-needed propaganda to promote local fashions.

Fashion shows
Shows are the window to fashion collections. It is a common practice to build fantastic storylines -- a way to connect with the buyers and galvanise their interest in the product lines. It is necessary to hold shows regularly so that buyers' enthusiasm toward collections is revived. The larger group events should take place under strict supervision of Fashion Councils or similar organisations; a design house could also organise shows independently. The fashion industry is still in its teething stage and to date not a great deal has been achieved in the area of fashion promotion that has the razzmatazz, and hype pumping a stimulus to lift the merchandise. The attempts are irregular and few and far between.

A Bangladeshi Style
What could this be? Simply stated our weaves are distinct and native to our land. Garments and accessories developed with them can easily reflect an original style. Our textiles, folk embroidery, floor mats, baskets and terracotta display unique motifs. They are rooted in our culture. We can easily be inspired to harness elements of design from such a rich canvas of patterns. In the business fashion styles are universal and only with some adaptation and revision. The evolution of our style is modeled with adjustment so that it can work for our local market. Let us hope our design industry will prosper and blossom for our burgeoning market. It should also support and strengthen our ancillary industries to fortify its existence so that our work is not left to become homogeneous.

Model: Heera
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Makeup and styling: Farzana Shakil
Wardrobe: Manick Benarashi
Special thanks to Sayed Siddiqui


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