Lockdown: Not a hindrance to designer’s creativity

The lowdown on how designers are gearing up for the coming seasons
Sunil Sethi, Chairman, Fashion Design Council of India.(Photo: Sarang Gupta/HT)
Sunil Sethi, Chairman, Fashion Design Council of India.(Photo: Sarang Gupta/HT)
Updated on Apr 20, 2020 09:07 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Manish Mishra

The FDCI-led LMIFW (which was slated to be held in New Delhi in March) got cancelled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Internationally, Met Gala, cruise shows for global brands like Gucci and Prada, besides the Paris Couture week have been put off the fashion calendar given the grim reality of coronavirus. However, this is the best time to let one’s creative flag fly high, reignite one’s imagination, put one’s pencil to the sketch pad and conjure a fashionable future.

When the going gets tough, the tough get stylish. Sunil Sethi, Chairman, FDCI recalls, “I was very disappointed to read that Met Gala (which was slated to be held in May) and Paris couture week got cancelled besides the Olympics. If they are not happening, you could well imagine my plight as I have just postponed one season.”

Mr Sethi is still holding his bookings at the Taj Hotel in New Delhi for India Couture Week slated to be held in July. He adds, “My personal wish is to come out of this gloom with flying colours. India Couture week will be great for customers at large by July end. According to me, it’s too early to cancel that as well.”

Being someone who always sees the glass half full, Mr Sethi hopes that the three month-long time duration is good enough duration to recover. “I am hoping that Indian couture doesn’t leave this opportunity to create some magical pieces at their studio by working at home. I hope our designers churn out new ideas everyday. We are praying that the couture week takes place and designer should be ready to hit the market with their new lines when the season starts. Let’s use this time to let one’s creative process realise one’s full potential. Since the government has allowed partial work in factories, designers should utilise this time to the best of their ability,” Mr Sethi advises.

Adapt and watch buying patterns

Couturier Anamika Khanna says, “These are uncertain times and no answer can be perfect. Most of us will have to adapt and adjust as we go along, not just production plans, but also wait and watch buying patterns. At this moment, I’m letting the creative juices flow freely and not binding myself down to anything, it’s more about creativity just for its own sake. Having said that, there are numerous thoughts on repricing, and about the fact that timelessness and quality will be of supreme importance.”
Currently, Anamika is working on a second edition of the AK OK collection, which will comprise of easy and relaxed pieces. “Regarding the wedding season, it is very difficult to set anything in stone, as one is not sure how the weddings will pan out. The weddings of course have all got postponed and even if they do happen, may not be large affairs. One definitely needs to rethink as it comes. Work at the moment for the artisans is also at a halt. Partial permissions for our factories are not effective as yet, as we don’t fall in the certain required categories, along with the fact that the artisans are all in their hometowns and are not able to travel yet. We are happy to comply with whatever it needs to stay safe and keep everyone around safe, so for now, it’s work from home,” adds Anamika.

Time for rigorous research

Designer Rahul Mishra is focusing his energies on rigorous research and development for the next collection. “With help of available technology, our design team is working on new techniques and applications that should assist us in creating a significant amount of employment for local craftsmen right after we resume. This purpose of ours that helps us delve deeper into our brand philosophy, shall be fulfilled with garments that are made with couture sensibilities. While we like to believe that our designs are relevant to a woman in India, Japan or France equally, we’re hoping to create a collection with a variety of silhouettes and styles. The creative stimuli is high and we are aiming to create our best ever work through this otherwise difficult time.”

He adds, “We are working towards creating our best collection so far, in terms of the aesthetic and emotional value. We aim for our clothes to be a response to the crisis with rays of positivity, hope and beauty. All those who’s weddings have been postponed due to the lockdown, shall be looking to tie a knot some time after but, with new sensibilities towards relationships and luxury. We are aiming to create fashion with ultimate craftsmanship and more inclusivity along with a human touch of personal emotions. While we are aware that several of our workers shall be looking forward to resuming work as soon as possible, many of them reside in localities that are still volatile. There can be a larger risk to their personal health if the workspaces are reopened without suitable planning. Our team is working on the management of resources and upgrading our safety measures before they can open for work. Even if we do, we’re hoping to at first, produce cloth masks to contribute to the government before we begin with our production. Difficult times such as this tend to demand aptitude for both, compassion and business.”

Planning for seasons ahead

Designer Sonam Modi of label SVA is currently ideating on how to move forward post the lockdown. “We are working towards the upcoming season. The autumn winter festive line, and a bridal collection are in the pipeline. Our factories are not operational yet, as the places that are artisans stay are in containment. But we hope as soon as the lockdown ends, things will pick up pace. Production will resume, and we have planned to first complete all orders that were stopped due to the lockdown, and then continue with development of new styles for the festive lines,” says she.

Pocket-friendly bridal pieces

Designer Nikita Mhaisalkar has decided to launch a classic and easy-on-pocket range for brides-to-be and their families comprising mostly of separates. “These pieces shall be classic and minimal. We have chalked out a plan where with minimal physical contact, we will be distributing raw materials and sketches to the masters and embroiderers. We plan to do video sessions once a day with karigars and explain them the work which needs to be done so they stay on the same page in terms of production.”

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