Designer Warmth

India may not have a very long winter, but that hasn't stopped designers from offering options for the season

With the onset of winters in India begins a torrid affair with fashion, as it's time to pull out the woolly jackets, tweeds, knitted pullovers, spunky leg warmers, gloves and the every-generation shawls. Although this yearly ritual of changing the wardrobe may only be part of the North Indian culture, the rest of the country too braces itself for lower temperatures. And if the offerings this time are anything to go by, it's certainly a good time to grab a designer outfit.

In a market that is dominated by brands such as Zara, Mango and United Colors of Benetton, there are several fashion designers who have gone wool-deep to create wholesome winter-wear collections. Delhi-based designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja belong to this set. "The winter-wear offered by brands, more often than not, focuses on functionality. But our creations are a mix of both ornamentation and functionality," says Pankaj. The two recently won the International Woolmark Prize India award for their cutting-edge woollen designs.

While the non-designer range might not be heavy on your pocket, the fact that they are produced in great numbers can irk those who aim for a special look every now and then. It's here that a designer's list of clients comes into play. Designer Anupama Dayal, who has created a whole range of pashmina shawls, capes, jackets, shirts and jeggings this season, says, "I don't design too many winter pieces and I am aware of who I'm targeting. My clientele comprises women who have travelled the world on cruises and know what contemporary winter-wear is about. They're willing to experiment as well."

The main reason designers stay away from hardcore winter-wear is the fact that most of India doesn't face the chill. Delhi-based Aneeth Arora of Pero, however, has the perfect solution to managing the business side of winter-wear as well as fulfilling her creative urge. "I mostly sell my winter line overseas — the UK, Japan and Europe — and that comprises lots of wool. It's all hand-knitted jackets, sweaters, gloves, leg warmers and even pashmina scarves. I like to do justice to winters," she says. She also creates a separate line for her Indian clients using lighter fabrics such as thick cotton and silk. This way it travels to other, less colder regions in India such as Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. "If there are some extras that are left from the overseas collection, I sell them in Delhi. The silhouettes of both the ranges remains the same," says Arora, who has used colours such as green, purple and turquoise in her collection this time.

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