Till a few years ago, Kolkata was not seen as a fashion conscious city. Except for the city women, who always had an eye for gorgeous sarees, Kolkata didn’t put a premium on looking good.
Not any longer.
A major factor which made the Kolkatans far more fashion conscious is the spread of shopping malls in many corners of the city. Today many international fashion brands like Dior, Versace, DKNY, Gucci, Canali, Vero Moda and our desi AND, BIBA etc. are present in the malls. The effect on the residents has been transformational as these Kolkatans became much more aware of fashion trends and adopt the idea that looking good can make you feel good.
We are living in an age where making a social and workplace impression is considered very important. This changed societal attitude has considerably transformed the fashion industry. This has had an inevitable change on the manner in which fashion is advertised and marketed to the end users. While most fashion brands rely heavily on aggressive media campaigning to catch the eye of the masses, some would argue that finding a nice corner at a popular shopping mall would also serve the purpose. After all, isn’t window shopping among the favorite pastimes of the modern generation?
Shopping Malls – Creating a Paradigm Shift in the World of Fashion
The bustling metropolis of Kolkata is a striking example of how the spurt in the number of shopping malls within the city has impacted the fashion sense of its residents. A city that has always been well known for its adherence to cultural and traditional values also did well to stick to the traditional style as far as the fashion world was concerned. Local markets such as the New Market or Hogg Market in Esplanade and the Gariahat Market in South Kolkata were the most sought-after destinations when it came to shopping for clothes, whatever be the occasion. Small-time garments traders and businessmen were the kings of the fashion scene in the city. Though there were a few Pantaloons and Shoppers Stop outlets in the city, it was something reserved for the social “elitists.”
There was a time when the citizens of Kolkata were happy with spending the bare minimum on garments and hardly any importance was given to brands. In fact, it was not too long ago when families would make a beeline for tailoring units to get new clothes made for themselves. But this is not so with the present generation! Today, the brand takes precedence above anything else, even if that means shelling out a little extra for comfort, convenience, and the feel good factor. Also, the fact that popular apparel outlets in the shopping malls around Kolkata provide the latest products trending in global fashion attract youngsters to these places like a fish taking to water. You also cannot ignore the financial freedom enjoyed by today’s youngsters which allows them to spend on the latest fashion as and how they like thus giving rise to this new frenzy for shopping at malls, something quite unheard of until a decade ago and a fact most parents still look upon as a negative influence of the Western world.
Trend Analysis: Setting a Precedent for the Coming Generations
Look at any civilization around the world and you will find a striking pattern – everyone has a specific time of the year during which they spend money on buying new clothes. If it is Christmas and Thanksgiving in the Western countries, Kolkata has its own grand festival – Durga Puja!
This is one time of the year when you can guarantee that every Bengali household – young and old, rich and poor, resident and non-resident – will be out shopping for new clothes. And if the trend of recent years is anything to go by, the draw is slowly shifting towards shopping malls. Market data from 2016 shows that there was a sharp increase in sales from shopping malls before the grand festival which points the finger in one direction – Kolkata and her residents have embraced the shopping mall culture and this thawing of relations has also made them more fashion-savvy than any time in recent memory.
Residing in a neighborhood boasting a shopping mall also brings with it the desire to make oneself a class apart in society. Hence, the frequent visits to shopping malls accompanied by unabated shopping, often unmindful! All of these factors combined have given rise to the new breed of citizens in Kolkata who are more fashion-savvy than some of their compatriots, whether intentionally or otherwise. Residents of posh, upscale housing complexes such as the one next to South City Mall or in the vicinity of Forum Mall and Mani Square Mall are among those likely to fall in this bracket and it won’t be long before the rest of the city looks to emulate their fashion sense.
Shopping Malls in Kolkata are Changing the Landscape of Localities
Today shopping malls are not only built at the central locations at Kolkata, but they are coming up in quiet neighbourhoods too. The characters of such localities are drastically changing because of the presence of shopping malls close by.
EM Bypass near Patuli, Kasba, Jessore Road are few examples where glitzy shopping malls completely transformed these localities with changed buying habits of residents of these areas. These days a major parameter for choosing a location for buying a flat is the presence of a shopping mall nearby.
There is absolute certainty that shopping malls are here to stay. They will come up in many more locations in Kolkata and will bring the residents of adjacent areas a place to hang out, meet friends, have dinner, and of course, make them look good in best dresses.