What makes a clique a definitive social group is its individual and, often, zealously guarded boundaries that encapsulate a certain way of life, behaviour and language. And just as there are different cultures and people in the world, one observes that there is a certain culture and lexicon specific to every industry.
It has been noticed that the fashion fraternity is increasingly catching up to create its own semiotics such as ‘jeggings’ (a marriage of denim and leggings) and ‘swacket’ (a union of sweater and a jacket). As Reuter’s recently reported on September 22, the British fashion industry’s “flamboyant use of language is baffling ordinary British shoppers. Even personal shoppers need fashion dictionaries to understand words such as ‘spants’ (harem pants) and ‘swacket’ – terminology which is used on a regular basis by fashionistas, according to British department store Debenhams. “It’s now easier to understand complex calculus than some of the words commonly used by commentators within the fashion industry to describe garments,” spokesman for Debenhams, Ed Watson, said in a statement. The words ‘jorts’ which refers to a pair of denim hotpants; ‘whorts’, winter shorts to be donned with woollen tights; and ‘mube’, a maxi tube dress, amount to a ‘secret language’, according to Watson.
The Pakistani fashion industry isn’t far in emulating the trend, given that a large section of the clique already speaks in what is referred to as ‘minglish’, a mixture of Urdu and English. The coinage of terms such as begum designers, the aunty brigade, darziners (darzi turned ‘designers’, or tailors who elude themselves by thinking of themselves as superior design innovators) and tent (to describe describing the loose flowing tunics that were vastly en vogue in fashion the last year), are but a few examples that have been crafted by the local fashion media and participants within the industry.
Brands like FnkAsia that are premised on a fusion of East and West, for instance, have been a front runner in creating a new diction for fashion. “At Amir Adnan and FnkAsia we have a pair of lowers trousers that we internally refer to as a ‘shrouzer’,” says Huma Adnan, the creative director of FnkAsia. The ‘shrouzer’ is a western twist on a shalwaar with pockets on the side. “Amir Adnan’s winter collection last year had khaadi kurtas teamed with black shrouzers. We needed the model to have a look as formal as a trouser but be as comfortable as he would be wearing a shalwaar.” Similarly, the brand has also innovated to create ‘skinnies’ that are neither churidaars nor jeggings, that FnkAsia has made by incorporating desi prints on them. For winter, the brand plans on introducing yet another conceptual article of clothing, a ‘jacket shirt’ much akin to the international ‘swacket’ that is a cross- pollination between a jacket and a shirt. “Given Pakistan’s average temperate climate, one can’t really wear a jacket and most girls feel uncomfortable wearing a jacket over traditional shalwaarkameez, so we are creating a jacket-cum-shirt that can be worn when the weather turns chilly,” says Adnan.
Globally, one has also observed that while stand-out pieces would initially be called ‘statement’ pieces, such as a large oversized ring would be termed as a ‘statement ring’, these are now christened as ‘cocktail’. A whole new breed of coloured jeggings, are now being called ‘cocktail jeans’ for instance. Yet, despite this whole new range of diction, linguistic purists have criticised the confusing fashion vocabulary and claim the words are simply recycling existing terminology. “The world of fashion is reliant on these changing trends, which are often based on little more than classic foundations with clever twists,” spokeswoman for the British-based Plain English Campaign, Marie Clair, said in a statement. “These latest words are just existing, familiar words that have been cut and stitched to make nothing more than the Emperor’s new clothes,” she said.
Vis a vis Pakistan, senior fashion journalist Aamna Haider Isani is also quite critical, claiming that, “Our fashion industry isn’t sophisticated enough to devise and conceptualise new terms. We barely have two terms of the existing global fashion lingo which has come to the fore, with an awareness of fashion in the last five years, why add to the confusion?” Yet, she agrees that there are certain terms like ‘luxury pret’ that do not exist anywhere in the world, but have been coined locally to define certain elements in fashion.
Across the border, fashion and lifestyle reporter Shilpa Raina, from the Indian news agency IANS, makes a similar remark, “We are not that adventurous in India to create new terms,” she says. “We will churn out new trends but won’t be able to create new terms since, frankly, fashion for the masses is dictated by Bollywood. So yes, people will refer to certain attire as ‘Bunty Bubli’ but won’t be familiar with ‘jeggings’ that are a rage, world over,” states Raina.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM REUTERS
Source: The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2011.