On a rather humid Friday evening over a cup of coffee with my mother, we struck a conversation that traversed over major nostalgia: fashion magazines back in the day. While fashion in itself was a largely vague term, she recalled one magazine and found gratification in the memories of browsing through the pages. The glossy papers of Savvy were her introduction to the world of conventional fashion magazines. “Leaving the paperback homegrown Sarita magazine behind, Savvy attracted a major part of the population in those times because of its glossy, buttery pages. The content was much more refined, fashion-centric and showcased an Indian woman who was much more beyond the domain of beauty.”
Launched back in 1984, Savvy magazine went by the tagline, ‘Real women, real stories’. Covering topics like fashion, beauty, glamour, fitness, food, career, finance, decor and more, the vibe was insightful, young and fresh. Savvy laid major emphasis on women of substance.
While on the other hand, my colleague, Ainee, recalls an Indian edition of the New York-based, Seventeen magazine. Thinking of those times, she further shared, “Every afternoon, while my mom would devour her novel, I would go through my stack of magazines. Seventeen India was one of the first magazines I had subscribed to, and I would eagerly wait for the issue to find out about fashion, beauty and more (remember this was the pre-Instagram world). I remember submitting a small snippet to the magazine and the joy I felt when I saw it published in the magazine. That feeling is pretty much what drove me to become a lifestyle writer and falling in love with magazines. The magazine was a great insight into the world beyond the small town I lived in, and for that, it’ll always be special to me.”
Apart from these cult favourites in the bygone Indian era, the country witnessed a burgeoning influx in homegrown fashion magazines with a relatively marginal circulation: think magazines like Society found in 1971 by Nari Hira. From business, politics, art, sports and media to giving an inside scoop of the lives of renowned socialites, Society magazine found its place in the wave of 1970s lifestyle magazines in India.
As fashion found its place and liking, content on food and lifestyle found its calling. Magazines like Women’s Era with OG Indian supermodels on their cover brought more information on lifestyle and culture to the Indian readers. Helmed by Divesh Nath as its managing editor since 2002, the magazine was published fortnightly since its inception. Eventually, it took a whole new digital avatar.
The future of Indian fashion magazines changed when they paved the way into the bright lights of Bollywood. Iconic Indian mega-watt star Hema Malini took the role of editor for the first edition of New Woman. One of my friend’s mother remembers her first copy of New Woman as a status symbol of sorts. She went on to share, “If you were seen reading New Woman, you were immediately perceived to be the modern, stylish woman of the 90s India.” The magazine covered a plethora of topics like beauty, fashion, jewellery, fitness, finance, career, self-help, relationships, parenting, culture, food and more.
Which one of these Indian fashion magazines did you grow up with? Let us know in the comments below.
Photographs: Instagram, Unsplash