Yes, Indian fashion has become inclusive. We are celebrating diversity like never before and changed our beauty parameters. But has the change really happened in the mainstream fashion industry? If the answer was a YES, then Indian models who have been a regular face on the international ramps and walked for designer like Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen wouldn’t have been waiting to get their due back home. What’s the reason behind these models not being able to get more work in India? Is it to do with their complexion or body type? Or just the fact that they don’t fit in the parameter set by brands in India, where they still look for conventional, classic Bollywood type faces. We find out.
Gunita Stobe, who has been running a modelling agency in Mumbai, that helps models to get international placement opines that despite substantial International success, their male models get very little interest from major mainstream clients in commercial sector. “I feel that the openness to consider diverse talent has to spark first at the executive level who lead fashion brands and who are the ones who plan their advertising and marketing strategy which involves of course faces they engage to promote their labels. Most commercial brands in India still will go for that fair, hunk like, classic handsome Bollywood type male model which leads me to believe that they are very much taking the influence from Bollywood which hasn’t changed in years. So, yes our International boys are mostly lean and tall and are very striking which brings out more of their uniqueness factor but I feel that mainstream fashion industry hasn’t developed that understanding yet for these types of features and body types.”
However she also agrees that there are some designers, stylists and photographers who are also promoting diverse talents in India. “ Some designers/stylists from India who perhaps have a presence in international markets also, seem to be more open minded to engage faces which are more authentic,” she adds.
“I think male models in India have always been underrated, no matter how much success they have internationally. Maybe it’s the body type which makes a big difference for the Indian clients since they need bulky models to fit into their Indian outfits. The jobs for Indian male models are very limited because most clients here are interested in international fair looking models. The commercial advertising agencies have set the criteria in a sense that they don’t need dark skinned models to represent their brands sadly,” says Pratik Shetty.
“I believe the influence of the acting industry has more to do with it. Internationally, you don’t see many English actors walking in London Fashion week or French in Paris Fashion Week. But we do see so many Bollywood actors taking over the advertising space and attention on the catwalks. And it’s not just shows, it’s editorials, it goes over into covers and editorial work also. I genuinely wish that some of us boys who have done well internationally would get better recognition and exposure here in our home country, like many of the other international male models do in their countries.” says Tuhir Brahmbhatt.