Imagine a designer dress with absolutely no stitching, held together by a series of buttons and rubber bands. If this sounds like a do-it-yourself project, it is. Button Masala is designer Anuj Sharma’s revolution to help bring out the designer in you. Sharma’s method of dressmaking involves inserting buttons under the fabric and securing them with just a rubber band. By increasing the number of buttons and changing their placement, he can make complex patterns on the same garment.
“My style has always been finding new ways to make garments. With this method, production is easy and the wearer can also make changes. I have only one tailor and to be able to make many garments, the basic pattern needs to be simple,” explains the designer, who has never used sketches or measuring tapes for these ‘one size fits all’ dresses.
His students at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, which is where he is based, are forced to start with conventional methods.
“I teach them regular pattern making too, because to break convention, it’s important to understand it first. But I myself was pretty bad at draping when I was a student. It’s only after practice that I have polished my skills,” he grins. Sharma attributes his innovative designs to laziness. “My first collection was made by converting second hand shirts into dresses. I don’t like to work for six months on a concept like other designers. The Button Masala collection I figured out in a month, and then for the rest of my time, I did nothing. So my creativity is the outcome of laziness.”
His other innovation involves using simple knots on a length of fabric to create different drapes. He explains, “I realised that by making knots at certain places, I could change the shape of a garment. I didn’t exaggerate the shape of the knot so that people could replicate it themselves.”
No Patents Needed
Sharma refuses to patent his concepts despite sound advice from his colleagues. “Patenting goes against my very idea that design should be inclusive,” he says. “People say that others will misuse my ideas, but at least then they will be used.” His current concept uses buttons, but he is convinced that you could achieve the same effect if you used anything from pebbles to cigarette butts and bottle caps. “My idea is to bring out the creativity in the wearer. And there is no easier way in the world to make garments.”
Choose a length of fabric that will cover the body.
Remember to keep a little extra depending on the number of buttons you will be inserting.
Place the buttons under the fabric and using rubber bands, secure the buttons in place, starting with the pressure points from where the garment will hang.
To make a basic one-shouldered dress, you need a minimum of three buttons- one at the shoulder and one under each arm.
High quality nylon rubber bands can even be dry cleaned. You can even use thread though rubber bands are faster to knot.
Anuj Sharma’s collection retails at Zoya and Aza in Mumbai for Rs 6,000.