The fashion industry in India has been reaching new heights, literally. Ladakh recently made history by hosting the world’s highest International fashion show at Umling La, the world’s highest motorable road. Organised under the Vibrant Ladakh Festival, this extravaganza was held at a massive 19,024 feet, setting a remarkable world record. While the fashion world focuses on the big four fashion weeks in New York, Milan, London, and Paris, Ladakh’s fashion show will be etched forever in the fashion world history.
The stunning fashion show was graced by international models from 14 countries, including two Ladakhi models. This first-of-its-kind fashion runway in Ladakh was organised through the collaboration of the Union Territory Ladakh Administration, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, the Ladakh Art and Entertainment Alliance, and with the support of the Indian Army and the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) led by Brigadier Gaurav Karki and Colonel Ponung Doming.
Fashion In India
The Indian fashion ecosystem has undergone a significant transformation over the years, evolving from a predominantly traditional clothing market to a dynamic and globally influential force. This growth can be attributed to a number of factors such as changing consumer preferences, increased disposable income, globalisation, and the rise of e-commerce.
The work of talented designers from India has received recognition domestically as well as internationally. Their innovative designs that blend traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics have played a pivotal role in redefining Indian fashion. From Indian couture to Western and fusion-wear to high-street fashion, the diversity here is noteworthy.
CEC @tashi_gyalson applauded the World Record achieved at Umling-la with participation of brand ambassadors from 14 nations which reflects spirit of #VasudhaivaKutumbakam. He extended gratitude to PM @narendramodi & HM @AmitShah for allowing foreign tourists to stay in Hanle.. pic.twitter.com/xfLiDBSXyE— LAHDC LEH (@LAHDC_LEH) September 29, 2023
This groundbreaking fashion show was aimed at symbolising and promoting the vibrant culture of India encapsulated in the Sanskrit maxim ‘Vasudhaiva Kutmbakam’ which translates to ‘the world is one family.‘ On the occasion of promoting the ‘One Earth, One Family’ theme of G20 India, a foundation stone was laid for the construction of Lord Buddha’s statue at Umling La for world peace. The runway models had brought sand from their respective countries which was also immersed there.
Advocate Tashi Gyalson, Chief Executive Councillor, LAHDC Leh applauded the World Record achieved at this show. He extended his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for enabling the overnight stay of the models and foreign tourists in Hanle as well.
The Pashmina Effect
Beyond the international fashion show, this was also looked upon as an opportunity to promote the highly valued GI-tagged Pashmina of Ladakh. This luxurious fabric is known for its exceptional softness and warmth and is produced in the Changthang region of Ladakh. The runway, thus, proved to be a platform to showcase sustainable and local textile tourism behind the craftsmanship of the Pashmina.
The show was a beautiful amalgamation of colours and creativity. The costumes donned by the models introduced the vibrant colour palette for the spring and summer of 2024 paired with products made from Pashmina. At the event, Tashi Gyalson said, “Such unique initiatives will play a significant role in promoting and strengthening ‘Border Tourism’, which undoubtedly received a major impetus under the visionary leadership of Modi.”
The Ladakh Factor
An international fashion show set against the mesmerising beauty of Ladakh in the background is a spectacular sight in itself. The breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of the region elevated the fashion show experience by leaps and bounds. Walking the runway at Umling La Pass which is 5798 metres tall is no easy feat. The models had to deal with the chilly weather and lower oxygen levels at that altitude.
Umling La Pass overtook Khardung La Pass to become the highest motorable road in the world. The construction of this road which felt like a seemingly impossible feat, was achieved by the Border Road Organization (BRO) as part of “Project Himank”. From a road that wasn’t accessible to hosting an international fashion runway, Umling La and Ladakh have made an international world record we are so proud of.
The event marked a historic moment and served as a testament to fashion’s universal appeal and its ability to bridge cultures. Ladakh’s runway debut will have a lasting impact on the global fashion landscape.