Chic News: Junglee is here, brings limited fashion choices

Amazon.com’s Junglee is here! I was quite excited to know Amazon.com had finally made a foray into India so I’ve spent good amount of time over the past few days on the website.

junglee-logo

Junglee.com’s got over 1.2 crore products to choose from with over 14,000 brands selling books to electronics to clothes to garden furniture. But of course, I’m more interested in the fashion. 🙂

Brands, brands, brands

On the fashion front at Junglee, there’s not-so-good news- the fashion choices on the website are still limited.

Junglee-clothing

While there are quite a few big fashion and accessories brands on their seller list, Junglee still has a long way to go to make a mark. Especially if you compare it with amazon.com and amazon.co.uk’s brands- they’ve got some really cool brands like Mango, Desigual, Diesel, Gas and Esprit, among others.

Currently, the fashion (clothes and accessories) brands on Junglee.com include Label by Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul, Fab India, Hidesign, Gitanjali, Bata, Puma and a handful of others.

Facing the fashion competition

Junglee will have to face competition from the fashion and flash sales websites that have been around for a while (Fashion and You, 99 Labels, Myntra) along with the more recent launches (Freecultr, BeStylish.com).

I would love to see Junglee’s fashion section acquire a strong local flavour with focus on Indian brands and designers like Latin Quarters, Wills Lifestyle, Metro, AND, Seven East… you get the drift. Junglee could even seek to carve out a niche in this area as a supporter and an online store for several Indian brands.

Some cool international brands would be fun too! It would be good to see top brands on Amazon during the season throughout the year, instead of just seeing old maal on flash sales sites.

In terms of user experience, the website is easy to navigate, clutter-free and has a good range of filters—like price, colours, sellers and brand.

Junglee-clothing-filters

Waiting to grow

Of course, it’s still the early stages for the site and for Amazon in India (someone told me Amazon has big plans for India and Junglee is only a beachhead for them). I assume the folks at Junglee will be working hard to expand their fashion brand base… fingers crossed!

What do you think of Junglee.com?

Chic Report: Know Your Sarees workshop at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Chic Report: Know Your Sarees workshop at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

Some say the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is by taking a nap after a satisfying meal (I agree!). But I spent yesterday afternoon much more fruitfully at a workshop at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai—Know your Sarees (I prefer saris).

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Conducted by Bela Shanghavi, it was an intense and engrossing discussion-cum-interaction on understanding saris better—how they are made, the technology used, the skills of the weaver and what to look for when buying one. Bela had brought along several saris as examples which helped me understand her points a lot better.

Starting from the basics (the warp and the weft), Bela began her explanation of saris with a brief on the various stages in the making of a typical Indian sari- yarn, pre-loom, on loom and post-loom. Then she delved into each stage, explaining what kind of saris and fabrics were made through work done during that stage. For instance, at the yarn stage, certain design elements like colours and textures can be introduced.

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Some interesting things I learnt at the workshop:

  • Brocades like jamewars, Banarsis, pacholi, kanjeevaram and Balucharis are created in the “on loom” stage.
  • The weavers require a high degree of precision to make saris that have a “corner” and a border.
  • Printing, tinting, dyeing, embroidery, bandhini, hand painting happens in the post-loom stage.
  • While each region has its own type of sari-making technique, boundaries are now getting blurred.
  • A region or state’s culture and natural landscape has defined its fabrics, saris (and therefore fashion sensibilities). For instance, Rajasthan with its desert landscape is rich in coloured fabrics and garments. But in Bengal, the colours of choice are typically a simple white and red.
  • You can mix various textile technologies for a fabulously modern sari!
  • Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi
  • Even local mannerisms, etiquette and culture reflects in the textile language of the region. For instance, Gujarati fabrics have “plump” paisleys (they talk loud and to the point), while Kashmirs paisleys are delicate and complex (they communicate their point in a roundabout manner).
  • Saris and fabrics can be therapeutic! Our ancient Indian customs of wearing clothes with certain natural dyes and fabrics has a very scientific basis to it. For instance, the natural indigo dye repels bacteria and certain diseases, while vermilion boosts blood circulation.
  • The fabrics you see the royals wearing in Mughal paintings are not brocades but “ashawar”, which differs from brocade in the fall and feel.
  • Sari making is akin to the idea of the pixels on a computer screen, and Indian artisans and weavers understood this concept Indians as early as the third century!
  • With shifting boundaries you can now get a Paithani sari made in Benares (really!), and a Kanjeevaram with north Indian motifs.

Other than this, I learnt about the concept of “repeats” in a sari, the beauty and cultural significance of the Patola sari and how to identify certain types of saris such as jamewars.

Kala Ghoda sari workshop with Bela Shanghavi

Bela’s discussion was interspersed with several historical and geographical references which have shaped our sari tradition today. I’m already curious to know more about Indian fabrics, textiles and hope to explore our culture deeper.

I came back enlightened this Sunday afternoon, with some useful and interesting insights into Indian fashion! Now how many can say that about a Sunday? 🙂

Announcing the Chic Cleanup Project

Announcing the Chic Cleanup Project

I have an embarrassing confession to make—I have too many clothes. And too many bags and shoes and jewellery.

From pants to night wear, I have them all. But most of all, I have a tonne of casual clothes accumulated over the years. Some chic things I bought during my trip to Spain last year (bags, belts, makeup):

Sometime last year, I told myself I couldn’t really buy any new clothes because I had no space for them on my cupboard. So shopping became an issue. I came back empty-handed from almost every trip to the mall. I’m not really a shopaholic and I don’t buy on impulse, so that didn’t bother me much. But I wanted the cute skirt and the feminine blouse once in a while. And most importantly, I wanted to be up-to-date.

How can fashionista be dress trendy if I have don’t have new clothes to experiment with?

So late 2011, I decided it was time for drastic measures. I had to change my approach to my wardrobe, my shopping, my fashion, my style, and life in general. And the bottomline was:

I needed to get rid of my old clothes and my old life.

And so the cleanup began. I have taken a pledge that’s something like:

  • I will purge my wardrobe of all the “bad” and unnecessary clothes
  • I will adopt a minimal approach to fashion, styling and my life.
  • I will complete this by June 30, 2012.

While typing this, I feel that this does seem a bit self-absorbed – doing a cleanup because I want to be trendy. But it’s now become more than that. It’s about freeing myself from the mess I see everyday and freeing my mind from the “too much” in my life.

Call it declutter, call it taking the Zen approach, call it what you will. It’s ultimately a thorough cleanse of my life and I’m determined to achieve it.

So here’s what I will be doing in the next few months:

  • Throwing or giving away clothes I don’t want or need
  • Shop as less as possible (been kinda successful with this so far)
  • Discovering what and how much I really need in my wardrobe (do I really need 15 tshirts, for instance?)
  • Adopting a “system” to make my life clutter-free and minimalistic
  • Blogging about my experiences and findings!

All I ask, dear readers, is encouragement, support and your tips.

Let the chic (and crazy) cleanup begin!

Chic Beauty List: Products that took me through winter (from Kiehl’s, Lakme and Nivea)

Chic Beauty List: Products that took me through winter (from Kiehl’s, Lakme and Nivea)

I don’t usually blog about skin care/ beauty products, so this post means I’ve got something substantial and special to write about. 🙂 This winter has been a harsh one for my skin. Mid-December I travelled through some of the coldest places in north India—Delhi, Mussoorie, Rishikesh and Haridwar. Then I came back to Mumbai where it got quite cold and stayed that cold for about a month.

My skin is already on the drier side, so this winter I was geared up for the worst. I tried a number of products and luckily found the right skin care mix for myself pretty quickly. Here goes my list.

Face: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate

The product literature dubs this product an “elixir”, and it claims to give you a smoother, more radiant complexion the next morning. Well, that didn’t really happen the next morning, but it did happen couple days later. The colourless serum with a hint of lavender moisturised my skin well, and did a superb job of giving me softer and supple skin. In short, I absolutely LOVED this Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate! I will continue to use it even in summer (it doesn’t make the skin oily).

Rating: 4.5/5

Body: Lakme Fruit Moisture Honey & Avocado Winter Care Lotion

Lakme Honey & Avocado winter care lotion

Unlike other Lakme skin care products, the fragrance is strong but not overpowering. The Honey and Avocado lotion did a great job of keeping my skin moisturised throughout the day, though on some days I needed a re-application by night. Even so, I enjoyed using this lotion and the proof lies in the almost-empty bottle. 🙂

Rating: 3.5/5

Body: Nivea Happy Time Body Lotion

Nivea Happy Time Body Lotion

The trusted Nivea’s relatively new product “repairs dryness” and gives a “feel-good sensation”. Does it live up to its two major claims? Yep. Besides, the mild orange flower fragrance is lovely and I find my skin soft and moisturised even 12 hours after application. I could have done with a larger bottle of the product!

Rating: 4/5

Note: These products were provided by the brands’ PR agencies for consideration. But this post is based entirely on my experience with the products.

Chic February Guide: What to do, where to shop, what to buy this month

Chic February Guide: What to do, where to shop, what to buy this month

It’s February already! And while it’s time to take stock of broken resolutions, it’s also time to figure out your fashion agenda of the month. Here’s my guide to being chic this month.

Buy Valentine’s gifts: Fragrances

It’s the month of romance so it’s the right time to buy some chic gifts for your special someone and close friends. Give your guy the newest launch from the Giorgio Armani perfume stable—Code Sport. The fragrance is a woody aromatic citrus and an explosion of freshness on a base of torrid sensuality. I know why the ladies will love this one. 😉

Armani Code Sport

Guys looking for a special fragrance for their special gal could try Ralph Lauren Romance Valentine’s Day 2012 Limited Edition, a fresh sparkling floral. The pink-silver carton enveloped with delicate metal-grey entwining flora and vines would make her swoon. 🙂

Ralph Lauren Romance perfume

Buy Valentine’s gifts: Gizmo

The Diesel Noise Division’s VEKTR headphones are the perfect gift for a fashionable music lover (or a musical fashionista). These headphones fuse Monster’s secret experimental audio savvy with Diesel’s iconoclastic design.

Diesel headphones

The gizmo has a sharp and faceted look and translates Diesel’s obsession for innovation and details: head of the Mohican inside the cushion and on the metal piece, contrasting colour, and clash of different finishing outside-inside (shiny and matt). Even the cable is designed not to tangle. Can’t wait to hear music on this one!

Shop at: Ensemble

Ensemble’s end-of-season sale kicks off today, and if I was in the mood for designer wear that’s where I’d be headed. (I shopped at their Lion Gate store during the sale last year). Running up to February 4, you can get up to 70% off on outfits from designers like Savio Jon, Tarun Tahiliani, Anamika Khanna, Gaurav Gupta, Gauri & Nainika, James Ferreira (picture below) and many more.

Ensemble Sale- James Ferreira

Attend: ‘Demystifying the Drape’ workshop

At Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, fashion designer Shaina N.C. will shed light on the different ways the sari can be re-vamped. The workshop is meant for those who wear saris regularly and those who don’t. I’m hoping I can make it to this workshop.

The workshop is on February 6, 2012 from 2 to 3.30 pm at Artisan’s Centre, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai.

Look forward to: Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week

FDCI & CEL AW 12 logoFDCI’s Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 kicks off February 15 in New Delhi, and it’s going to be the fashion event of the month. Designer duo Shantanu-Nikhil will open the season and pave the way for over 130 designers to showcase their collection. WLIFW A/W 2012 promises to bring awesome fashion and fresh trends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to this month?

Chic Read: 7 things I learnt at India Kids Fashion Week

Chic Read: 7 things I learnt at India Kids Fashion Week

“A fashion week for kids—really?” That’s how I reacted when I first heard about the event. Was that really supposed to be a serious fashion industry event? I mean, really!? Would anyone take it seriously? Why a fashion week for kids? Wasn’t that kind of too eager, a “bit too much”?

There was only one way to find out, by checking it out myself. So last week I decided to attend a few shows at India Kids Fashion Week in suburban Mumbai.

Shruti Seth at India Kids Fashion Week

One: Indian designers are warming up to kidswear

The designer line-up at India Kids Fashion Week was somewhat impressive. There were some big names on the schedule- Rocky S, Nishka Lulla, Payal Singhal and Mineral by Priyadarshini Rao, among others. So this was an event that at least some designers were taking seriously, which was a good sign. But there were also names I hadn’t heard of, but that’s not always a bad thing. There were also some non-fashion brands like Hotwheels who participated.

To be fair to the organisers (Craftworld Events), kidswear is quite a big deal internationally. Most large fashion houses, from high street to high fashion, have a separate line for kids- Gap, Zara, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Ralph Lauren… you get the drift. So why should the Indian designers be left behind?

Two: Fashion choices for kids have grown recently

Besides the brands you see in the mall (such as Gini & Jony and Lilliput) and some others, there wasn’t too much happening in the Indian kidswear space. There were a few new entrants in the past three to four years, like Tommy Hilfiger and Zara (both with kidswear).

But even so, most clothes for children, such as jeans, tees, frocks, were mostly found in department stores (like Westside or Central). There was also Kidology which launched in 2010, that retails high quality fashion ready-to-wear kids’ and maternity clothing.

Kidology at India Kids Fashion Week

I met Neha Sachar Mittal of Kidology, who spoke about the boom in the kidswear market in India (over 20% in the past decade) and the need for clothes specifically meant for Indian kids (like for weddings and other occasions).

Three: What India Kids fashion week is really about

Simply put, India Kids Fashion Week is an event to sell clothes, accessories and even toys for kids. It’s not really an event for kids per se, though kids do participate as models and designers (designer Prachi Badve is 13 years old).

India Kids Fashion Week-Kidology

The event is for the industry—so that designers get a potential new market, and customers (parents/ kids), buyers (such as department and multi-brand stores) get good clothes for kids to get new customers and higher sales. So it’s like any other fashion week, but with a very specific focus.

Four: It was a fun event for and by the kids

I saw dozens of kids walking the ramp at India Kids Fashion Week. In the shows that I attended, I was glad that none of them were sexualised or objectified in any way. Their clothes were mostly stylish, and they had applied some makeup.

India Kids Fashion Week-OMG show

The PR girl Akshatha explained that the makeup was safe and edible because kids like to put everything in their mouth. Each kid did only one show, and there was a doctor on call as well. During the model auditions, the focus was on the kids’ confidence more than anything else. Whether this translates into kids aspiring to be models is a question mark, but I do know that the kids who walked the ramp got professional training and gained confidence like in no other way.

And what could be more kid-friendly than the presence of our favourite ogre Shrek? (He walked the ramp for Zoop by Titan and both grown-ups and kids went crazy!).India Kids Fashion Week- Shrek

Five: There are some awesome fashion options for kids

Some of the designers came up with fabulous clothes for kids. Rocky S created a black-and-white-themed collection for them, and the Kidology show with clothes by X, Y and Z was a real treat to watch. Seeing the cute hats, accessories and vibrant prints for girls, I wished I was a kid again. 😉

India Kids Fashion Week India Kids Fashion Week

Six: Kids get to choose!

Also, let’s not forget that Indian kids, especially in the metros and larger towns influence purchase decisions to a large extent. There were several kids watching the shows at fashion week, and they may form opinions on what they like and what they don’t, so they could end up playing a slightly greater role in what they wear.

Seven: It may be too early to talk about the business impact

For a first-time event of such scale, India Kids Fashion Week generated decent amount of interest in the local and national media. This was partly to do with the handful of well-known names on the ramp, such as Sushmita Sen.

Success will largely depend on the buyer-designer interactions and sales (Shoppers Stop was one of the buyers at the event), uptake of sponsors in the next season and public and media interest. It’s too early to say what will happen the next season, but one key takeaway from the event is that small can be big. Perhaps bigger than expected.

Street Chic: Which car colour would you wear?

Street Chic: Which car colour would you wear?

In a fashion blog, there’s no chance for car talk. But since I love cars, I thought I’d share my love for them with a fashion twist and share them with Speaking Chic readers. Over the past year or so, I’ve spotted a lot of colour on Indian roads—from deep orange to dark blue to various hues of green. Some look great, some are urgh, and some are just wow. My question is—would you wear any of these colours?

So here are some cars in unusual colours I spotted on Mumbai roads recently. Take a look and tell me which colours are wearable and which ones are just too horrible to look at.

Weird green on Mahindra Xylo:

green-xylo

If there’s one colour weirder than mud green, it’s got to be this one. This green is somewhere between a pastel and a fluorescent, it looks terrible on the car, and would look worse on me!

Two shades of brown in a single look—yeah or no way? (For me—no way, Jose!)

brown-car

Shiny black all over—great look for the night. (And I’m coveting the Merc too!)

black-Merc

Red cars are popular in India, and most Indian women wear red as a symbol of marriage. But what about maroon? I think a maroon lehenga or sari would look gorgeous on an Indian bride.

swift-maroon

Unusual bright colours have made a recent appearance on Indian cars. The green Ford Figo has become popular (they call the colour squeeze), and so has the sunlight orange Nissan Micra (endorsed by Ranbir Kapoor).

 Micra-sunlight-orange

Both cars are spunky, and bring a tinge of freshness to Indian roads. What’s more, both colours would be just right for an Indian woman’s spring/summer wardrobe, but she would need a very strong personality and careful styling to carry them off.

Art on cars: Would you sport an Ed Hardy tattoo? Or something similar? I’d never get a tattoo, period!

 

So which car colour would you wear?

Fashion News: Double bumper for kids’ fashion, Rohit Bal to close LFW S/R 2012, WIFW may be early this year

Fashion News: Double bumper for kids’ fashion, Rohit Bal to close LFW S/R 2012, WIFW may be early this year

It’s turning out to be a bumper year for kids’ fashion already. Indian kids are going to be spoilt for choice with a new brand and… a fashion week just for them!

Just for Kids

Just for Kids is a new Indian brand with international fashion for kids at local prices. The stores stock tunics, tops, skirts, capris, jumpsuits, track pants, dresses, shoes and accessories for kids up to the age of 12 years. The look is fresh with plenty of reds, pinks, greens , purple balanced with denim blues, grey , mustard, military green , white, navy and pastels for infants.

cool nightdress for  cooler nights from JFK (Just For Kids)

stripped and printed tee from Just For Kids- Rs.449

Just for Kids is at Phoenix Market City, Kurla and Atria Mall, Worli, Mumbai.

The first fashion week for kids?

Meanwhile, kids and moms have got yet another reason to “celebrate” fashion, because this month Mumbai will host India Kids Fashion Week (IKFW). Well-known children’s brands and designers will participate in IKFW, including Rocky S, Narendra Kumar, Nishka Lulla, Malini Ramani, Barbie, Kidology, Little Kangaroos, Just for Kids, Mineral and Coochie Coo.

As far as I know, this is the first such fashion week in India. While my initial reaction was one of scepticism, I’ve quickly come to realise the event is more for the parents than the kids. 😉

India Kids Fashion Week will run from January 17-19, 2012.

WIFW A/W 2012 to kick off Feb 15

Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week is expected to be held earlier this season, perhaps in line with the international fashion week schedule. WIFW A/W 2012 was announced to be tentatively held February 15 onward, while WIFW A/W 2011 was in April last year.

If this date is confirmed, it will mark a notable departure from the previous years’ schedules. The move to advance the fashion week by almost eight weeks may be to do with the schedules of international buyers. It will be interesting to gauge the impact of this new schedule on the business during fashion week.

Rohit Bal is LFW S/R 2012 grand finale designer

Lakme Fashion Week has pulled off another fashion coup this season, with Delhi designer Rohit Bal closing the event at the grand finale at LFW S/R 2012. Last season, Rohit Bal had showcased his collection in an off-site show at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2011.

Rohit Bal with Arjun Rampal at LFW W/F 2011

Known for his uninhibited creativity, I’m hoping Rohit Bal will amaze us fashionistas this season as well. And oh, we’re not sure why Rohit Bal moved to the Mumbai-based fashion week, but we like it! 🙂

Lakme Fashion Week Summer/ Resort 2012 will be held March 1-6, 2012.

Fashion wishlist for 2012

Fashion wishlist for 2012

Happy New Year, readers! To kick off the year, here’s my wishlist for fashion in 2012.

Less brocade, no fur

Indian fashion has been taken over by brocade over the past couple years and it’s the mots ubiquitous fabric at weddings, sangeets, and the like. Meanwhile, despite PETA’s efforts and greater environmental consciousness, fur was everywhere on the international ramp and red carpet. We’d like to see less of both, please.

Below: Looks from Shyamal &Bhumika and Neeta Lulla, both at LFW W/F 2011

Shyamal & Bhumika brocade- LFW W/F 2011 brocade-Neeta Lulla at LFW W/F 2011

Young Indian women dressing as individuals, not clones

Enter a mall, beauty salon or a multiplex in any city in India, and you will spot Indian girls dressed in a uniform: skinny jeans, tshirt, open flat shoes and long straight hair. With new brands, international magazines and the amazing Internet, I’d been hoping for fashion to be more individualistic. But that didn’t happen last year, so maybe we’ll see a transformation this year. Do we really want a society of clones—people who look and think alike?

More quality fashion weeks, please!

In the battle of the fashion weeks in India (too numerous to name here), what we see are lists and lists of designers. But what we see on the ramp is often repetitive, mediocre or even amateurish. I’d like fashion boards to separate the wheat from the chaff and give us something that amazes, shocks and excites us. And if all they get is what we see on the ramp, then sadly the industry needs to rethink how it recognises and nurtures talent.

And my personal wishlist…

De-clutter and go minimal

I have too many clothes and not enough space, which makes it all the more difficult to buy new pieces every season. De-cluttering is not an option for me anymore, it’s a necessity!

Help others make the right fashion choice

I helped a couple friends select the right outfits, accessories and even complete looks. Now I’d love to help some more. 🙂

And umm… blog more often 🙂

‘Nuff said!

What are your fashion wishes for 2012?