Manipur: The Fashion Capital Of Northeast India

Surrounded by beautiful hills and valleys, the state of Manipur is blessed with nature’s bounty, and is rightly considered as the “Jewel of India” by JawaharLal Nehru. The state does not lack anywhere behind even when we talk of fashion and style. Almost everyone admire Northeasterners for their amazing fashion sense and it would not be wrong to consider Manipur as the fashion capital of North East.

One who wants to know the actual meaning of ‘Women Empowerment’, he/she must visit Manipur once. Women rule the state. Women here are independent and are encouraged to work.

Today, we are going to take you to a small cultural fashion tour of Manipur. And will try to give you a glimpse of the cultural trends of the state.

The ethnic wear of the state is a blend of beautiful colors. There’s a different wear for different occasion. An Ethnic Manipuri costume for women comprises of Phanek, Blouse, Innaphi.


Phanek is a type of sarong that is full length (waist to ankle), that comes in many different type of colors usually block colors and the bottom of it has a variety of embroidery. Peach or light pink colored phaneks are usually worn during funerals or sharaad while bright colors are opted for daily wear and festive wears. Unlike sarongs, Phaneks are semi stitched from one side. Girls now a daysdue to the western influence love to wear phanek a little shorter than the usual length i.e from waist till calf.Phanek is worn with a blouse (or a normal top by girls as daily wear) and Innaphi (which is opted by married ladies).


This is a special variety of Phanek and comes in a variety of colors. The horizontal stripes on the Phanek makes it different from the normal phanek. This type of Phanek is usually worn by women during festivals, weddings, functions, etc.
The bottom of the phanek is beautifully embroidered (there are many varied types of embroidery depending upon the price).


Innaphi is a kind of shawl or dupatta and just like phanek it is hand woven too. The fabric usually used to make innaphi is cotton or silk. But in ancient times it was made of bark of creepers known as URIPHI and gradually it was replaced with cotton and silk giving it an enhanced beautiful look that was not found in the olden times. Innaphi is usually draped in two different ways. One way is to wrap it around the shoulders and pin it in the front or it is tucked from one end in to waist and is twisted like a saree’spallu giving the dress a semi sari look. Either way it looks graceful.

The talk of the ethnic wear of any state remains incomplete without the mention of the bridal dress of that state. Manipur’s bridal dress is second to none. It is bright, glittery and the bride appears mesmerizing on her big day wearing the bridal dress.


The very different, very elegant and absolutely stunning bridal attire of Manipur is one of its kind. Potloi was introduced by MaharajBhagya Chandra of Manipur who ruled the state from 1769 to 1798. The exact date when the Potloi was introduced in still unknown. Potloi was at first introduced as a dance costume for the very famous Raas Lila Dance form of the state.

Potloi is basically a cylindrical skirt which is based on the Ghagra dress that was worn by the women in Vrindavan. It comes in colors red, pink or green, it is worn with a velvety blouse and innaphi. It is hand embroidered with mirror work, brass pieces and shining embellishments.

The upper portion of the wedding Potlio differs with that of the Raas Lila Potlio.

In the olden days, fabric dipped in rice starch was used to achieve the stiffness and the cylindrical shape of the dress but in the modern times rubber sheets and cane are used to get the desired shape.

The Manipuri ethnic attire for men comprises of Kurta, Dhoti and Turban.KhamenChapta is worn by men belonging to the upper strata of society.The royal costume worn by the king ofManipur was referred to as Ningthoupee. Warriors wore an attire called Zamphie


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