When it comes to fashion, the capital is known for making lasting style statements and is considered to be one of the flourishing fashion hubs in India. Similarly, street fashion has been making its impact tremendously. Over the years, it has become the face of recent trends in fashion with cheaper and affordable rates. It is inspired from daily household styles to recent innovations of top brands. The fashion is about how casually or flamboyantly one dresses up in college or how smartly and stylishly one can present oneself in the office meetings.
My curiosity and love for street shopping took me to popular street markets in Delhi — Sarojini market in South, Janpath in Central and the famous Kamal Nagar market in North. All of these well known markets not only offers clothes but also gives huge options for ornaments, junk jewelleries, decorative materials, home-decor and many more. They provide a wide range of options for shopping depending on one’s budget.
I began with Kamla Nagar Market which has its own charm and is frequented by many a student of Delhi University from nearby colleges. It is one of the busiest markets and is quite popular among the youth. Amid all chaos and rush at the shop, I tried talking to the owner Rajesh Kumar whose summer wear remain a popular craze. After reasoning with few young girls who were bargaining with him, Kumar said, “It’s been more than a decade and my shop is still as popular as it was 10 years ago. We sell the clothes which are cheap yet the quality is there. Most customers don’t have to compromise with style and quality.”
I moved on to another vendor named Sunil Kumar who has been in the business for quite a long time. According to him, what attracts youth is the location. “When I thought of starting my business,” he said, “I wanted a place where I could get maximum profit and visibility. And I think, Kamla Nagar served this purpose. It’s always crowded with customers.”
Next up, I interacted with some of the college students. A student of Delhi University, Ananya who regularly visits the market with her friends said, “I just love this market not because I like shopping here but it has a lot more to offer.” According to another student, Prakriti, “Kamla Nagar is not necessarily about clothes; one can always get elegant accessories here. I am coming here, ever since I came to Delhi for my studies. I like to buy earrings from here as they don’t look cheap. They go along nicely with my branded clothes.”
After exploring North campus, I moved on to my next destination, Janpath which is one of the famous markets of Delhi, where both girls and boys like to shop. To my utter dismay, it was Saturday— Janpath was crowded as usual. A busy market during weekends: voices from shops, cries of vendors selling everything from clothes, shoes, sunglasses make up the atmosphere of the place. One has to be street smart to get their best bargains here. Apart from bright gowns, skirts, shirts, accessories and other stuff sold in makeshift shops, one can always rely on the market for its street food.
“Janpath is mainly for girls. Customers like to come here because the stuff here is affordable. The thing that you get for Rs 1500 at other places like a mall or a showroom can be bought here for Rs 500. The same designs too. But to be honest, we also have defective pieces.”
It was not easy to get the shopkeepers to talk as they all were busy with their customers. Finally, I got shopkeeper, Vijay talking who has been in the business for more than 12 years and sells mostly clothes for girls. “Janpath is mainly for girls. Customers like to come here because the stuff here is affordable. The thing that you get for Rs 1500 at other places like a mall or a showroom can be bought here for Rs 500. The same designs too. But to be honest, we also have defective pieces.”
Another vendor, Atif said, “We have all kinds of trendy clothes. Be it plazo, gowns, long kurtas, dresses, harem pants or denim jeans. We can provide you with the best one. Also, we have our own karigars and local designers for our range.”
Sarojini Nagar Market, which offers somewhat same options for shopping as Janpath. But the market is bigger in area as compared to Janpath. One can find vendors from Rajasthan to Manipur providing large varieties. They sell their exclusive products, everything from clothes to different kitchen products. Not only this, Sarojini Market has even made its way into popular Bollywood songs.
Street shopping has not only attracted youth but has also attracted fashion designers and jewellery designers. According to Jaya Bhatt and Ruchi Tripathi of Indigene, street style is also "trickle up" fashion and exists not just in Delhi but all large urban cities. “It’s about a combining looks, bringing the contemporary and traditional together. These are the looks that are actually in trend and inspire a lot of designers to incorporate these elements in their collections,” said Jaya.
“There is a street fashion and then there is a refined street fashion, completely depending upon a person's affordability and how much one can spend. A person who can afford a refined street fashion will probably put together "designer" clothing and accessories together, but someone with a smaller wallet will go for what might be a cheaper option, nevertheless, there are no rules in street fashion, it’s a very personal style,” said Ruchi.
Another designer Jyoti Sachdev Iyer on street fashion, said: “It's a great way to spread different trends and create social platforms for people to express their sense of style. But I don't think it affects our business. They're both different aspects of designs. Street fashion is a lot faster and easier where as designer fashion isn't necessarily for everyday wear and it’s seasonal. It's not competition but it's just a parallel aspect of fashion.”
In the same context, jewellery designer, Tanya Rastogi, Director of Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers said, “I like street fashion for the numerous colours and trends it has to offer. However, it’s other way round, the popularity of particular design trend influences and gets reflected in the street fashion. It doesn't affect our market as our target audience is very different. The woman who purchases a jewel of Awadh from me does so because she is a true connoisseur of jewellery and it’s not the cost of the piece that influences her decision.”
Thus, street fashion finds an important place in fashion industry today. I wait for the day, when we would have street style fashion weeks as New York recently had one to promote local designers.