Most of the traditional, ethnic Indian dresses are embodiments of Indian art and heritage. The designer Sarees, Lehengas, or the embellished Anarkali Suits we see and swoon upon, speak a thousand words about the whereabouts of the art and could be traced back too, to look out for its origin.

Fashion has always been a tool to reflect the art, be it locally or nationally. Both art and fashion are intertwined with each other.

The quintessential Indian artwork on fabric shows what diversities of culture and colors India possesses, and how much it has to offer. Be it any handiwork on Indian dresses, the origin of the work goes back decades.

The fashion statements that were practiced years ago are still prevalent, with little tweaks here and there. But the originality remains as it should it be. 

As the fashion industry is expanding, different world communities come across and show interest in the fashion practices of other regions. That is not only a gesture to exchange art but also make individuals curious enough to look up what they are adorning themselves with. 

Indian designers have always contributed to the international fashion industry with incomparable threads, zari work, embroidery, the brightest of the colours, fabrics, and designs.

Traditional Indian heritage into fashion

I am sure you have come across designer Indian dresses where the designs tell tales of kings, how the queens lived in mahals, or a newly wedded bride travel in a doli or palanquin. They bring to life the myths and legends of ancient India that we usually read in books.

These not only make outfits look richer but also reflect what the Indian heritage or practices were all about.

What India stills believe in, is blending traditional, ethnic artwork with modern fashionable designs. This way it would not only stand out in the mass but also help to preserve Indian heritage.

Traditional Indian artwork into fashion

Some of the traditional Indian works that can outdo the modern ones are as follows:

Zardozi work: The embroidery that means sewing of gold threads onto a silk saree or lehenga, this work that has been practiced since the Vedas, roughly around 1500-1200 BCE. 

Previously, real gold leaves and silver threads were sewn together. Currently, it is done with copper threads, silver or gold polish, and silk thread.  

Zardozi work is popular in cities like Lucknow, Farrukhabad, Chennai, and Bhopal.

Mirror Work: In Gujarat, mirror work is prominent among the Jat community. Small pieces of mirror are sewn by a chain or buttonhole stitch, which uses vibrant threads mostly in white, red, orange, green, and blue. 

The mirror work in Rajasthan is a tad bit different from the ones found in Gujarat. Mirror work in Rajasthan is found with applique, tie and dye or patchwork. 

Gota Work: Gota Patti or Gota work is another zari work, originating in Rajasthan. Gota is a small piece of silver or golden lace or ribbon from Lucknow.

In this, small pieces of zari ribbon are applied on the silk fabric and stitched onto the edges to create elaborate, intricate designs. 

Gota Patti is extremely popular on bridal Lehengas and Anarkalis. It is heavy and gorgeous to look at, but very light to wear. 

Kantha Stitch: A traditional embroidery style that originated in the rural parts of Eastern India, mainly in Bengal, Tripura, and Odisha.

This stitch looks best on cotton or silk fabrics.

In this, the piece of fabric is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of animals, flowers or birds, geometrical shapes, or sometimes, mythological figurines too.  

Chikankari: The delicate and beautiful hand embroidery which is widely loved by people across the world. What started way back in the 3rd century BCE, and was mainly a white-on-white embroidery. 

Chikankari is mostly done on softer or thinner fabrics like cotton, georgette, crepe, chiffon, and silk, which can accentuate the stitches. 

Now, for a richer and fuller look, additional embellishments like mukaish, kamdani, sequins, and beads are stitched along with the thread. 

A total of 32 types of stitches are used in Chikankari.

These are just a few of the numerous artworks practiced in India. Each of these is still made fully manually taking months to complete a piece of cloth. 

Be it designer Sarees, Lehengas, Anarkali suits, or other Indian dresses, these artworks are quite popular in India. All of them look so rich and exquisite that they have pretty high demand in the West.

About the author: An art and dance enthusiast, Dharitri Ganguly is a closet fashionista. And swears up Indian traditional wear. You can read more of her articles on

Author: The Fashion and City

Hi!! I am Swarupa. A fun loving girl, Leo, trend follower, mad for fashion, desert lover and most important a crazy animal lover.