Till lately, India was a cotton dominant society. That was partly due to the governments policy that focussed heavily on cotton and ignored synthetic fabrics.
Vinod Kaul, executive director, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), puts things in perspective. The government policy has focussed on cotton till lately, he says, adding that however, India is opening up to accept a lot more fabrics. Globally, new fabrics and blends are introduced every season. Its more of a seasonal affair. In Western countries, you have blends of about everything under the sun, he adds.
But things are changing in India. Even though cotton is a cash crop for the country, maintaining a 100 per cent cotton fabric can be a cumbersome process at times. That is why so many cotton blends are in vogue today. Today, we are seeing cotton being blended with a lot of other cheaper blends like viscose and polyester. The objective is two-fold: one to kee
*costs in check and two to reduce fabric maintenance, explains Vijay Mathur, director, Apparel Export Promotion Council.
People are bored with 100 per cent cotton fabrics, remarks Prem Sadhwani, country manager, Tencel Ltd. That probably explains why new blends in Tencel like Tencel Wool, Tencel Cotton and Tencel Silk and linen are making their presence felt in the market.
Tencel is a cellulosic fibre from the UK-based Acordis Group. Tencel is probably the most globally recognised brand name for lyocell, a man-made fibre completely natural in origin and made from natural cellulose found in wood pulp.
The new blends offer certain advantages, too. It is seen that silk is usually worn on special occasions because it is expensive. But Tencel blended with silk, make the fabric price competitive and also improves the fabric performance, explains Mr Sadhwani. Moreover, Tencel Linen, Tencel Wool and Tencel Silk come with new finishes like natural stretch and perfect black.
When the Tencel fibre is added to cotton, it adds to its softness, strength and performance. In the case of wool, it preserves wools natural qualities and reduces its inherent prickliness.
Also, another new trend today is to have various finishes on the fabrics in the garments stage. Therefore, you have fabrics and garments that come with a water resistant and a soil resistant finish. For jeans and trousering materials too, new stuff is being offered in the form of printed fabrics and tinted fabrics.
Since the current trend is to work on finishes and washes in garment stages, fabrics and fibres that offer multiple options will find their way into wardrobes, observes Milind Hardikar, head of the denim and khaki division, Arvind Mills Ltd.
Hi-tech garments are also making their presence felt in the market. Check out Nikes Dri-FIT range of clothes that are perfect for gruelling workouts because they do not allow moisture to stay on either the apparel or your body. The range is part of Nikes Spring Summer 2003 collection.
Worldwide, Nike apparel is developed based on athletes requirements. But is this product really suitable for the Indian market Considering Indias hot weather conditions, the consumer is looking for a solution against an apparel that sticks to the body. That is why he needs something that immediately evaporates moisture, keeping the body cool and dry, point out company officials.
Nikes Dri-FIT works on the mechanism of hydrophilic and hydrophobic actions. The moisture is pushed through the fabric from the hydrophobic side and pulled out through the more hydrophilic side, thus rendering the inside of the garment dry.
Dri-FIT is part of Nikes overall FIT (Functional Innovative Technology) family of products, which also include Clima-FIT, Therma-FIT and Storm-FIT. Dri-FIT is the next to the skin layer, Therma FIT provides insulation, Clima FIT is a highly breathable and water resistant garment and Storm FIT is waterproof and breathable.
The Dri-FIT range of apparel is available at exclusive Nike stores all over the country. In addition, you can also buy these garments from multi-brand outlets like Royal Sporting House, Planet Sports and Lifestyle.
The new fabric and blend bug has bit designers, too. Check out the designs of J J Valaya, for instance. Mr Valayas Spring Summer 2003 collection has several interesting blends in silk and cotton and viscose and silk.
Mr Valaya feels that a lot of experimentation has begun to happen in the field of fabrics and blends. But Mr Valaya is cautious while working with new fabrics and blends. For instance, he makes sure that he does not go overboard while using new polyester blends. Nevertheless, he appreciates most man-made fibres because he finds them breathable.
Today, we have actually been able to create man-made fibres that can compete with a natural fibre, offers the style guru.
But Mr Kaul of FDCI says that it will take at least eight more years for synthetic fabrics and products to develop into a mature market in the country. Mr Mathur of AEPC also echoes similar sentiments and says it is important to learn from past experiences. India is a huge producer of jute. A few years ago, jute-blended fabrics (jute blended with cotton) were rejected by buyers because they found them to be too harsh.
Summer is not complete without sunglasses and umbrellas. The 2003 Spring Summer collection of sunglasses from United Colors of Benetton (UCB) is called Colors and they are extremely light in weight. The range comprises of eight different models for adults and six for children, with four colour combinations in each style. The shapes range from oval and tear drop to geometric styles such as rectangular and square as well as mask models and stylish wrap arounds.
The Colors range is available at select UCB stores around the country. Prices for the kids range vary between Rs 699 and Rs 849, and those for the adults vary between Rs 1,699 and Rs 1,799.
The Colors range presents a combination of aesthetic features and technical qualities that are designed to respond to constantly changing fashion tastes, personalities and targets, say Benetton officials.
A new addition to the portfolio is UCBs international trendsetting brand, Sisley. It is characterised by an avant garde look, and comprises of six styles, each in four colours. The shapes range from butterfly to teardrop and square shields. Sisley is available at select UCB stores across the country at a price tag of Rs 1,999-2,199.
You can also check out the Ottica stores across the country. This multi-brand outlet has a whole new range of unisex sunglasses. You could choose from Prada, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Harley Davidson, Christian Dior, Gucci and Max Mara. Most of these glasses are imported from Italy. There are around 50-100 pieces in each brand and some of these glasses come with green frames and pull white reflectors and graded tints. Moreover, all these glasses are ultra violet (UV) coated and protected. If you are a late night bird, then choose glasses that come with sodium lenses. The glasses, especially those with pull white reflectors, are trendy and popular with the our customers, says a sales manager at the Ottica store at 3Cs, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi.
Department store major Ebony also has an interesting range of sunglasses on display. You could choose from the Polaroid, Miami Blues and Figartti range of sunglasses. These are priced upwards of Rs 395 and all the glasses are 100 per cent UV protected. The glasses come in attractive square shapes and half rims, in shades of blue, green, lilac, pink, brown and orange.
We all know that irreversible damage from the sun is due to the combined action of the UVB and UVA rays of the sun. Wide protection against a whole range of UV rays, therefore, becomes necessary.
Vichy Laboratoires has introduced a new sun protection range called Capital Soleil. The Capital Soleil Spray with a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) 30/UVA 16 comes with a Mexoryl XL filter (a new patented sun filter). The Capital Soleil Cream comes with a SPF 45/UVA15, while the Capital Soleil Milk for sensitive skin comes with a SPF 60/UVA16. These three variants are designed for daily protection from the sun. Priced at Rs 490-790 for 50-125ml, the product is available at Lifespring stores and other outlets across the country.
Meanwhile, Oriflame has launched a range of talcs for the summer. The fragranced body talc (Rs 39 for 100 gms) is available in four fragrances floral, mystique, paradise and romantic talc. Another addition to this stable is Volare talc which essentially is a rich floral fragrance of Volare and is available for Rs 59 for 100 gms.
The menfolk can choose from the energy sport talc (Rs 39 for 100 gms), rebel talc (Rs 39 for 100 gms), which has a high powdered combination of citrus, herbal, wood and leather notes.
Kids are not left behind. Oriflame has launched the Gentle Baby Talc for the kids. Its a microbiologically controlled mild powder that protects the body and keeps the baby cool, dry and comfortable. This talc is priced at Rs 49 for 80 gms.
The new deodorants include De Marco for Men (75 ml for Rs 99), Rebel Antiperspirant Deodorant Roll On (50 ml for Rs 129), Glacier Body Spray (75 ml for Rs 129) and the Volare Body Spray (75 ml for Rs 99).
The sunscreen range includes the sun care cream SPF 20 which is available for Rs 259 for a 50 ml pack. The UV Protective Day Cream, a moisturising cream with a sun protection factor is suitable for all skin types and protects the skin from the damaging UV rays of the sun. This is priced at Rs 139 for a 50 ml pack. The Natural Northern Light on the other hand is a moisturising fairness cream with SPF 20 that provides a high UV protection and which in combination of natural rice extract helps the skin to maintain a fairer complexion. This is priced at Rs 279 for a 50 ml pack.
Avon on the other hand has launched the Avon Essentials Sunscreen Lotion. The lotion has sun shield with UV filters. The 75 ml bottle is priced at Rs 125.
Amway India also launched the Artistry Basic Skin Care Systems sometime back. The Artistry range is a technologically advanced series of high performance products which come with exclusive ingredients that prevent environmental damage to the skin and help restore the skins natural moisture. The Artistry basic skin care system comprises of a cleanser, toner and moisturiser. The cleansers and toners are priced at Rs 999 while the moisturiser is priced at Rs 1,199.
Rain Wear & Umbrellas
If summer is here, the monsoon cannot be far behind, even if it doesnt feel that way right now. Pick up some trendy rainwear from Westside stores across the country. The windcheaters for women are made of waterproof Taslon and come in colours like bright turquoise and black. Men can choose jackets or windcheaters in nylon in grey and black. Rainwear for kids comprises of Taslon windcheaters in bright colours like red, black and yellow.
The adults rainwear is priced between Rs 699 and Rs 799, and that for the kids, upwards of Rs 499.
You can also pick up basic black umbrellas from Westside. Ebony stocks a range of umbrellas, too. These have been imported from China and are golden and silver in colour. Some of the umbrellas also have floral motifs and cartoon characters on them. They are priced upwards of Rs 200.