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Rahul Mishra -Tash Bame, SCU ’16

“India should regard Rahul Mishra, the winner of the 2014 International Woolmark Prize, as a national treasure.”  -Suzy Menkes, Vogue.co.uk

Born in a small village of the Auraiya District in India, Rahul Mishra has become an innovative sensation, magnifying fashion sustainability in all that he does.  Identifying his brand with his own name, Mishra designs with textiles which are ethically sourced.  He tends to work with blends which are over 60% wool (typically Merino).  Mishra’s garments inhabit natural qualities not only with the fibers they are woven from, but also in a visual sense with the embroidery techniques utilized on the garments that communicate flora and fauna applied throughout their surface.  In Mishra’s Spring 2017 ready to wear line, in particular, he focused on communicating his organic vision with the utilitarian wearability of his designs.  Ensuring the line’s status as “ready to wear,” every textile and hand embroidery technique has been tested and proven to be washable on a gentle cycle with a household washing machine.

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Rahul Mishra, Spring 2017 Ready To Wear

Mishra’s work is reflective of India’s culture in a historic way. Traditional techniques and craftwork are the foundational elements upon which Mishra’s designs are created, regarding his manifestations of these traditions as a modern translation of age-old history. Rahul Mishra has emerged in the fashion industry as the first Indian fashion designer to gain recognition and appear in international fashion week events around the globe.

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Rahul Mishra, 2013/2014 International Woolmark Prize Winner, Milan Fashion Week.

Mishra’s history and mission towards ethical design serve as an inspiration for aspiring designers, as well as a positive and conscious role model for how designers ought to approach a sustainable design model. Researching a modern designer from India has enriched my enthusiasm towards recognizing the differences in textile quality between garments contingent on their country of production origin, and the designer behind the garment.

Works Cited
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International Festival of Kites-Jaipur

While on our quick travels through Agra and Jaipur, we got to experience many sights that we did not see every day in Delhi. We were exposed to vast land and huge mountains and we landed in Jaipur which after Delhi, seemed to be a city of less people and more character. Something that I found interesting in the city of Jaipur were the vast amounts of kites I saw flying from people’s homes and roofs. After seeing a kite on almost every home, I figured there must be a festival of sorts and I did a little more research.

The kite flying ended up being preparation for the International Kite Festival that takes place January 14th-January 16th. The festival takes place in Jaipur every year and is one of the most attended festivals in all of Rajasthan. The festival begins on January 14th which is also known as Makar Sankranti. On the 14th, people come from every corner of the country and take part in the simple pleasure of flying kites from their rooftops. The reason for the kite flying comes from the passing of winter. People fly kites because of the benefits of the sun exposure that it will bring to their health. This festival acts as almost a start of spring or warm weather season and gets people outside again.

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Makar Sankranti-International Festival of Kites, Jaipur

What we saw of the kites were simply people preparing for the festival and showing their excitement. The actual festival in Jaipur is located at the Jaipur Polo Ground and is divided by kite competitors and “friendly” kite flying. At the end of the festival, people leave the kites tied onto their rooftops for as long as they can, sharing food and music with family, friends and neighbors.

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Jaipur “The Pink City” at night

Works Cited

Enjoy the Festival of Kites in Jaipur. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2017, from https://alsisarhotelsrajasthan.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/enjoy-the-festival-of-kites-in-jaipur/

International Kite Festival, Jaipur 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2017, from https://www.indianholiday.com/fairs-and-festivals/rajasthan/international-kite-festival-jaipur.html

Gender Roles: India

Analytical Blog Post: Gender Roles in India

When looking at the gender norms that are typical in India, we look at traditions that have been culturally significant for some time but also the changes that have been taking place in the last 50 years. As the world evolves, the genders norms that have seen as cemented in Indian culture also evolve. India still does mostly exist as a male dominated culture but there are areas in which this is being transformed. Examples of the male dominated culture is men establishing themselves as the head of the household by simply holding the title of a male, being the breadwinner of the family and having more lucrative higher paying jobs. In the patriarchal Indian culture, simply being a man is enough and has a stronger presence than a woman.

Looking at Indian culture and gender norms we specifically see clear discrimination of women. Women are looked to as a second class citizen next to males and are typically in charge of the household and taking care of the children. This presents an issue because women are not able to represent themselves in areas like politics, the educational system and other roles of power.

Another way in which women are oppressed in Indian culture is within their dress. A study came out in 2014 which had males rate themselves on a “masculinity index” and were then asked questions about their female partner. Part of the study was the fact that 1 in 3 men said that they did not allow their wives to wear the clothing of their choice. Along with this, 66% of men said that they had a greater say over women in their household. Although there has been considerable attempts to take down violence and gender birth preference in India in the past few years, there is still room for redefining policies and views on equality.

Although we see a very strong male presence in Indian life and family life, in the last 20 years we have seen an emergence of strong powerful women who are embracing a more equal life. Now more than ever, women are able to accept jobs outside of the house to be able to contribute financially for their family. While these opportunities were limited in the past, with technological and educational advancements, there is a bigger need for women in the workforce and a personal need to feel empowered and important.

In looking at gender roles in present day India it is essential to look at the differences between people of middle class and high class. Since India bases many beliefs off the idea of the class system, you are able to see that women of middle to high class lives are able to embrace more opportunities like these professions that are heavily male dominated. Since these harsh gender roles have become so ingrained into Indian Culture, it does appear to be a long fight to achieve and establish equality. There are so many subtle nuances like women’s dress which get labeled as a traditional or cultural piece where in turn it might be a tool of oppression. For equality to flourish in Indian culture policies must be changed and a new sense of empowerment and freedom must be restored to women.

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BORGEN Magazine-Gulabi Gang Protest
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GUMPTION Magazine: Commit2Change is an organization that seeks to provide education for girls who don’t have the opportunity. They begin to try to break the cycle of poverty.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Beedy, K. (n.d.). Gender Roles in India. Retrieved December 30, 2016, from http://www.borgenmagazine.com/gender-roles-india/

Gender Equity Issues in India. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://www.fsdinternational.org/country/india/weissues

Hays, J. (2015, June). Families and Gender Roles in India. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://factsanddetails.com/india/People_and_Life/sub7_3d/entry-4174.html#chapter-8

Sonica Sarna-Ethical Production and Design

January 14th-Choice Blog Post

For my choice blog, I decided to focus on the trip to Sonica Sarna’s factory and her advice for ethical sourcing and textile production. As soon as we got to the factory and began talking with Sonica, we could tell that this establishment was really a culmination of all the sustainable practices and handcrafts we had been learning about prior. Sonica’s words about ethical production and artisan crafting were not only a good influence for the careers we are moving into, but also good guidelines for where we are now as young designers.

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Hand cut patterns at Sonica Sarna Design-January 14, 2017

A piece I really appreciated and took away from this visit was Sonica’s immersion into artisan handcraft and really being part of the revival or continuation of these handcrafts. Something very inspiring was not only the uses of these villages crafts, but the time she and other employees take to train and empower artisans so these people can have a better quality of life and jobs can grow. Even though the establishment is not a non-profit, there seems to be a lot of ethical integrity to the work they perform.

Another bit that was a good takeaway was her words about being introduced to this type of ethical production and sourcing at a young age. Sonica’s words were “You know this now and you can never not know it.” I think that this really rang true for the experience as a whole. When you learn things like being able to source from a village that offers the traditional and quality handcraft, why would you go anywhere else for that? I think that researching about the crafts you are trying to foster in a design is vital because you learn why it is so important to source from artisans themselves.

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Woodblock printed silk-January 14, 2017

Masaba Gupta

Jennifer Vang SCU ’18

Masaba Gupta is one of the youngest female Indian designers. She currently has three popular lines. The lines are called Masaba, Masaba Lite, and Masaba sprint. The line Masaba line is gear towards females between the ages of 18 to 50, Masaba Lite line is geared towards females in their teens to early 20’s and is made to be affordable but still chic, and the Masaba sprint line is an athletic wear (About).

Masaba Gupta’s designs are known to be “fierce & bold with a strong play of color and cut, but traditionally rooted” (About). The picture below demonstrates the fierce and bold colors with the traditional Indian aspects of dress. The traditional Indian silhouette of dress is highlighted with bold contemporary designs of color and pattern blocking.

Aside from the ability to blend traditional Indian designs with contemporary designs, Masaba’s designs also have bohemian aspects and excessive use of prints (Masaba). Prints in Masaba’s designs have been a unique selling point in Masaba’s work. “The ability to turn mundane everyday objects into prints has been the strongest USP of the label which have translated into huge trends in the country” (Welcome). In the pictures below we are able to see the everyday items used as prints in the Masaba Lite line. The prints seen in the Masaba Lite line would be windows.

Masaba Gupta’s design incorporates traditional India and Modern day India aspects of designs to form a cohesive harmony between traditional and modern. This reflects how India’s cultural roots are strong and versatile being able to accommodate modern aspects of designs in their clothing. Researching about Masaba Gupta has allowed for me to experience what the modern day Indian woman may wear India. This information will help me understand the trends that are popular and fashion forward in India.

Citations

About US. (2015). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from https://houseofmasaba.net/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=4

House of Masaba (Photographer). (2016, December 29). Masaba Lite Dress [digital image]. Retrieved from http://houseofmasaba.com/masaba-lite.html

Welcome to MASABA | Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from http://houseofmasaba.com/home.html

Masaba (Photographer). (2016, December 29). Mint Green Silk Saree with a Multi-print patch border and a Gold Trimming at the Edge with Gold Blouse Piece [digital image].Retrieved from https://houseofmasaba.net/index.php?route=product/product&path=96_128&product_id=745

Masaba Gupta. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from https://strandofsilk.com/designer/masaba-gupta

Patriarchy and Female Empowerment

Hannah Johnson SCU ’17

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Credit: Raveendran

It’s no secret that the feminist movement and discussions around the topic of female empowerment and the patriarchy have come into the spotlight in recent years. It is an issue that has grown in recognition and has been addressed differently in various countries. The social status of women in India has been influenced by numerous religions over the last 5,000 years. During the 19th century the first wave of feminism took place in India, as the first generation of English educated women came to head the women’s movement. At the time, this only influenced women of higher castes. The movement helped lay the groundwork for organizations such as AIWC and the YWCA. These groups helped fight child marriage, advocate for women’s voting rights, and teach life skills to women in India. In recent years new laws have been put into place to criminalize stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks (Bagri, 2013). The fight for women’s liberation has been difficult, as improvements to women’s safety come from a patriarchal lens “rather than referring to practices to protect women’s independence and livelihood, safety is most often referenced in relation to women taking measures to protect themselves through remaining inside the house, dressing conservatively, and traveling with male escorts.” (Livine, 2015, p. 9).

Dress is influenced by the patriarchy to be conservative while women follow traditional gender roles. I think that the cultural differences in women’s roles will be noticeable. Having prior research on how women bimage titleehave in their country is important to understanding behavior of locals and how you should act as a visitor. I thought it was interesting how despite negative aspects of the patriarchy positive changes are being made. I was intrigued by discussions on traditional practices such as Sati regarding whether they are sexist or feminist in their own way. I also found it interesting how the roles of religion and tradition are trying to find a place where tradition and the feminist movement can coexist.

Credit: Aneesha Dalal, Via Buzzfeed

Sources:

Bagri, N. T. (2013, March 8). Where is India’s Feminist Movement Headed? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/where-is-indias-feminist- movement-headed/?_r=0

Livine, E. (2015). Violence Against Women in India: Origins, Perpetuation and Reform Retrieved from http://www.cmu.edu/hss/globalstudies/images/livne-gs-capstone-paper.pdf

Dr Patel, V. & Khajuria, R. (2016). Political Feminism in India
n Analysis of Actors, Debates and Strategies Retrieved from http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/ bueros/indien/12706.pdf

Raveendran, (Photographer). (2014, March 28). Indian women march to parliament on International World Women’s day [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-03-28/after-delhi-gang-rape-indian-tv-dramas-go-feminist

Dalal, A. (Photographer). (2014, July 14). BuzzFeed asked people around the country why India needs feminism. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/india-needs-feminism?utm_term=.pvB87AP75#.reEae5DeA

Cultural Traditions Upheld

Stephanie Herr ’17

To much of my surprise, when I walked through M Maketplace on our first day in Delhi I saw chili peppers hanging outside one of the local storefronts (pictured below). The significance of this in the Indian culture was explained to me by Professor Anupama as a marker that kept evil spirits and energy out of stores. By doing so, good energy would come to shop owners and it would allow for business to flourish.

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I have only ever known of hanging chili peppers and red corn outside of a home before seeing them in the marketplace. In the Hmong culture this symbolized keeping out evil spirits and energy from entering the home. It was refreshing to see chili peppers being used as a marker to keep out evil spirits and energy across different cultures but for the same reasons.

 

On our last day in India, we went to DLF Emporio, which is a luxury mall in Delhi carrying brands such as Burberry, Jimmy Choo, and Anita Dongre. This was the last place I would expect to see upholding the cultural tradition of placing chili peppers at the storefront to ward off evil spirits and energy. But it was here at a high-end Indian clothing store named Ashish N Soni that I also saw the placing of chili peppers at the storefront (pictured below). I took a moment to stop and appreciate the fact that this high-end Indian clothing store housed in a building with other high-end international and domestic brands still stayed true to its Indian roots. The fact that this store could have omitted the use of the chili peppers at the storefront, but still hung them up made me think of how authentic this marker was to the brand itself. Walking throughout the luxury mall, I did not see any of the other high-end Indian clothing stores hanging chili peppers at their storefronts to ward off bad spirits and energy.

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Coexistence of Styles

Patricia Malec

Looking into a crowd here in India is incredibly colorful and almost a little overwhelming. Now, if we just focused on the clothing aspect of it (this is, after all, Fashion Industry in India), it becomes fascinating.

Just about everywhere I’ve been in the world is dominated by westernized clothing. In the States, if a friend of yours shows up in something traditional like lederhosen, you’re going to wonder if they lost a bet or something. In Mexico, the only people I ever see wearing traditional clothing are mariachi band members and tourists in sombreros. And in Poland, only the folk dancers wear traditional garb and classic prints. Westernized is really all I know.

But India. Oh man, India is something else entirely. Sure there are western styled clothing options here, but somehow, those styles manage to coexist with traditional clothing, prints, and colors. It could have been assumed that maybe older people would dress in Indian fashions to hold on to traditions, but I’ve seen grandmothers in jeans and a sweatshirt while their granddaughters are in saris and vice versa. And there have been friend groups where both styles were present and they were all just hanging out. Now, there are a lot of variables that could be the cause of this coexistence and I think that they all work together instead of just standing alone; income, profession, attachment to tradition, and personal preference are some that come to mind.

Here we have two different stores in the Emporium in Delhi. Two stores, one mall.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Emma-Rose Nickles SCU 2018

Sabyasachi Mukherjee is a Bengali clothing designer who studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. His work has been described as the “epitome of grace and brilliance” (www.kalkifashion.com). He has a shop called Pia Ka Ghar in California which features his designs (piakaghar.com).

Sabyasachi is known for his contemporary designs based on traditional Indian clothing styles and traditional Indian bridal wear. Additionally, he is known for his take on Western accessories (www.kalkifashion.com). Sabyasachi’s work is reflective of Indian culture in that it incorporates traditional Indian clothing style elements such as particular fabric choices, and often times, a modest aesthetic. His ability to appeal to both contemporary Western fashion and traditional Indian fashion has contributed to his immense success on a global scale.

Sabyasachi has established a very successful bridal business in India. This seems to be something he is very well known for as Indian weddings are such a culturally significant event. “Using indigenous crafts of dying and weaving fabric, incorporated with modern silhouettes, he has spearheaded a push by Indian designers into the broader international fashion market”. This quote from businessoffashion.com explains that Sabyasachi has inspired the Indian fashion and bridal market so much that it is now significant on a global scale.

Researching Sabyasachi and his work will affect my travels to India because I will now be on the lookout for his designs and people trying to emulate his style aesthetic. He is a very influential designer in India particularly. I will observe street style in India to see if I am able to see people wearing his designs or pieces that are meant to look like Sabyasachi’s designs.

Sabyasachi. Retrieved from: http://www.kalkifashion.com/blogs/designs-that-speak-volumes-without-a-word-sabyasachi

https://piakaghar.com

Sabyasachi Mukherjee. Retrieved from: https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/people/sabyasachi-mukherjee

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Gown Designed by Sabyasachi

Sabyasachi Dress. Retrieved from: http://www.vogue.in/content/33-times-bollywood-chose-sabyasachi-wedding-wear/#2015-sridevi

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Sabyasachi Designs

Sabyasachi Mukherjee Ensembles. Retireved from: http://designeranarkalisuit.in/sabyasachi-inspired-anarkali-suits-2016/

Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?

During our time here in India, we have seen a variety of people both native and foreign. In most cases, the locals have been clothed in traditional wear, whether that be a sari, choli, turban, or kurta. Occasionally, our class encountered a group who were obviously tourists such as ourselves. Some of the tourists were seen wearing the same clothes as the locals. Are these instances considered cultural appropriation? Or are they simply an example of foreigners showing appreciation for the Indian culture through their manner of dress? These are difficult questions with no clear and immediate answer.

Cultural appropriation is described in the Oxford Dictionary as “the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another.” Appropriation generally occurs at the expense of a minority cultural which is of a lower complex regarding social, political, military, or economic status and typically ensues without a complete understanding or desire to discover the origin of the culture’s practice. This results in important cultural aspects of dress, practices, and beliefs being converted into meaningless “pop-culture fads” or used as entertainment for the viewing pleasure of the imitating culture group.

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(Supermodel Heidi Klum dressed as the Hindi goddess, Kali, for Halloween. Photo taken from CNN)

On the contrary, cultural appreciation is learning of another culture’s significant artifacts with respect and dignity. It is learning to value the origins of the culture’s practices and having an intrinsic desire to further discover and uplift the opinions and voices of an oppressed culture.

Visiting the Taj Mahal, our class encountered many similar student groups from across the globe. Some looked to be of Caucasian descent but were clothed in embellished cholis, full skirts, and saris. Could this be an example of cultural appropriation? Given the context and location of the encounter, the class and I did not interpret it in this way. Though, The Meaning of Dress, looks at how one dresses themselves as “powerful because it communicates who one is and who one is not,” I found that in them dresses in cultural clothing as a way to communicate a desire for learning more about the Indian culture—starting first with its manner of dress. Seeing as the other students were wearing the cultural clothing at the Taj Mahal, it could be inferred that the students did have a general longing to appreciate India’s architect and clothing. Another interpretation of the encounter can be traced to my preexisting Western beliefs and connotation revolving around the term appropriation. In my eyes and coming from an American background, any form of taking elements from another cultural for social gain or approval is seen as problematic because it reinforces imperialism and can lead to racism. However, from an Indian local’s point of view, they can just as easily view this action as a form of flattery and a foreigner’s take on the country’s beautiful textiles and craftsmanship. Lastly, these traditional garments could have been worn out of support and aspiration to outreach and display to others, India’s rich culture, and fabric.

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Seeing the other Caucasian student groups sporting the Indian cultural clothing, I was intially taken aback. My initial thought was that the clothing was being misused and handled inappropriately. However, upon further reflection, and in seeing how the natives responded to the student groups, I was able to form a more articulate and positive attitude on the matter.

Works Cited

Lynch, A., & Strauss, M. D. (2015). Ethnic dress in the United States: a cultural encyclopedia. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Miller-Spillman, K. A., Reilly, A. H., Hunt-Hurst, P., & Damhorst, M. L. (2012). The Meanings of Dress. New York: Fairchild Books, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2017.

Kaylie O’Connor – January 17th -The Flight Home and Customs Experience

With excitement in my bones I boarded the plane to go home at 3 am on January 15th. Getting through customs in India was easier than I thought it was going to be. We were asked whether we had been around livestock, where we had traveled and what items we were bringing back home. I believe we were asked about livestock and areas of travel due to diseases that we could get from animals as well as illnesses like malaria that could come through mosquitoes. I imagine that the amount of items we were returning with was a safety precaution, but I cannot think of what someone would bring on the plane that would not be caught in the scanners going through security.

The food on the plane was not what I expected. I expected we would have more curry and rice meals on the first flight, but instead we were given an odd concoction that resembled chicken and mashed potatoes (I can only speak for non-vegetarian meals). This could partially be because we were on a flight leaving India, but it could also be due to the fact that airplane meals need to be simple enough that a majority of people would enjoy it.

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Even though we were only halfway through our trip, I was so excited to reach Amsterdam. Being able to have coffee that was sweetened as well as find some resemblance with the culture around me was comforting after two weeks abroad. Since I had a bad experience with the Paris TSA, I was apprehensive, but overall my experience in the Amsterdam airport was short and sweet.

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Sleeping was difficult during the trip, but I was able to get a few Z’s in on and off throughout the two flights. Being able to stay occupied with movies also helped the trips go faster.

When we landed in Minneapolis, I could not have jumped off of the plane quicker. American customs took more time than the customs we experienced coming into India. The first main difference I noticed was that people lined up and waited, while at the Indian customs at the beginning of the trip it was not unusual for someone to cut in front of you. That’s something that was regular all over India and was hard not to be offended by. In america we wait our turns and go one by one and it’s not that they’re being rude, that’s just how the system works over there.

Once I got through the first line, the picture taking and verification process was pretty quick. They asked similar questions of us as they did when we left India, and within 20 minutes we were out of the airport, on our way home!