Fashion Chennai

Not only is Chennai the fourth largest city in India, but an up-and-coming fashion and innovative design center. Don't believe me? With such names as Etalage, Hi-Style, and even Sperm (yes, you read that correctly) and hidden gems found throughout the city, it's hard to doubt Chennai's evolving style status.
Talks of developing a new mega-plaza complex in N'Bakkam only affirms what both brand names and smaller labels already knew- that this thriving Southern city is a perfect niche market.
The traditional coexists seamlessly with the modern; western-style dresses are beaded with intricate Indian patterns and sewn beautifully, large brands such as FabIndia retail salwar kameez sets in non-conventional patterns, such as polka-dots, and are flatteringly cut to fit a woman's form. This seeming paradox can be viewed best in the heart of the city- where every passer-by dons a different look. One girl could be wearing cool Levis with a breezy tunic, and the next could be glowing in a bright sari. This kind of individual style radiates on the streets, but is only now beginning to emerge.
Western influence, in the form of advertisements, the presence of classics such as Levi's and Nike, and tourists, aid in the development of the new attitude. This influence can best be experienced in Bollywood films, which add some heat to this trend with leading ladies sporting more cleavage and body hugging looks. In North America, it's all about original style. Mixing and matching vintage finds with designer stuff to create a distinct look is the norm. But Chennaites seem to favour two distinct looks: the flawless and elegant, or the newly developing diversion from this- which involves Western cuts and more skin. This can be demonstrated even by walking into Spencer Plaza and finding "party tops", clingy bright numbers with rips, rivets, and splashy text.
At the same time, you can't just walk into any store in the city and get exactly what you saw in the latest Vogue. Fit, look, and color are key to being in style, which is why walking into any tailor's shop will not yield the best results. Trailblazers such as Silkworm and Etalage can take custom orders and tailor-make the garment for an individual, with enough fashion insight and information to know exactly what "bubble hem", "asymmetrical cut", or "slouchy" implies. Having a global perspective gives companies like this an edge, and spearhead Chennai's growing label as "fashion hot spot".
So is it Western influence or a natural progression to more drama, a la Bombay, that is leading Chennai down this more edgy and Western road? Whatever the answer, the sexy modern look is only heating up.

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