March 27, 2004
A fairly long stretch of my beloved London Bus Route 79 passes through the famous Ealing Road in Wembley. This place offers a feast of Indian sights and sounds (and smells) and is one of the best places in the London to shop for Indian-style jewellery and clothing. There are countless shops proclaiming to be purveyors of “haute couture” with expensive looking facades and large brightly-lit window displays showing off quirky-looking mannequins (with “wheatish” complexion of course) decked out in what are claimed to be the very latest in fashions.
Of course - wherever you find pockets of fiercely competitive retail trade - you will often find shops claiming to be much bigger, better, cheaper and more fashionable than any other - but when you find pockets of Indian retail trade (like in Ealing Road) - you will often witness claims of association with the glamorous world of fashion - and the claims of the most authentic links to the very latest trends in India - as well as the fashion meccas of the rest of the world. Here it’s all about thinking BIG.
Salon De Couture: London, Paris, New York - and Mumbai
However, the Indian tendency towards practicality and functionality often has the ability to dominate right-brained traits like art and aesthetics. Or perhaps it’s the psyche of the trader at work: where it’s price that counts more than the elaborately laid out window display. Whatever, the Indian clothes shops on Ealing Road provide for a very rich and fascinating insight into how the cut-throat world of retail interacts with big-thinking and the glamour of high-fashion.
Ealing Road: Where street-market and high-fashion intersect.
Posted by jag at March 27, 2004 04:09 PM
I will tell you shops that are bigger than those. The area where I live, is a big shopping area. There are about 5 huge clothing stores, 5 storeyed each, and filled up the brim with people on weekends. Thats crowd for you. The fact that attracts people is price - the main factor, and the vareity of designs available.
There are also big shot jewellery shops here - who too have a huge clientile.
And about the internet cafes - there are scores over here, priced at about 15 Rs (i think 1/4 th a pound) here. Its actually cheaper than using a dialup!!!
Hi Sat - I can only imagine the size and variety of the stores that you describe. Catering for a much larger size of client-base I’m sure. And probably much cheaper too. The sarees, lenghas and Punjabi suits in the “designer” shops on Ealing Road are sometimes upwards of £300 ! This is the “price the market will bear” effect at play.
15 Rs is actually 18p (0.18 pounds). That’s way cheap! Dialup tarrifs here in UK vary - but metered services (i.e. “pay as you go” ) are usually under 1p per minute - or under 50 Rs per hour.
Lovely stuff. I’d love to be able to dress like that, but I suppose it’s not really “the done thing” for the likes of me, is it?
Oh I dunno - depends on how much of a rebel you are I suppose! :-)
Admittedly - a full-blown sari is a bit complicated, takes a lot of doing - and might cause a bit of a shock to people who are not used to seeing you in one - but you could always go for something a bit simpler, but no less stylish - e.g. like a Punjabi Suit or salwar kameez (long shirtlike top with pants) and “georgettes” are really popular too - in cotton, silk and a huge range of colours. There aren’t many websites that sell clothes like this - but you could get taste for the types of styles and colours if you visit what online shops ther are like: http://www.786shop.com/search_result.asp?Category=Dress-Casual
A few hours of shopping around in places like Soho Road in Birmingham - or Southall - or Belgrave Road in Leicester and you guaranteed to pick some stylish clothes up quite cheaply.
I’m nothing if not a rebel, me.
I’m looking forward to warmer weather so I can wear the longyi I brought back from Myanmar. Not too complicated to wear (though a bit “risky” as they aren’t terribly secure, if you know what I mean) and, of course the ones I bought were silk and maybe a little posh for everyday wear.
I also love those little tops (what are those called?) and think they’d look nice with a longyi. I reckon if I mix it up a bit it might not seem so, hmm, presumptuous, maybe? :-D
The 786 shop is almost certainly Muslim - Pakistani I think. Reason why? Because 786 is a very holy/auspicious number in Islam. So - the ladies wear is, as you can see, quite conservative in design: necklines don’t vary too greatly - and most of the body will be covered by the garments on sale. So - the clasifications of casual, semi-party, party, wedding etc. are going to be all about escalating elaborateness of fabric, colour and patterns/embroidery. The more “party” or “wedding” an outfit is - the more likely it will be made from richer fabrics with deeper colours and more elaborate patterns etc. The term “semi-party” I admit is quite funny - but casual is for everyday home wear - semi-party is when you’ve got your well-known relatives/friends around for dinner, party is for when you invite friends relatives around for a much more formal affair - and wedding is when you go to a wedding of course. (Attending weddings almost every other week in the height of the wedding season is very common.)
Glad you like them. As I say - those are very conservative in their “cuts” - but you can find all sorts of various east/west “fusion” stuff too if you shop around!
I’m not sure what the tops are called. The longyi sounds great! Yes - silk is a bit too posh for everyday casual wear - more party or semi-party! :-)
Actually - I just looked up longyi on Google and found the following Mayanmar government page:
The following extract from it had me falling over laughing:
“Moreover the long sweep of the longyi enhances the beauty and elegance of our young and lissome girls. They appear both slinky and innocent. So the longyi is still the favoured garment.”
I can also now see why the longyi is a bit “risky” ! I also agree with you - one of those sari “tops” (just called a blouse I think) would go quite well with a longyi.
:-) It was interesting to watch (though obviously I tried not to - honest). There was always someone washing at the river morning and evening - longyi over their shoulders but always covering the important bits. And certainly makes sense considering the toilets: two footholds either side of a hole in the ground with a trough of clean water to rinse with. Can’t say I din’t envy the lifestyle in a lot of ways, although it wouldn’t be at all nice in our weather!
There is something appealing about “back to basics” I suppose! We are so spoilt here in the West: so used to luxuries etc. I remember when I was bumming around in the US for a year in the late eighties - living in a car for 6 months - we used to “wash” as best we could in the restroom at Wendy’s or MacDonald’s at 6:00 in the morning - when nobody was around. So I know a little about how it feels like to wash with a longyi over my shoulder! Albeit not with river water! :-)
I agree though - it might not go down very well here in UK! Not only because of the weather - but also the attitudes …
At one point we stayed in a resort - very beautiful - but each room was simply a little wooden house on stilts at the edge of a lake with no heating or even windows - just shutters. Because it was at a higher altitude, it was quite cold, so showering in the morning was bracing to say the least. I hadn’t felt so alive in years and thinking about it today I find I miss it terribly. I wonder how long that love affair would last, but I’d sure like to find out some day.
Not sure I like the idea of a longyi. Saris are nice though very comfortable and girly. I only tried one on last year for a party at a colleague’s house. Not sure I would want to spend the money to get a nice one as it would get so little wear + without help to fold and drape it I am not sure I wouldn’t make it look like a potatoe sack.
Strop: That’s pretty much precisely why I think that sari is so “complex”. Too much for one person to handle alone. Whereas longyi appears to be a lot simpler - but nevertheless a bit too awkward and risque!
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