October 12, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

God of Small Things

Simple living is a luxury for Suparna Som who’s Jamdanis are as crackling as her label’s philosophy

By Asmita Aggarwal

It was her first brush with Santiniketan weavers and artisans that fuelled her interest in textiles, when she saw how two woven saris can never be the same, as they were hand done, with that raw, edgy feel, and uneven tones which fascinated the NIFT Kolkata, leather design student.

When you meet or talk to 25-year-old Suparna Som, you immediately have a protective feeling, maybe it is her vulnerability or just her innocence that kind of surprises you, in a world full of deceit. Born and raised in the capital, Suparna, used to sketch since she was 10, and always wanted to do clothing. Even though she studied leather design, the classes for pattern cutting gave her a peek into what fashion entails. “Most of my learning is from my masters and weavers, like pleating details, developing fabrics and learning how to manipulate textiles,” she smiles.

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With not enough money to open a studio, Suparna’s full time job funds her label, and she is forced to outsource most of her work. If you look closely her Jamdani motifs on cottons are cool and so are the colour variations. She uses 100 counts of khadi as she believes remaining organic is the best.

“When I visited Santiniketan, and spoke to weavers, they were unhappy about the wages and lack of quality. That day I decided that if I ever launch my label, which I did this February, I will never allow a middleman or Mahajan, I will deal with them directly and encourage no bargaining or hidden profits. This is something I follow till today, you need to pay craftspeople well for them to perform efficiently,” she confesses.

Her association with AIFW started with her first big break with Gaurav Jai Gupta of Aakaro, when she assisted him in putting together his exhibition in 2013 and later with Bodice in 2014. “It felt great that Elle called us and invited us to showcase in the First Cut. I never thought I would ever get a chance on my own,” she smiles.

Her SS’18 line is as sorted as Suparna, it is all about going back and celebrating slow living, when people were not doing things in a rushed way and life was not so hectic. She has paid a tribute to two flowers that resonate with the spirit of West Bengal—hibiscus and Jasmine and named her line, “Phool Patta”. “Jasmine has a divine smell and is used as an ornamentation during weddings, while Hibiscus is used as an offering to Durga. Being a Bengali, I wanted some part of my culture included in my first line,” she admits.

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Though she admits the label’s ideology is focussed on looking back, the silhouettes are about looking forward, so the cuts are basic with hints of androgyny, going back to the time when life was relaxed and people valued small things like maybe a hand-written note. “I do believe that simple living is luxury, it has become obsolete now, but we all need to slow and calm down, including me,” she laughs.

The cuts may be minimal, but there is fine detailing that Suparna adds which makes the line romantic and sometimes feminine and in other times androgynous with Nehru kurtas and safari looks. “I am not looking for fame or money, I just want to do things my way, which may mean nothing in the big fashion world, but they mean so much to me and even if I find one ardent fan, I am happy to share the joy,” she concludes.

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