Delhi's best shops for fashion, from Indian couture to contemporary wear
The Indian capital has become a hipster city with a wave of young fashion designers bringing a new sense of style. Here's our guide to the best places to shop for fashion in the country's style capital
New Delhi has long been considered the fashion capital of India, mostly because of the individual sense of style of many of its denizens. (Think guys on the street sporting sparkling sweater vests in various hues.) But it's only recently that it has become a hipster destination with a burst of young design energy bringing a new sense of style to the city.
With most of India's couture designers based in New Delhi, it is well known as a place to shop for traditional Indian attire and accessories. Now an onslaught of contemporary fashion, often fusing flowing Indian styles with Western cuts, means it's no longer only the domain of those with unlimited budgets.
Janpath Market, Connaught Place
The old faithful of New Delhi's markets has seen boutique activity since 1950. Popular with tourists and locals alike, it's the place to go when you want a bargain for your buck — and to discover things you won't find in any upscale mall.
Located in the middle of Edwin Lutyens' new city, Janpath (meaning "People's Street") was a part of the new capital when it was built in 1931. The cheap and cheerful open stores on the main stretch each boast their own remit: colourful costume jewellery, breezy embroidered kurtis (loose tops) and juttis (the simple traditional Indian leather slip-on shoe, found in an array of colours and embroideries). Prices start around 100 rupees (HK$12.50).
Follow one of the left turns into the market to find export-quality clothing from international brands ranging from Calvin Klein to Topshop. Just check that they're the proper size and have no defects before you buy.
Santushti Shopping Complex, Chanakyapuri
A few minutes' drive from Janpath, is Santushti, originally created for Indian air force wives to set up their own boutiques. It remains hosted by the air force, on government property, so don't be surprised by the military security personnel upon entry.
The grassy, leafy complex is a year-round haven for peacocks strutting their stuff. Enter on the right to find Ogaan, a haven for emerging talent, one of the original multi-designer stores in New Delhi. The Santushti store stocks the best of contemporary Indo-Western fusion wear as well as a good collection of embroidered Indian bags and costume jewellery. Prices start from 500 rupees.
Lotus Eaters sells one-off pieces of delicate silver and gold jewellery. There's also a cool collection of silver hip flasks, which can be monogrammed.
For cheerful reinventions of handspun khadi tops, perfect for hot and humid climes, Kapas is a newer entry to the complex. They also stock typical '80s-style Indian home products, such as antiquated tins adorned with the goddess of wealth.
On the left entry to the complex, Ensemble stocks elegant, laid-back women's collections from India's haute-couture designers. Prices start around 2,000 rupees.
- Ogaan, 4-A, AOC, Santushti Shopping Complex
- Lotus Eaters, 16, Santushti Shopping Complex
- Kapas, 34, Santushti Shopping Complex
Within the ruins of the city walls of Siri Fort, Shahpur Jat — built in the early 14th century — has become a home for young creatives because of more affordable rents. Mind the ambling cows.
Initially popular for Indian trousseau shopping, the village is now full of edgy boutiques blending Indian and Western wear. Narrow lanes intermingle with street art.
"Shahpur Jat is so amazing because of its dual nature: walk across the street and you see a fruit hawker or a woman dyeing cloth, and in the midst of this village, you have a fashion epicentre," says Pooja Roy Yadav, founder and creative director of Nimai, which stocks trendy jewellery from up-and-coming designers.
"On a regular day, I'll see a guy with a fat, old radio and a girl walking a tightrope; people celebrating the birth of a son by singing rustic songs while I'm entertaining international clients."
Dada Jungi House, the main fashion street, offers Kardo (above), a menswear brand established by British-born Rikki Kher. It focuses on fine clothing that blends Indian aristocratic tradition with modern, sleek shirts and jackets. Prices start around 3,000 rupees.
Downstairs is his wife, Olivia Dar, famous for her jewelled collars and skull bracelets. These accessories fuse local aesthetics with European style. Nearby, Indo-French ethical yoga and loungewear brand Yes Oui Care uses organic materials.
Take a left at the end of the street into another vibrant village lane, and you'll find Nimai with its displays of jewellery. Pieces start from 1,000 rupees.
- Kardo, 5G, Dada Jungi House, 2/F, Shahpur Jat
- Olivia Dar, 5A, Dada Jungi House, 1/F, Shahpur Jat
- Yes Oui Care, 5I, Dada Jungi House, G/F, Shahpur Jat
- Nimai, number 8, Near Dada Jungi House Lane, Shahpur Jat
Hauz Khas Village
A stone's throw from Shahpur Jat is South Delhi's Hauz Khas Village, filled with boutiques and restaurants against a picturesque setting of ancient Mughal ruins.
Don't be misled by the wooden carts and jumble of tangled wires overhead, Hauz Khas is Delhi's hipster central — for food, fashion and art. Enter on the right and follow the path to Nappa Dori for handmade, high-quality leather goods. From 300 rupees.
Down the inner is a set of stairs to Bodice, a modern Western label with clean, straight lines for men and women. Famous for her crisp white shirts, designer Ruchika Sachdeva appeared in this year's edition of Forbes India's "Thirty Under 30".
Across the street is Loom Mool — a boutique that supports weaver communities who still use traditional artisanal looms. Notable are the faux gem-studded bracelets and accessory cases. From 40 rupees.
- Nappa Dori, shop 21, Inner Lane, Hauz Khas Village
- Bodice, shop 2, First Floor, Hauz Khas Village
- Loom Mool, number 23, Hauz Khas Village