Balancing tradition with modernity: Redefining Rabari style

Balancing tradition with modernity: Redefining Rabari style

Dress: Ambraee

Jewelry: Janpath and personal collection

Footwear (Kohlapuri): Aparjita Toor (samesimilarsimilar )

Location: Ugrasen ki Bauli, CP, Delhi


Clad in plain black attire, covered heads, distinctly visible tattoos on arms & neck, statement jewelry pieces adorned in bronze and silver, the Rabari culture has always been fascinating to eyes.


In the region of North Gujarat, especially in the region of Kutch, one of the most interesting ethnic communities is Rabari’s. Once a nomadic people, Rabari’s follow an interesting lifestyle and customs. What fascinates me is the origin of Rabari culture dated for almost 1000 years old, has still maintained & preserved its authenticity in terms of culture, fashion and craftsmanship. The Rabari’s have roamed the deserts and plains of what is today known as Western India (Gujarat & M.P).

Picture credits: Mitchell Kanashkevich


Rabari women and their unique style:

The Rabari women dedicate long hours to embroidery, unique thread & mirror work in a varied spectrum and mud relief techniques. Women are adorned in either colorful attire or plain black, holds charge to a number of cultural and social practices along with preserving their exquisite style. They are renowned for the finest embroidery and beadwork. Embroidery is a vital, living and evolving expression of the crafted textile tradition of the Rabaris. Rabari women diligently do embroidery on textiles as an expression of creativity, aesthetics and identity as far as the tribe’s collective memory goes.

I came across a few Non-profit Organizations of India, who are actively involved in promoting women empowerment as means to provide rural women a better livelihood by selling apparel & various lifestyle products crafted by them all over the country. (Stay tuned for another post on the blog where i will share few of my favorite NGO’s where you can find quite an amazing variety of products handcrafted by rural artisans of our country).

Quite amazing is how gracefully Rabari women carry a black attire, all in its simplicity. Married Rabari women wears white bangles along with pleated blouses setting themselves apart from unmarried ones.The veil called as “Ludi” is also carried in a variety of colors depending upon different age groups and signifies marital status within society. Their jewelry is modest in comparison to other tribal women.

Picture credits: Jimmy Nelson


Tradition vs Modernity:

Tradition: Transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation; in short cultural continuity.

Modernity: Defined as connecting to new and the contemporary by rejecting the old.

With modernization taking over our very own cultural heritage, there’s an impulsive air surrounding most of us in this race of indulging into new & on-trend fashion, overlooking what our culture offers us. What defines being modern these days, is the need to follow new trends, consuming & buying more than we need and being fashion forward leaving behind our cultural beliefs.The concept of this post is based on defining a new way to combine tradition and modernity while we preserve what our culture has to offer.

Cultural Modernity:

Defined as anything which is considered to be modern but still has traces of the culture of a particular group of people.

I am a modern Indian woman, much fascinated by cultured fashion of different regions. I feel a simple way to preserve the authenticity of a culture along with indulging oneself in today’s fashion is to maintain a balance between both, promoting Cultural Modernity. Small emerging Designers these days, have come up with new ways to amalgamate traditional & cultural aspects of Indian handloom with contemporary designs, introducing us with modern silhouettes & cuts in handwoven traditional fabrics.

People are re-imagining their Indian-ness to include our textile heritage” says Parmesh Shanahi, Head of Godrej India Culture Lab.

Much fascinated by Rabari culture, I have always wanted to be a part of it in my own way and this blog has been a great source for me to express my desires of indulging myself in fashion inspired by different cultures.

rabari inspired

Cladded myself in a contemporary silhouette of a black drape dress, tattoos on my arms, adorned with some unique statement pieces, head covered with a handmade bandhini dupatta found at a local shop, lost in the beauty of a glorious past of the ancient step well, enjoying my own version of Rabari. 

I looked around for available styles and sources to recreate this unique Rabari look as a new way of balancing the culture with today’s modern aesthetics. Dresses with unique silhouettes and drapes add a hint of modernity to simple cotton fabrics, redefining what has been left behind. Fashion that is inspired by culture is considered slow, ethical and memorable, similar to a culture as rich as Rabari that has lived for 1000 of years and will continue to maintain its authenticity.

Let your clothes speak for the things you believe in without having to explain.

Rabari culture has not only attained a hand full of respect for their women & the talents they possess but have also preserved their identity without having to promote what they stand for. This #MadeinIndia initiative curated by me a while ago has helped me rejoice & indulge in everything i wanted to enjoy from quite a long time. I hope you guys like the post, giving a new definition and a new balance between old & new and how you can too evolve your own version of culture inspired fashion.

You may also want to take a look at the related posts: Redefining Culture & Choices and Slow Fashion Movement in India.

tribal inspired fashion transforming traditions


what is cultural modernity

rabari tribe

modern rabari


tradition versus modernity


rabari culture of india


agrasen ki baoli


redefining rabari


Styling & concept: Tanvi Mutneja (@theurbanboho)

Photography: Ayush Aggarwal (Furtographer)



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