Designer Rina Singh on Eka’s latest dream-like collection, democracy in fashion and why sustainability requires a longer conversation
Designer Rina Singh of Eka talks about her latest collection that transpired in the quaint Aru valley of Kashmir, sustainability in fashion, her latest collaboration with UNIQLO and more. Read on.Updated: Sep 12, 2019 16:18 IST
There is something about fairytales. Some we manage to discover and some remain in the many unnoticed things and places around us waiting to be discovered. There is always something beautiful enough in the nostalgic domain that we keep going back to and bring back some imprints from the unknown into the living world.
Designer Rina Singh whose label Eka is known for her rooted simplistic sensibilities and versatility in terms of wearability across cultures and body types ventures into the realm of fantasy with her latest AW 2019 collection that revisits the resonant and fragrant folklores that live deep in our hearts.
Singh’s label Eka’s Autumn-Winter 2019 collection is a beautiful mix of feminine silks and voluminous wool that takes one back to the imaginary world of those many folklores, and brings back the old –school charm of how young girls while growing up imagined a world of their own, with their own tales of all things beautiful and pure. The Aru Valley of Kashmir has inspired the collection and Singh lived a dream with open eyes and discovered a soulful narrative of freedom sprinkled with nostalgia.
Says Singh, “Women or girls across the world and especially the ones who I chose to work with as my muses for my recent collection have a strong character. They live with utmost honesty and yet they were adventurous and independent. Given another opportunity to study more and grow they would flourish. They had a very strong voice. So for me putting a lot of weightage on women in society is very important. They are the storytellers and carry the burden of culture on their shoulders and also the leaders into the future.
In an exclusive interview, the designer talks about her latest collection that transpired in the quaint Aru valley of Kashmir, sustainability in fashion, her latest collaboration with UNIQLO and more. Excerpts from the interview:
-What were the key elements from your travels to the Aru Valley that inspired the collection? How the vintage folklores transpired into your AW collection?
I met three sisters in the Aru valley, Kashmir- Zeenat, Aabu and Sairat. Flawless, feminine, beautiful, fearless and wild. The sisters lived in a charming, isolated home in the valley.They had a sense of character, integrity, value system and were content with where they were.
I daydreamed and let the sisters have a day of adventure out in the valley, I gave them colourful clothes, make-up, ornaments from their mothers’ treasure chest, long airy robes, light flirty layers, sunshine on their faces, and hair flowing with the wind. Wandering the countryside. Free uninhibited and wild. That’s how my collection came about.
-You have recently announced an interesting collaboration with Uniqlo for a range of kurtas that can be worn across ages, races and preferences. What are the key highlights?
The Kurta is India’s day dress for years now. It is timeless, extremely democratic and functional- aligning it perfectly with the UNIQLO LifeWear philosophy. It can be layered or paired with jackets or trousers. The possibilities are endless.
The design teams at UNIQLO and I were inspired to create a new version of the Kurta, made for a progressive woman. We envisioned a layered outfit that could be worn with other everyday coordinates across all age groups, be it a 50-year-old woman or a young girl at 24 years. Given its versatility with sizes, shapes and material, we believe that the Kurta is a democratic shape that could be offered to women across the world and its innate functionality was a step in that direction.
-What are the key elements in sustainable fashion right now and why?
Sustainable fashion is not meant to be trendy. To discuss sustainability we require a longer conversation and more context building. By just saying that the new trends are- buy less wear more, or buy natural fibers and natural dye or only use say no to dry cleaning, it won’t be correct. Only focusing on clothing can’t be sustainability. It needs a bigger conversation. Clothing with your lifestyle and with your everyday choices could be worth discussing. But needless to say one should do their bit and of course contribute to the environment by doing everything and anything in their capacity.
-What’s your take on the new-age consumer? How well do they know what they want and has it worked in a good way for the design industry?
The good thing is that new consumers are experimental and open to ideas. They are mostly driven by pop culture and other high street brands. New age consumers for me are women who have evolved in their choices, who have explored fashion and are settled in their choices. They don’t edit their wardrobe basis what’s happening around the world, they edit in accordance with their needs and their present focus- mind, body or lifestyle. There is a kind of democracy in fashion today. The new consumer is self-aware, well-travelled, they are meeting new people and are conscious of their respective personalities and they are making purchase decisions according to that.
Once your buying practice is more meaningful and mindful, I think that goes a long way. So even if you buy a pair of pants that’s you, you end up wearing it a lot many times. Likewise, these consumers are very experimental with shapes. They are not very rigid or inhibited. My women are very thoughtful and meaningful in their lifestyle choices.
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