Jasleen Kaur Gupta
(Photograph courtesy of
Although fashion bloggers and personal stylists are already common in many parts of the world, they have only gained traction in India in the past two to three years. Where there was once a dearth of information, an increasing number of fashion blogs and stylists mean that there is advice on-hand for a general public that is more aware than ever of fashion trends from around the world.
Mumbai's fashion bloggers are stepping in to explain how a new world of global (and local) trends can be customised for Mumbaians. Two friends, Payal Parija and Priyanka Prasad, have an eye for spotting international brands on Indian celebrities and, with a fair bit of tongue-in-cheek, write about what works and what doesn't in their popular blog, High Heel Confidential. Additionally, as more and more women in Mumbai are entering corporate jobs, many of them are turning to bloggers who are providing tips on what is fashionable, yet appropriate for work. It's a fairly new concept for Indians, but fashion blogging is catering to the needs of the hour and, in the process, is fast gaining a foothold (and loyal following) in Mumbai and throughout India.
As Mumbai's fashion world begins to blossom, every day sees a new person joining the fashion blogging landscape. Sakshi Singh, a 28-year-old fashion blogger from Mumbai, was met with culture shock when, after getting married, moved from the suburbs to the more "happening" southern part of the city. For Sakshi, her blog, Girlyhour, is her way of keeping in touch with her friends. "I was feeling a bit disconnected from my girl gang," she says. Her experience speaks volumes about fashion in Mumbai. Dynamic as the city is, styles greatly vary depending on the part of the city one is in.
With fashion bloggers entering the scene everyday, it's becoming more difficult for any one of them to stand out. But this doesn't seem to matter to many bloggers. "I believe everyone stands out in their own way. Blogging is a creative field; there's always so much happening, and when your blog is an expression of your personal style, there's only scope for appreciation - not competition," says Simin Lakhani, a 22-year-old Mumbai fashion blogger-cum-stylist-cum-designer.
While some like Sakshi are happy to blog as a hobby, others like Simin are making a profession out of fashion. What started out as a personal fashion journal went on to become a blog, Vivacious In Vogue, and from there, an online store, in just over a year's time. In Mumbai, there's evidence of an organic progression from fashion blogging to personal styling and, in cases such as Simin's, even designing. Most people wish to make a living doing what they love, and for many fashion bloggers, that dream is realised through styling and/or designing. "I'm overjoyed with the kind of response I've been getting from across India. My next step, to hold exhibitions of my creations, has been welcomed as well."
Sonu Bohra, 25, and Jasleen Kaur Gupta, 28, are also among the lucky lot that make a living through styling. They're bloggers (Fashion Bombay), but they also style for advertisements and other events, taking their hobby to a profesional level. "You usually need to have a sense of style, understand the concept and be willing to work hard. The job may seem colourful and glamorous but in reality, it's a lot of hard work. In India, unfortunately, there aren't many options to study styling, although slowly that too is changing. But like all jobs, the experience gathered on the field is very different from the theory studied in school." Simin agrees and goes one step further: "A degree in fashion is absolutely unnecessary. When you don't study it, you are easily way more creative towards it."
|Silk Boho Peacock Printed Maxi Dress
from Simin's Collection (Photograph
courtesy of Vivacious in Vogue).
Simin illustrates a typical styling gig using one of her clients as an example, a pretty, young woman named Sarah Syed. "I did a wardrobe consultation with [Sarah] and we decided upon a couple of different looks that would work for her, ranging from 'casual chic' to 'artsy'. Because Sarah is an avid guitarist, we worked out an 'edgy rocker girl' look for her as well. Her budget was between 4,000 to 5,000 rupees (CAD$80-100) and we shopped for three to four different looks that complemented her personality and preferences." Some of the stores in Mumbai Simin frequently visits for her clients are Memore, Besos and Love From India and her brands of choice include Attic, Promod, Mango and Zara.
But, does fashion blogging or personal styling pay in India? As far as bloggers are concerned, the revenue streams are limited, the most common being advertising on blogs which, in turn, depends on traffic. From what stylists have to say, though, their work does pay. Simin offers two kinds of packages: the first is a personal styling experience, which includes a consultation meeting to discuss the basics. "Based on the body type and preferences, I offer tips on the various looks, styles, colours and cuts one should opt for along with complementary accessories for the different looks," she explains. The cost for an hour-long session is 1,900 rupees (CAD$38). For the second package, along with the consultation session, Simin offers a four-hour shopping session (which is done the next day) to achieve the desired looks and costs 5,000 rupees (CAD$100).
Sonu Bohra (Photograph
courtesy of Fashion Bombay).
As far as professional styling for advertisement and magazine shoots, the clients can afford to pay. For Sonu and Jasleen, the cost differs "depending on the number of shots, changes, concept and props," they say. But the moment one thinks of personal styling, the image of Hollywood (or closer home, Bollywood) stars and their stylists come to mind. And on the back of such imagery comes the thought that hiring a personal stylist would be very expensive, something the common (wo)man cannot afford. While that may really be the case in some instances, Sonu and Jasleen justify the expense, "Since we are in the industry, we are aware of the best bargains, deals and sales which one might otherwise miss." But there has to be some benchmarks for budgets below which the stylists cannot provide their services. "Otherwise, it's not a lucrative venture for us," say the duo.
Every business has its own set of ups and downs, and styling is no different. "I love what I'm doing, so there aren't difficulties - just challenges to overcome; primarily, maintaining standards of quality," says an optimistic Simin. "Initially, you may not be able to run your homes with it. But for us, our blog opened up many avenues. We supply fashion content to websites and magazines, handle social media and do many offline events with brands. So be prepared for the bumps, but it's a sweet journey," sign off Sonu and Jasleen.
As fashion-conscious Indians continue to be inspired by international trends, combined with their growing disposable incomes, fashion blogging and personal styling are here to stay.
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