Ten years ago, little Neha’s short skirts were the hottest topic of discussion in her hometown, Kochi. A 15-year-old girl revealing her knees in public -— this was seen as one of the biggest insults for her family. “Today, take a stroll around the city and you find a minimum of three girls strutting around in shorts and nobody bats an eyelid. Kochi has drastically changed over the years, thanks to a number of huge fashion events the city is coming up with every year,” says Neha Ramesh, a working professional.
The fashion culture of the city has certainly changed. Over the past few years Kochi has hosted to a minimum of 15 fashion shows a year, but for the first time from January to March 2011, about 15 shows have already been completed. Kochi is gearing up to be the host of the International Fashion week this August — creating history of sorts! Following this are a string of top-notch fashion shows to be conducted in the city like the Kerala International Fashion Week, Small Screen Maharani, IIMS Fashion Show etc.
Dalu P., the popular fashion choreographer, who has been in the fashion industry for more than 12 years, considers Kochi one of the best spots for fashion to flourish in the coming years. “I used to do more shows in other parts of the country, but for the past so many years Kochi has been my major business concern. Since this is a city with the biggest floating population, we have developed a mixed culture here and hence people are becoming more open to the modern culture. I am sure Kochi will become one of the biggest fashion hubs of the country in the near future,” he says.
Anson Antony, a leading fashion photographer in Bengaluru is a Kochiite and is all praise for the fashion taste of his brethren back home. “Every time I come down to Kochi for my vacation, I find the city has developed drastically especially as far as the fashion industry is concerned. Our youngsters have picked up an appreciable taste in the field. If Kochi continues with this pace it will definitely be the biggest fashion centre in the country within years,” he exclaims.
While Tinu, a Malayali model who has walked the ramp in most Indian metropolises, doesn’t think Kochi is anywhere near the other fashion centres. She accepts the fact that trends are fast changing. “Malayalis have to understand that we models are not humans left for the world to ogle at. There is immense hard work every model goes through before he/she walks the ramp. In all other cities fashion shows are organised by designers in order to showcase their work thereby commercialising their products. However, it’s only in Kerala that you find a fashion show for the launch of cook wear!” she points out.
While Shiffin Haneefa, the model from Kochi who recently won the Hairomax Best Beautiful Hair contest, says the fashion scene in Kochi has changed so much that people have started accepting the fact that these events are more than just a skin show. He says, “Kochiites today appreciate and encourage youngsters who enter the modelling industry. It seems to be the best place for young models like me to ‘cut our teeth’.”
Yet, Antony Richard Jason, the Managing Partner of Tactics, the Event Managers, which hosts some fashion shows in the city, has a very different opinion. According to him, “Most fashion shows conducted in Kochi are nothing but cheap imitations of Western culture. Fashion shows should aim at developing a healthy trend in the city. What is the meaning of hosting bikini shows in Kerala? I really do wonder. I am planning to conduct a show in the city, which will focus on the style statement of traditional Kerala. It’s high time the fashionistas redefine the Kochi fashion scene.”