Mumbai, India

  • Date
  • 7 February 2001

I’m told by many in Mumbai that Sheetal is one of the top Indian design houses. Upon my visit to the main, largest store, I decided the ‘cutting edge’ Indian designs must be in the traditional saree department (although how cutting edge can one get with a centuries old, traditional dress) or couture, which wasn’t on display. Most of the ready made t-shirts, pants, skirts, lingerie and bathing suits were not of good quality. Perhaps these are not genuine Sheetal designs and the Sheetal label is added to increase the price tag by a few rupees.

Walking and riding through Mumbai, I see most young women wearing sarees, but some young females and most males wear jeans, t-shirts and tailored tops. A Gap, Banana Republic or even a discount-type store like TJ Maxx would do well here, but I’m sure the government makes it less than easy for these companies to enter the Indian market. No matter that India has changed tremendously over the last five years, as locals are quick to mention, the government continues to own and protect most industries. The lack of competition does not necessitate efficient, attentive workers or lead to an expansion of new ideas.

Mumbai is a tantalizing, enrapturing city coming of age, filled with possibly as many challenges as opportunities.