An Inflection Point for Indian Models | Global Currents

MUMBAI, India — In 2008, Riccardo Tisci and Jean Paul Gaultier modified the lifetime of a younger Indian mannequin named Lakshmi Menon, who made her debut at their Paris exhibits. At the time, Indian models have been conspicuously absent from the runway. But Menon, boosted by this early endorsement, quickly went on to grace catwalks and campaigns for the likes of Chanel, Hermès, Givenchy, J.Crew, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus, turning into considered one of India’s most profitable fashion exports and paving the best way for a wave of models from the Indian subcontinent.

Last month, India Today, the nation’s prime information journal, which seldom veers from hard-nosed politics, ran a canopy story with the headline “Brown Girls in the Ring,” documenting the rise of Indian models like Bhumika Arora, Pooja Mor, Radhika Nair and Dipti Sharma. Radhika Nair and Dipti Sharma, particularly, have each walked the runway for Demna Gvasalia‘s white-hot Balenciaga, which each put them on the map and underscored simply how far Indian models have come.

On the demand aspect, the shift is proof of latest pleasure for non-traditional beauty and the rising energy of distinction. “Being unique in their looks, with exciting personal stories of their own, these models are seen as more valuable today than being just plain pretty,” stated artistic director and stylist Nikhil Mansata, who casted Indian models Kiyara, Komal Gajjar, Urvashi Umrao, Suzanne Baker, Madhulika Sharma, Saket Sharma, Nitigya Singh, Ravyanshi Mehta and Tuhir Brahmbhatt to seem in a specifically commissioned shoot for BoF. “I believe that the Indian girls have a unique look, with a slight androgynous touch, that exudes beauty and strength — and that’s what appeals to me as a manager,” added Joanna Olsson, a director at IMG in Paris.

Kiyara (IMG) wears Hermès | Photography by R Burman for BoF

“I believe that the Indian girls have a unique look, with a slight androgynous touch, that exudes beauty and strength — and that’s what appeals to me as a manager,” stated Joanna Olsson, a director at IMG in Paris.

On the availability aspect, one of many key drivers for this phenomenon is social media and the numerous position it performs in offering a platform for new expertise, regardless of the place they’re from. “I have a hawk’s eye on social media feeds for potential stars,” stated Gunita Stobe, one of many founders of Anima Creative Management, India’s main expertise company, who discovered Pooja Mor in a listing that was posted on Facebook. In December 2014, IMG Models launched @WeLoveYourGenes (#WLYG), an Instagram scouting account devoted to discovering new modelling expertise around the globe with the anthem “no matter your heritage, parentage or background, We Love Your Genes.” Komal Gajjar, a small-town woman from Ahmedabad, India, was one such discovery.

But wherever they’re discovered, the rise of Indian models can also be unmistakably the product of the rising spending energy of Indian fashion and luxurious shoppers. “According to a recent estimate, the Indian luxury market is about $18.3 billion and is growing at a compounded annual growth rate of about 25 percent,” stated Darshan Mehta, president and chief government of Reliance Brands, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, which holds the India licenses for manufacturers like Diesel, Juicy Couture, Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Ermenegildo Zegna.

Over the previous decade, India added round 500 new ultra-high-net value people (UHNWIs) yearly, whereas over the subsequent decade the quantity will improve by roughly 1,000 per yr, based on property consultancy Knight Frank’s newest wealth report. While luxurious manufacturers like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior and Burberry have already got a robust foothold within the nation, luxurious items retailer Saks Fifth Avenue is actively taking a look at India as a brand new vacation spot for enlargement, in line with sources.

High actual property costs, obstacles to overseas direct funding (FDI), an excessively complicated tax code and lack of sufficient infrastructure have lengthy stunted the expansion of India’s fashion and luxurious market. But current reforms to FDI and tax laws are serving to to ease doing enterprise within the nation. Today, India is the second most engaging market for international retailers after China, based on the 2016 Global Retail Development Index by AT Kearney, which cited the nation’s giant inhabitants, rising center class, brisk urbanisation and fast-rising web adoption charges.

Komal Gajjar (IMG), Ravyanshi Mehta (Anima Creative Management) and Suzanne Baker (Anima Creative Management) all sporting Gucci; Jewelry by Tribe Amrapali | Photography by R Burman for BoF

In current years, a number of main overseas fashion retailers have entered the Indian market, together with Aéropostale, Gap and Topshop. Swedish quick fashion big H&M turned the primary worldwide fashion retailer to enter India alone after the federal government authorised 100 % FDI in single-brand retail and plans to open 50 retail shops within the nation. (Dipti Sharma walked the runway for H&M’s fashion collaboration with Erdem, whereas Pooja Mor featured in its 2016 vacation marketing campaign).

Meanwhile, Zara, which entered India again in 2010, at present has 18 shops in 9 cities throughout the nation and, final month, opened a web-based retailer with a marketing campaign that includes three recent Indian faces: Nitigya Singh, Urvashi Umrao and Tuhir Brahmbhatt. Indeed, there’s proof that casting Indian models is turning into critical enterprise.

The Indian models who’re making in-roads within the fashion business are harbingers of change in India and elsewhere. They is probably not the tallest or the conventionally prettiest of models, however they worth their very own tradition and have fun their distinctive and unconventional traits, making for endearing personalities who’re a far cry from the stilted and homogenised models of the earlier era. And most significantly, they characterize the nations that may turn into the most important shoppers of tomorrow.

Bandana Tewari is the editor-at-large of Vogue India.

Ravyanshi Mehta (Anima Creative Management) wears TommyXGigi, Muji | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Urvashi Umrao (Anima Creative Management) wears Valliyan jewellery | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Tuhir Brahmbhatt (Anima Creative Management) wears Diesel | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Komal Gajjar (IMG) wears Gucci | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Suzanne Baker (Anima Creative Management) wears Gucci | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Nitigya Singh (Inega) wears Tommy Hilfiger | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Madhulika (Inega) wears shirt stylist’s personal | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Saket Sharma (Inega) wears Gucci | Photography by R Burman for BoF

Stylist: Nikhil Mansata
Hair and Makeup: Sandhya Shekar at Faze Management
Hair: Sonam Singh at Anima Creative Management
Makeup: Riviera Vaz at Anima Creative Management
Styling Assistant: Zoha Castelino

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