B-towners have often been seen sporting Army prints and military-inspired clothing. Whether it is a movie promotion, an airport look or a casual meet, they carry these outfits with full tashan. And anything a millennial star wears becomes a style statement for youngsters. Alia’s sporty short-dress, or John or Ranveer’s baggy military trousers, have been big hits in the past, with national and international brands helping these trends settle in.
However, in an appeal to the public from the Kishtwar Police in Kashmir, it has been stated that ordinary people are not to wear clothes influenced by the Army’s uniform. Selling such apparel has also been banned in a major part of the state with the reasoning that terrorists, in the recent past, have planned to execute attacks using such clothing as a disguise. These uniforms have many a time misguided civilians and even authorities.
A Srinagar-based retired Army-person, who did not wish to be named, says, “World over, fatigues are banned. However, in India, it has become a fashion.
People are wearing uniforms to depict themselves as ‘he-men’. A uniform is related to chivalry, bravery, and nationalism-it has to be kept sacrosanct.” He doesn’t, however, see great value in imposing a ban. “There are many channels to gain access to fauji clothing other than salespeople. Ban hone se ban nahi hota (a ban doesn’t stop access).”
Rajat, a 30-year-old civil engineer, agrees. He says that the terrorists can source these clothes from different regions of the country if they intend to use them for illegal activities. Banning the sale of Army prints is just going to affect local businessmen. He continues, “Thus, the question that now arises is while it is Kashmir now, is there a chance that these restrictions will affect the glam world nationwide?”
Fashion trends are being similarly probed internationally. Baggy outfits and block-heels, for instance, have been under immense scrutiny at high-security zones. Designers have felt that the ban affects their freedom of innovation. Some are, in fact, under the impression that a nation like India is taking a step back and bowing down in the face of adverse situations with these decisions. Ashima Sharma, a Delhi-based fashion designer, opines, “Curating outfits is a creative process which takes a lot of hard work and constant innovation, so restricting fashion will be a problem for the industry if these rules are implemented in other cities as well. But, on the contrary, these restrictions are put for a cause to do with the safety of the citizens in Kashmir and other bordering areas, and safety is a topic of national importance. So, I feel that we, as responsible citizens, should cooperate. Having said that, I do hope that soon these restrictions will get lifted and people will be able to enjoy their lifestyle with their choice of self-expressive clothing. I don’t feel India is getting regressive due to these restrictions, we have already become very progressive and these situations are just a matter of circumstance.”
Huma Nasr, an individual who claims to have always supported freedom of expression and doesn’t believe in illogical beliefs and conservative traditions, says, “Why does fashion have to be treated as an element connected with terrifying statements like ‘it elevates terrorism through certain fashion trends’. We, as fashion designers, believe in the freedom to create the best cuts and couture. I request, don’t get the fashion world involved in all this. Rest, I’m sure all designers think alike here. Fashion breaks borders; let’s cherish that instead.”
While nothing matters more than national security, other factors need to be addressed as well. Surely a bridge between creative freedom and public safety can be achieved without going for an extreme solution....