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Bridal Sarees and Their Importance for Indian Economy- Pale yellow Indian Anarkali by Jyotsna Tiwari at the India Bridal Fashion Week
The Importance of Bridal Sarees for the Indian Economy
08 th Dec 2014

Bridal sarees are the usual wedding dress of typical of Indian culture. Traditionally it was red coloured and embellished with golden embroidery. However nowadays the trends have changed and bridal sarees can be found in many colours such as white, pink, gold, etc.

It depends on the bride’s tastes and the fashion trends of the moment. Bridal sarees consist of mainly the dress (the draped saree fabric) and a blouse. In ancient times, the blouse had long sleeves and no decorations, while in recent years it has become more common to have no-sleeves on the blouses and beautifully designed detailing.

Another difference from the past that is given by the prominence of these items: indeed bridal sarees were traditionally handmade and commissioned to be made by highly-skilled tailors, characterised by the experience and knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation.

Today however these techniques are becoming surpassed and also forgotten by the new generations, thus sarees created by famous Indian fashion designers acquire more value than the traditionally made ones.

Bridal Sarees and Their Importance for Indian Economy- Indian Artisan working on a textile

The designers create different styles with different shapes, using different colours and materials such as brocade, crepe, satin, silk, cotton, etc. Moreover the preference for designer bridal sarees has encouraged exports of these dresses worldwide, making them more accessible to all Indians and non-Indians from different countries.

Every season Indian designers present different styles of bridal sarees and un-surprisingly, this segment of their business is very often the most important source of revenue for their designing effort. There is a general consensus that the bridal segment is to continue to be important for the business of Indian designers. This is due to many reasons:

  • India’s saree market is estimated to generate $2 billion per year in sales and is expected to grow at 8.5% per annum
  • Expenses for Indian bridal wear (including the accessories) generally amount on average to the 6-8% of all the wedding expenses
  • Bridal sarees are being used in a versatile manner on other occasions that aren’t related to weddings: for example on red carpets and fashion parties

High-quality sarees represent a big part of the Indian manufacturing sector, meaning that the kind of dresses and textiles they are made of, are really important for India's economy.

Indeed from a broader point of view, textile craftsmanship is one of the fundamental industries that has contributed to India’s economic development. Indeed in terms of employment it accounts for more than 45 million people directly employed and 14% of the industrial production. Moreover this industry represents the 4% of the GDP and contributed to around 13% of the total export earnings.

Strand of silk- Banking on fashion- Bridal Sarees and Their Importance for Indian Economy- Pale yellow Indian Anarkali by Jyotsna Tiwari at the India Bridal Fashion Week

Sadly these values are decreasing over time threatening the possibility to preserve the Indian manufacturing culture is diminishing in relation to its contribution to the Indian economy.

It depends basically on the Government's encouragement in terms of support systems and changes in consume's' preferences.

The preference for the classical attire, even if revisited, is accentuated by the fact that Indian brides, especially in 2013, started to focus their attention on new types of wedding dresses, that are more contemporary. Indeed modern attire styles like anarkalis and designer lehengas have become almost the first choice amongst young brides.

Thus, unfortunately the bridal sarees is losing it's high-quality sometimes, being replaced by cheaper and industrial-made versions that are less expensive. They are also becoming less valuable due to this. Handmade sarees indeed have a different and recognisable value as well as a social importance in terms of employment and source of sustenance for many artisans across India.

We believe that change in taste and preferences are bound to take place over time. But preserving the culture and heritage is also equally important. Indians should support their traditions and the economic contribution of bridal sarees specifically and in general by the textile industry, because, if internationally exploited, it can lead to a signicant continued growth in terms of India’s GDP.

Sources: The Delhi Bride Wedding Blog, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

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