Men and women in the metro have become fashion-conscious, writes B. MADHU GOPALA look around the busy junctions like Dwarakanagar, Siripuram, Jagadamba and Ramakrishna Beach reveals that the guys and gals of the metro do not lag much behind other metros when it comes to catching up with the latest trends in fashion.The MNC culture has brought a sea change in the attitudes of not only youth but also older men and women. People no longer seem to be weary of going back home after a hard day's work. Gen X is now tuned to withstand the pressures of working in shifts round the clock. A vast majority of them, deservedly, utilise the weekends to party and indulge in social activities to de-stress themselves.Middle-aged men and women frequenting clubs and pubs has become a familiar sight. When it comes to dressing themselves up, people no longer seem to be unduly worried about the price but are more concerned about the `look good' factor.Light cottons with floral prints and croche work, white cotton kurtas with mukaish work and white tops are the hot favourites of the Spring Summer 07 collection, says Anita Pawar of Prapancha."Hand-painted earrings in terracota and handbags made with natural fibre in bright colours are selling like hot cakes. When I opened Prapancha five years ago, I had to explain to customers about the latest trends. Now fashion consciousness has increased and people do not mind spending more to stay in tune with the latest trends," she says."There is a growing interest among both middle-aged men and women about fitness. A high percentage of this group are increasingly frequenting fitness centres and gyms and this is a healthy trend for us (boutique owners). Housewives are seeking advice on dressing up after losing weight to impress their husbands," she adds.With middle-aged men and women joining the youth in going to the pubs and clubs, there is great demand for party wear. The demand for fashionable clothes is so high that sometimes boutiques are not able to cater to the demand. "Linen materials are the latest craze this summer. Our own khaddar material is also doing fine. The upper segment goes for Irish linen and European linen for its extra smoothness. Whites and light shades are the preferred colours for this summer," says the store manager of Wills Lifestyle, Shiv Kumar.The brand has registered a 40 per cent growth in sales last year compared to the previous year and this year an additional growth of 35 per cent is expected. This reflects the changing attitude of men towards fashion and their desire to catch up with the latest trends.Stripes and plains are the in thing for shirts, pin stripes and lycra are the preferred choice for trousers. Khadi has also caught the fancy of fashion conscious youth. "Khadi sales have registered a 30 per cent increase last year compared to the previous year and production has been increased by 17 per cent," says the Divisional Director in charge of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Krishna Swamy. KVIC has introduced a new scheme PRODIP (Product Development and Design Intervention for Marketability). An agreement was reached with the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Ahmedabad, and four designers have been appointed in Hyderabad to bring out new designs in tune with the latest trends."The new khadi designs are expected to be available at the showrooms by April 15. This apart, cottons and muslin from Bengal, muslin from Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Ponduru fine varieties are already available at the showrooms," he says."Short kurtis with embroidery and embellishment and jeans, traditional cotton salwars and long cotton skirts are the preferred choice of girls. Older women are also preferring jeans, salwars and kurtis stitched with Venkatagiri and Mangalagiri textile materials to traditional saris," says the director of Queenz Institute of Fashion S. Shanu Aravinda."Light pinks, light pinks and earthy shades are the colours to sport this summer. Fashion awareness has increased and people want to look more stylish and smart ," she says. Apart from being fashionable, Khadi and cottons also offer a cool option to withstand the sultry weather.Go ahead make a fashion statement this summer.