When you live in one of the most fashionable places in the country, it is difficult to ignore the role clothes play in showcasing one’s personality and culture. For most youngsters, it is a way to portray their inner self. The bold, unafraid side shines through edgy accessories and mismatched outfits, while the perfectly pressed shirt and pleated skirt gives a peak into the making of a perfectionist. Then there are those who choose to stay true to their roots while embracing modernity which can be seen in their fusion outfits.
There is a quote that says, ‘style is a way to say who you are without having to speak’ and that perfectly defines the fashion-forward youth of the Northeast. We speak to a few youngsters to find out what style really means to them.
Is fashion only about sporting the most expensive branded clothes you can find? Is style confined to wearing the latest trends? According to a few youngsters we spoke to, it doesn’t seem like the case. Lari is a student, who often manages to stand out with her simple yet striking outfits. She feels, ‘Style is an individual’s way of expressing himself/herself. It is creativity and individuality combined.’ Even Sana, who has no inhibitions about being herself and loves everything retro, shares, ‘It is not about what one wears or how trendy the clothes are, style is all about the way one carries oneself.’
When you are walking across Police Bazaar in Shillong or shopping at Hong Kong Market in Dimapur, you are bound to come across stylish youngsters who grab your attention, not because they are wearing the latest collection by some designer whose name you can’t pronounce but because they have a knack for putting together striking outfits using whatever they can find in their closets. Sporting an oversized vintage denim jacket or upcycled boots is not uncommon; this goes to show that these youngsters have learned to adapt their style to what’s available and make it their own.
But then again, it’s not like youngsters in the Northeast don’t spend on clothes at all. Yes, there are many who stick to a strict budget, but there are also some fashionistas who don’t mind paying a little extra for something special that catches their attention. One of the youngsters, we spoke to, revealed that she had once spent Rs 20,000 on clothes. Imagine that!
All of us tend to have some items in our closets that we can never give away and that is the case with many youngsters as well. These items become their ‘go-to’ items. For some, it is a leather jacket or that one pair of black jeans which magically goes with any sweatshirt, t-shirt or shirt! For the casual dressers, joggers and tee is something that always comes to their rescue whenever they are confused about what to wear. With roots in a community that has a mix of Bengali and Manipuri influences, Shatavisha has always loved keeping it authentic. But she shares that her closet would be incomplete without two items, ‘My denim skirt and Supreme t-shirt!.’ While one the other hand, Gautam, who loves the easy button-up-jeans look states, ‘I can’t do without my flannels!’
Even though all of the youngsters we spoke to reach for different items on the clothes rack, all of them revealed they tend to dress according to their mood. Also surprisingly, most of them chose comfort over style. Vivor, who loves playing soccer and is a fan of the sporty look, didn’t have to think twice before stating, ‘Comfort over style! Any day!’
It became clear that being fashion forward does not mean forsaking comfort. That gorgeous dress with a little slit can never work its wonders if the person wearing it does not carry it with grace. Lari put forth a good point when she said, ‘Style and comfort should always go hand in hand because comfort without style is bland and style without comfort is illogical.’
By Deirdre Basumatary