Which city is haute? Delhi or Mumbai?
Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel famously quoted that fashion is not something that exists in dresses only but fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas and what is happening around. Fashion is beyond the clothes we wear, it is a way of life. In a culturally diverse nation as ours, it is explicable that the way-of-life in Delhi is drastically different from what it is in Mumbai.
It has been over three months since I relocated from New Delhi to Mumbai along with few other Delhiites and their ramblings still continue to go on and on about how Mumbai sucks and Delhi is more worthy of human inhabitation. The stark disparities between the two cities were coherently evident the very moment I landed in Mumbai as I now live the celebrated tales of humidity, dirty roads, over-crowded trains in backdrop of Mumbai’s vindictive monsoon showers . Mumbai is a city where high-rise commercial structures are erected next to dilapidated slums. In the nation’s commercial capital, the good, bad and ugly – it is all out in open unlike in the political capital where the bad and ugly is carefully hidden in pockets and all we see is posh-clean-green-roads from the surface. I already have my folks calling me back to Delhi for they think it is a better place for a fashion designer to kick-start his career.
The Delhi-fashion-vs-Mumbai-fashion is a well-worn debate that never seems to end. If asked to vote for a fashion capital between the two, I’d go with New Delhi for more than one reason. To start with, the city is host to the nation’s largest fashion week with substantial participation from designers and buyers. Being home to malls like Emporio which remains unmatched in its class, New Delhi can also be dubbed as India’s luxury shopping Mecca. New Delhi also boasts of street markets like the infamous Sarojini Nagar or the Chor Bazaar near Jama Masjid which not only offers export reject surplus at throw-away rates but the styles are trendy and more experimental as compared to the fashion streets of Mumbai. Apart from the fashion week and shopping panorama what really makes Delhi distinctive is the fierce winters when Dilliwalas layer themselves in their leather jackets, trench coats, woolens and boots which is unheard of in Mumbai.
Fashion not only reflects the lifestyle but the roots, culture and the attitude of a society. In Delhi, it is common to see young girls smeared with make-up turning up at Sarojini market from an auto-rickshaw accompanied by LV bags (real of fake, but the brand names are scattered all over in Delhi). In contrast, you will find Mumbai girls hopping around in simple tank-shorts in a mall and later drive back home in a Jaguar. In Delhi even my not-very-educated-broker proclaims his love for luxury brands like Gukkey, Lan-vin and ChaNNEL, while in Mumbai I overheard a woman say, “It’s too high fashion for me” at a Forever21 store – a statement for which the lady will be ridiculed in Delhi! I can step into the Palladium mall in Mumbai wearing smart casuals while I’d cautiously sport my best blazer if I am visiting the Emporio in New Delhi. It is remarkable that I’d feel awfully under-dressed if I wore smart casuals in Emporio but I wouldn’t really feel over-dressed if I happened to wear my best blazer in Plladium. If Delhi is known for being brand conscious, trendy and extravagant, Mumbai is all about being cool and chic. There’s more social pressure in Delhi to dress-up and look trendy. If college girls carry fake Prada bags, you’ll see sweepers wearing Naykee shoes, it’s the brand name that matters more than the product itself. Unlike Delhi, Mumbai has a distinguished stylish populace and are more individualistic rather than being trend driven.
The lifestyle one prefers depends on an individual’s personality and how the person relates with the society. In my case, I can already relate more with Mumbai in last three months than I could ever connect with Delhi in last five years. I can correlate with Mumbai’s minimalism more than Delhi’s bling. I’ll be happier to wear Converse shoes worth Rs.1200 rather than stylish yet cheap knock off of Rs.6000 worth Puma shoe from Sarojini Nagar market!