Legendary Venezuelan designer, Carolina Herrera once rightfully quoted, “I approach fashion as an evolution. It’s always changing. As you know, sometimes it changes in three months.” We couldn’t agree more; fashion has time and again proved to be such a dynamic medium of creative expression where you can only expect the unexpected. Fresh out of this year’s MET Gala theme of “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, we can confidently say that be it elements of quirk, whims, fantasy or inspiration from day to day life–fashion imitates free flowing water that takes the shape of the artist’s mind.
While the global fashion fraternity is rewriting norms, our Indian counterparts have their mind and heart in line to bring their A-game forward. What makes us the happiest is the fact that new generation of designers in India are nowhere near shy to experiment, and innovate with techniques and trends. They are the real rule benders who are pushing the boundaries to take Indian fashion to global platform. We speak to a few “cool kids” of fashion to know what goes behind their game changing acts.
Creative outlet of any form needs inspiration to drive it, to meet its desired expression. Designers are required to keep an open mind and an exhaustive thought process to avoid creative roadblocks. This generation of Indian designers is not hesitant to take the roads less travelled when it comes to seeking inspiration for their designs. Delhi-based designer, Abhinav Mishra has a special connection with Indian heritage and the influence is evident in all of his collections. Abhinav shares, “My design ideology is to amalgamate modern cuts with traditional embroideries and mirror work using pastel as well as bright colours. My aim with every collection is to visualise my muse as the modern Indian woman who is always evolving.” On the other hand, Mumbai-based designer Arpita Mehta seeks major inspiration from travel. She shares, “My inspirations come from the travel destinations. Wherever I go, I make sure to weave my experiences and adventures into my memories which I come back with. While designing, I mix these experiences and try creating styles that are perfect combinations of different fabrics, prints, and embellishments.”
Act of ethics
When talking about fashion, ethics is sure to come into the spotlight. The new age of Indian designers is awakening to true intentions– be it sustainable fashion, supporting local weavers or retaining authenticity. For instance, designer Purvi Doshi has always stood by the philosophy of sustainability since the time she started working on handspun fabric, natural colours, and hand embroideries. She has been awarded the ECO AGE brand mark in recognition of her work with artisans, training and educating designers, with an idea of preserving traditional crafts and support livelihoods.
Talking about ethical fashion, Abhinav says, “I strongly believe in staying original, revival of our Indian crafts and protection of our karigars. They deserve fair wages and work environment.” While sharing her views on originality of craft, adds Arpita, “I firmly believe in three things–firstly, build your own individual style, and not try to mimic somebody else or their style of work. Second, be aware of your buyer, their needs and desires so you can cater to them at the fullest. Lastly, one should be extremely honest with the product they are creating.”
Ramp to real
Heightened global influence, affordability and social media awareness have played instrumental roles in fashion. Abhinav says, “Over the years wearability has become key, with the advancement of digital channels, people want products faster and want to try more things. Increased exposure is contributing to this change. Designers are focusing on creating products that can be used in day to day life as well. Online platforms are allowing us to retail collections from the ramp almost right after a show and there is a huge market that wants a latest collection in their wardrobe.” Arpita adds, “Couture is meant for a certain niche, but for the rest of the people, wearability of ramp fashion is key especially in our country. Most people take into consideration factors such as practicality, comfort and convenience and these elements hold utmost importance to the consumers.”
Role of innovation
From techniques, design inspiration to experimenting with fabrics, detailing; innovation rides high in the fashion realm. Abhinav firmly believes that evolution of Indian fashion is all about innovation. In the past decade, Indian fashion witnessed innovation in silhouettes–traditional saris to drapes, motif exploration of embroideries– European and Aztec patterns are embroidered in traditional zardozi, to name a few. While Arpita explains that reinventing and evolving styles are essential to survive and prosper in this business. Designers are required to create something new and unique on a regularly basis so as to offer choices to customers. Innovation allows designers to use their imagination beyond boundaries to produce something that can completely revolutionise the scenario and help them make their mark.
Back in the day, the fashion industry was much smaller and a lot of work happened through word of mouth. Today’s digital age has made the industry way too competitive. People are more aware and discerning in their choices which is actually a great aspect about fashion. Competition has made designers work harder and create quality products that stand out. Also, young minds will continue to bring a new perspective and fresh energy to the scene. The landscape is far more exciting and it helps in innovating and creating a lot more than before.