“I’m so fed up of clothes that make me look like I’m wearing a potato sack,” says Surelee Joseph. “Can we just get over this anti-fit trend, and allow women to feel like women again?”
It’s not surprising that Surelee and her fellow models are tired of the current cult of the drop-waist dress that’s got the fashion industry in a chokehold. Looking glamorous is, after all, their day job. But with every second designer label positioning itself as ‘gender fluid’ or ‘anti-fit’ — their clothes so eerily similar that I challenge you to tell one from the other — I can’t help but wonder, is it time to bring sexy back?
How fashion lost its oomph
“This trend basically originated because of the sustainable movement, where natural textiles and handloom have become the focus,” explains designer Payal Pratap. “Textiles like cotton and silk don’t stretch, so in order to make the clothes comfortable, they can’t be cut close to the body.”
Even if you ignore the irony that cotton is positioned as the poster boy of the sustainability movement — despite being a thirsty, pesticide-dependent crop that drives millions of Indian farmers to debt and suicide every year— it’s harder to justify the lack of innovation that’s currently plaguing the movement. How many drop-waist midi dresses, figure-obscuring sheaths or oversized jackets can we possibly churn out before we admit that the idea has been flogged to death?
Shift by Nimish Shah balances comfort with sex appeal
Designer Nimish Shah calls out the trend as a poor disguise for the absence of pattern-making skills. “When we started Shift, the clothes were a little geeky, dorky even. Now after five years, we’ve evolved our sensibility. Our customer is still a conservative dresser, but she has these elements of surprise sexiness, maybe by showing off her collarbones or her shoulders, not necessarily in-your-face cleavage. But the fact is, it’s important for designers to evolve.”
Nimish’s label has managed to perfect this delicate balancing act by creating garments that won’t highlight your insecurities, but refuse to drown you in layers of fabric either. “A lot of designers are now finding a happy medium, by adding styling elements like belts or corsetry,” says Pernia Qureshi, whose online store Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop can testify to the popularity of the anti-fit trend. “At Amazon India Fashion Week, designers like Dhruv Kapoor and Hemant & Nandita showed garments that can be worn as loose shifts or belted to show off their curves. So the clothes can be sexy and figure-flattering without clinging to your body.”
Namrata Joshipura embraces high-octane glamour
Of all the tropes associated with the trend, perhaps the most tedious is the insinuation that this is ‘intellectual’ fashion. It’s what irks Namrata Joshipura, an unapologetic purveyor of glamour and style, the most. “I’ve always believed in fashion being fashionable. I like making cool, glamorous clothes and I cannot take that away just to be relevant to a trend,” she says, adding, “I complete disagree with the thought process that anti-fit clothes portray a more intellectual side. Wearing a shapeless shift doesn’t make you any smarter than a woman in a sequined gown.”