The other day, The Guy and I had gone shopping for clothes. I was looking for some tees and tops and landed up at the usual haunts – Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Benetton… and other clothes available in Lucknow. And while I found nothing to my liking there, I noticed a rather disarming trend. The posters at all these stores showed women who looked nothing like me, sporting the clothes that these brands expect me to buy.
How difficult is it for clothing brands to understand that the Indian body type is nothing like the American/European type? And how difficult is it to see that what may suit the fair skinned folks may not be ideal for complexions in the Indian subcontinent? Why are they then selling clothes to us by modelling them on tall, super slim, fair women with blonde hair, near-flat chests and butts? At my slimmest, I couldn’t look like that.
Not just for women’s apparel. Firang models seem to be the preferred choice even among male and child models. Do clothes look more appealing on someone who is five shades lighter than the people they’re intended for? Or should Indians aspire to look like someone they genetically never can?
With more and more foreign apparel brands coming into our country, like Zara, Mango, FCUK and other high-street fashion brands, there needs to be greater awareness about customising colours, shapes and sizes to Indian standards. Otherwise we’ll have more and more men and women in the country (there already are enough, aren’t they?) trying to fit into clothes meant for people in an altogether another continent. For an average Indian woman, who’s more curvaceous than her counterparts in say Britain, shopping at these places is a pain. Because you enter a trial room hoping to look like that girl in the catalogue, only to realise that the clothes don’t fall on you the way they do on her.
But the onus of correcting the imbalance is greater on Indian brands, trying to lure the Indian consumer. I can for once think that a Mango or Zara, not being an Indian brand, has non-Indian models, but what justification is there for brands like Van Heusen and Lilliput to be putting firang models on their cover?
To be fair, I know there are market strategies at play that force these companies to decide in favour of fair-skinned foreigners over Indian models. I was reading a case study of Killer Jeans, an Indian brand of jeans, that wanted to posit itself as an international brand. So, they resorted to using foreign models in their publicity material, to give the impression that they are an international brand. Apparently, it worked.
But as a consumer, at least I would be convinced of the standards of an Indian company using Indian models too. Wouldn’t you?