We'll always have Paris. And Milan, London and NYC. But as Fashion Month is taking off, this time we decided to branch out a bit (or a lot). We know what you're thinking: India is known for its food, its rich history, its mountains, its wildlife and its gastrointestinal bullying. Fashion is not the first thing to be mentioned about this vast country, so varied that it actually becomes mysterious. Which is a damn shame, because India is a paradise for shopping some of the best clothes you could ever hope to own — and on a budget. Here are some of the brands to watch.

Play Clan

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Play Clan is strange, marvelous eye candy (“candy,” by the way, is a word of Sanskrit origin). A brand that can best be described as a fusion of pop colors and traditional Indian themes, it pushes the boundaries of what can be conceivably worn without raising more than one eyebrow, while at the same time keeping your grandmother happy. The accessories rock, too, and the caftans look like they came out of some strange '70s movie. In a very good way.

 

Anokhi

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This time-honored Indian brand has been around for 40 years. It started in Jaipur, which is famous for its cotton in a country that has plenty of competition in textiles. Anokhi preserves and expands traditional dyeing and printing techniques, and it shows in the soft cotton shirts, luxurious bedclothes, and flowing saris and sarongs. Each piece is ablaze in wondrous color, especially in the blue and red shades of the spectrum (did you know that “crimson” has its roots in Sanskrit?). Don’t forget to take a hand-carved wooden printing block to print your own fabrics at home.

 

The Khadi Shop

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How would you like to feel the revolution on your own skin? When Gandhi was calling to free India from the British yoke, he advocated the emancipation of the country’s rural areas through small-scale clothing production, which was called khadi (imagine an early sort of fair trade exclusive to villages of the subcontinent). Khadi culture soon exploded, and today it is one of the initiatives of the Indian government that keeps many villages and rural areas employed. The movement now comprises many different products: We love The Khadi Shop, an all-natural cosmetics chain that produces a variety of soaps, oils, shampoos (a word, you guessed it, of Sanskrit origin), cleansers, toners, creams, bubble baths and conditioners. It’s truly a revolution, beauty-wise.

 

Fabindia

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To the tourist, Fabindia is a shop brimming with unfamiliar clothing, like kurtas, dhotis and dupattas — Fabindia is committed to bringing the joys of traditional Indian fashion to the world. But if you're confused at first, just give it a minute. Indian clothes make sense in ways that a pair of jeans, for example, could never hope to. They are stylish, extremely comfortable and colorful without being over the top (orange being a favorite color). Fabindia is the shop to visit if you want to take the first few steps before chasing silken saris in Mysore or piling on Mughal jewelry. Plus, we cannot understand why the Nehru jacket isn’t a thing in the West.

 

Shirtings and Suitings

Fashion-wise, you really can’t go wrong in India. If you feel adventurous, you can wander into the first small fabric shop you come across, in any given village, and buy yards of pure cotton cloth. The fabrics for shirts are called, quite sensibly, "shirtings," while the fabrics for suits are called, you guessed it, "suitings." Just beware: Even the most no-nonsense single-color fabric might hide an intricately embroidered design further down the roll. When asked for plain fabrics, the shopkeepers usually shrug and say, “People here ask for fancy.” To find one of these places, just ask someone in the village snack shop. They’ll know.

 

Good Earth

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The one thing in your home that rarely gets the clothes it deserves is the one you use when naked (or nearly so) — that is to say, your bed. If you want to make amends for years of neglect, then Good Earth is the place to go. Every year this brand of sustainable, luxe bed linens releases a new line inspired by a different region and culture of Asia. Sheets, pillows, quilts and duvets responsibly made with handblock prints, the softest fabrics in the world and the amazing colors of India are waiting to transform your home.


Note: All brands can be found in various locations throughout India. For more details, visit their websites.


By Panagiotis Gavriiloglou

Panagiotis is an ex-nerd, ex-employee, ex-traveler kind of guy, living in a post-everything society. He aspires to make a living by trading the next exoplanetary ore to reach Earth or by reading postmodern novels (whichever first achieves financial viability). He has a wide variety of interests and hobbies and not nearly enough time and attention span to keep track of every single one.