Popular Indian designer says fashion is key to social identity
October 08 2019 10:06 PM
RUNWAY: Designs by Prasad Bidapa, a well-known Indian fashion consultant and stylist. -Photos by Ram Chand

Fashion is a social marker. People can understand someone by looking at the fashion they wear. You can also derive what kind of personality an individual has by looking at the way they dress and the colours they wear.
Prasad Bidapa, a well-known Indian fashion consultant and stylist, believes that many messages come through fashion designs “Therefore, fashion becomes extremely important as a sociological tool because it gives you a marker of which nation you are from.”
Bidapa was recently in Qatar on the invitation of the Embassy of India to attend a special event at VCUarts Qatar to highlight the importance of Khadi, a fabric popularised by Gandhi whose 150th birth anniversary was marked on October 2. Community interviewed him about Khadi and contemporary fashion.
Bidapa, who has been in the Indian fashion industry for about four decades, is also very interested in education. He has travelled around the world to attend different fashion shows. 
“About five years ago, I became very interested in Khadi. It is a very emotional fabric for Indians and other South Asian nations. We call it the fabric of freedom. This is because of Mahatma Gandhi, who used it as a tool to strike against the colonial power.
“Khadi can further be defined as a hand spun and hand woven fabric. If there is any element of mechanisation in it, it is no longer Khadi. It is a fabric that is biodegradable and it is sustainable. Today, India produces a large amount of Khadi because the country still has handlooms and spinning the charkha is still a very heavy activity all over the country. Khadi is particularly suited for new born infants. We always tell people do not use synthetic fabrics for children.
“Further, Khadi is a kind of spiritual fabric. First of all, spinning of Khadi becomes a very concentrated and philosophical act. If your concentration breaks, the thread on the charkha will break. They say that you have to get into a state of absolute nirvana literally to be able to spin fine thread. Now, there is a big revival of this form. It can create further jobs and income opportunities for over 20 percent of India’s population. Khadi is now a fabric of luxury. We want it to become something more exclusive. When you are creating something with handcraft, you are creating something exclusive that can never be copied by anyone. That is our message for the young designers. We have to inspire them to feel that they can have some lasting values and they can contribute to this wonderful unbroken chain of 5,000 year history of the subcontinent textile.”
Bidapa says the fashion in the subcontinent has come a long way since its independence from the British Raj. “Women in combined India have always been very fashionable. Even with nothing they would creating something wonderful. Fashion always existed. But, it became a serious matter with certain fashion designers in 1960s. Then in 1970s and 80s things picked up momentum with new generation of designers.”
The experienced designer believes the ethnic arts of the subcontinent will never be in danger. 
“Sari is as popular as it used to be. In fact, women in the West have started wearing sari. We have to cater international markets. My message is to use fabrics of India and create a global product with it. That is the challenge for the new generation of designers.”
The designer does not see Bollywood really promoting fashion in India. “Bollywood does not really dictate the fashion. However, a star can wear a certain design and make the designer successful. But I do not think that Bollywood has created a certain kind of fashion trend. India is a big country and Bollywood is not followed in all of the country.”
Bidapa, who was in Qatar for the first time, was impressed with the country in many ways. “Qatar is fast becoming an education hub. I felt very welcomed and very much at home. 
“Khadi is a perfect fabric for tropical and desert climate. Wearing Khadi, we feel very cool. It can help us in coping with fluctuations of the temperature. Khadi will help you preserve your body temperature.” 

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