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The Evolution of Traditional Indian Fashion

Indian fashion has travelled a long way since the first evidence of its existence, about 5000 years ago during the Indus Valley Civilization. However, during this time, people only wore a dhoti, men and women alike. Indian clothing was nothing like the beautiful sarees, salwar suits, and lehengas that we wear on festivals and events today.

The first proof of Indian traditional wear was witnessed in the portraits and carvings found from that era. It was found that people during those days wrapped themselves up in a certain type of cloth equivalent to the dhoti. The more clothes and jewelry they adorned their body with, the better and stronger their status in the society was.

During the Vedic period, women often wore three pieces of clothing. The upper garment, a strip of cloth that was used as a blouse, was known as the “kayabadh”, the lower body garment, also known as the antariya” or the “dhoti”, and the third piece of cloth to cover up the body, known as the “uttariya” or the “dupatta”. The antariya, soon evolved into the “bhairnivasani”, an ancient form of the Ghagra that was stitched on one side and tied around the waist with a girdle, in certain parts of India.

Later with the advent of Mughal and British rulers in India, Indian clothing only evolved to a greater extent, with more variety in style, fabric, and ornamentation. Muslim women normally covered themselves and wore divided garments. These outfits gave birth to garments like the salwarkameez, today known as the national dress in India.

Outside the Mughal court, the Indian saree took it modern form and that is when India saw a different style of draping the saree. In Bengal, during the Victorian era, some Indian women did not wear blouses under their saris, and this was not acceptable in the Victorian society. This is when saree blouses and petticoats increasingly became the norm and made a leap into the Indian vocabulary.

Fashion in India is still in its infant stage, with the fact kept in mind that the first fashion show in India had taken place around 20 years ago. However, Indian fashion has great potential to make it big in the world due to it’s popular heritage and unique designs. The infographic below illustrates the journey of Indian traditional clothing down the years to what it has become today. Let us have a look.



RajatGarg is the Founder of Shimply, one of India’s fastest ­growing multi­-category online bazaar for Indian made products. He earned his M.S in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, San Francisco and then went on to join Amazon as a part of the Affiliate Marketing Team. By the time that Rajat left Amazon, he was well-equipped with Scalable and less-known Digital Marketing methods and he moved on to work with a startup in the U.S, after which he moved to India to start SocialAppsHQ and then, Shimply with the motto, ‘India Ko Try KarkeDekho’ changing the way people shop online and offline.


1 Comment

  1. The open trunk

    December 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    You can also take a look on our trendy Indo- western collection at

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