Bringing India to Uganda

Bringing India to Uganda


Indian culture has fascinated fashion designers and followers for ages. The vibrant colours in its fabric and the shine in its jewelry have inspired some of the world’s most iconic designers into creating timeless fashion for decades.

By Emmanuel Bagwana
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First published: May 26, 2005


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India had taken a break from the ever changing world of high fashion until recently when it resurfaced on catwalks around the world. There is a sort of Indian renaissance going on across the globe as Indian fashion, movies, music and even spirituality are now a must for the hip and trendy. Some of today’s top designers have rediscovered the diversity of Indian fashion and borrowed a leaf from it for their collections. At the 2004 Uganda International Fashion week, TRENDZ and Eguana both had influences of India in their collections. Bright colours like hot pink and orange which are associated with Bollywood are all making a major comeback in fashion.

In Uganda, the Saree is probably the most popular form of Indian wear. For those that don’t know what a Saree is, it is a rectangular fabric about 5-6 yards which is draped according to the wearer’s choice and a simple formula. Go to any wedding, introduction or even school event and you are bound to see enough Sarees to fill up a Bombay clothes store! But then again who can blame the people for choosing this simple, elegant and very comfortable attire?

A “big no no” is getting caught with the same fabric as everyone else. There is a diversity of fabrics you can use like silk, satin and chiffon. You can push the limits by trying out a beautiful cotton fabric or Kitenge if you are in a more experimental mood. If you are plus sized wearing a Saree, use soft draping fabrics as they make you appear slimmer. Fabrics like Chiffon, Georgette and Silk are ideal. The thin woman should buy heavier fabrics like Organza and cotton which give a fuller effect. Another thing to avoid is large prints, especially for those that are plus sized, and very large borders for the slimmer woman. To avoid inconvenience when draping, use safety pins.

Another option for those that would like to wear something Indian but don’t want to look like everyone else is to try out the other kinds of Indian fashion. The Salwaar Kameez, which is popularly known as the Punjabi suit, is a great option for different events. It all depends on its fabric, colour and maybe the embroidery or beadwork on it. Some are very intricately embroidered that they can take you from a wedding to a dinner. Others are very simple and made from fabrics like cotton which are ideal for the office. The Salwaar Kameez is popular among Moslems due to its decency and maybe origins. Some tips on how to wear the Kameez is to ensure that the pants are longer than what you usually wear which makes you appear taller. Stiff fabrics should also be avoided if you want a slimming effect. The Salwaar Kameez usually consists of a long top and very large pants that are gathered at the waistline by a cord. Of late modern versions have been made whose pants are either tight fitting (Churidaar Kameez) or shorter, this however depends on the person wearing them.

The Lehanga Choli, is most likely to appeal to the younger generation. It consists of a short tight top called a Choli and a long pleated skirt called a Lehanga. The skirt is secured just below the waist which leaves the back and the midriff out. This is the chance for those with pierced navels to show them off! You could have both made in the same colour or in a mix and match style whereby the Choli is preferably a single colour and the Lehanga is printed. To complete the look, you may cover your head with a cotton piece of fabric called a Dupatta. Another youthful option is the embroidered blouses made out of light fabrics. They can be worn casually with jeans or khakis or more formally with more glamorous pants or skirts.

For those that think that Indian fashion is a bit too ethnic for their tastes there’s the jewelry which is really big at the moment. Large dangly Indian earrings can be worn with your favorite jeans and vest or that expensive black evening gown depending on your mood and where you are going. They are sold in a variety of colours and shapes and are available in both precious and semi precious options. You can also wear the Bindi or the naval chain for a unique change.

Whatever you choose, remember that this is one trend that lets you have it all. There is no minimalism in Indian fashion. It is your turn to go wild and unleash the bling in you!



By Emmanuel Bagwana
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First published: May 26, 2005
Emmanuel Bagwana is a fashion designer and writer based in Kampala, Uganda specializing in women's design for all ages and occassions. He can be reached on 071 515400 or egwana23@yahoo.com. He also has a website :www.eguana.8m.com.