Saris and all things Indian in Melbourne

Mr Syed offers saris in various styles, colours and sizes in his shop in Dandenong, about 35km from the centre of Melbourne.
Mr Syed offers saris in various styles, colours and sizes in his shop in Dandenong, about 35km from the centre of Melbourne.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN PEARLMAN

At his Indian clothing shop in Melbourne, Mr Shahid Syed offers saris of various styles, colours and sizes, but he has noticed a distinct trend in bridal fashion in recent years. 

As he arranges boxes of fabric behind the counter, he laughs and says that "everyone now wants to be a film heroine". 

"The saris are becoming shorter and tighter," he told The Straits Times. "They are showing more of the body."

Mr Syed, 62, is well positioned to observe the changes in Australian-Indian wedding fashion.

A former architect from Hyderabad, he opened his Roshan's Fashion shop on quiet Foster Street in 1994 in Dandenong, about 35km from the city centre. 

Customers soon began flocking there from all over Melbourne as well as from rural areas and other states.

Gradually, other Indian fashion stores opened nearby, along with Indian restaurants and supermarkets selling 20kg bags of rice.

The precinct, the state's first official Little India, now has an Indian museum and  runs cultural tours, attracting locals as well as visitors from across the world.

Annual events such as the Diwali Street Festival and the Bollywood Festival draw thousands of visitors.

At his store on Foster Street, where his saris range in price from A$40 to A$1,500 (S$42 to S$1,560), Mr Syed said the street now has 17 Indian fashion stores.

"Most of our customers are Indian or Fijian-Indian but we have had tremendous support from all over the city," he said. 

"People come from all over. They come here to marry off their daughters."

Jonathan Pearlman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2016, with the headline 'Saris and all things Indian in Melbourne'. Print Edition | Subscribe