Over the last century, the fashion industry has seen many changes. From styles, sizes, colours and designs, it is as if the global fashion industry has experienced a whirlwind of revolution, both in terms of practicality and choices. While transgender, especially those in India, have always found “fitting in” to be a hard exercise in all walks of life, the fashion industry is no different. ‘
Shreya is a 28-year-old transwoman and a model based in Kolkata. As a transwoman in the industry, Shreya had not only faced criticism but also found clothing choices to be difficult. Talking to The Logical Indian, she said, “My body is different than any other girl’s and so is the case for others who also belong to the community. I have always found it difficult to find clothes that I like in the women’s section of the store and hence, from an early age, I tailored my own clothes.”
Transgenders tailor own clothes
A group of transmen and transwomen in Kolkata have started a silent movement some six months ago. Since October 2018, five transpersons have been undergoing gruelling training to make clothes which are finally going to help them dress the way they feel. The project, conceptualised by West Bengal Transgender Board member Ranjita Sinha and supported by the 160-year-old sewing machine company Singer. It is at their Park Street office in Kolkata where the group has been busy training to design their own clothes. The group left their day jobs and travelled far distances just to learn sewing and designing clothes and matching handbags as well.
However, their efforts do not stop at manufacturing these clothing items. At a fashion show on February 23, the transmen and transwomen will model their own clothes for the first time. The group will present their tailored outfits to leading fashion brands to help transgender clothing find their own place in the mainstream fashion industry. The group has sewed 10 clothes which they will model.
Karigaari will showcase their designs
Talking to The Logical Indian, Ranjita Sinha said, “I have always been involved in activism and I wanted to study fashion when I was younger. However, owing to my gender identity and other constraints, I could not fulfil a lot of my wishes.” Sinha, who is inspired by actress Meena Kumari, has been making clothes which fit her style sense. She added, “In our fashion show, Karigaari, we are going to not only show the clothes that we make but also try and explain the fact that we are also a part of the mainstream society.” She explained that what the group is trying to do is not out of the norm, however, the uniqueness only lies in the fact that we are trying to reinvent styles and fashions that are lost and trying to tailor it to our needs.
While in western countries, gender-fluid fashion has been able to create a niche for itself, in India, the clothing revolution is yet to take off. Ranjita said that fashion is individual creativity and should not contain any discrimination. Additionally, after the fashion show, the industrial sewing machine will be donated to the group. Shreya hopes that they will be able to open a boutique soon.
The Logical Indian applauds Ranjita Sinha and the group for coming up with a plan like this which would help in making the fashion industry more inclusive.