Repairing and resurrecting is the theme of Kanika Goyal’s aut-winter line as she tells us why scars—both metaphysical and just plain physical are precious.
By Asmita Aggarwal
Human psychology meets art movements, meets typography! And then you can add a dollop of abstract art, it would seem a bit chaotic…but Chandigarh born Kanika Goyal, believes that paradoxes work quite well, and also seem harmonious.
Based on the concept of Kintsugi or Kin (broken) and tsugi (repair) where you join fragments of broken pottery and give them a new lease of life, with a little help from liquid gold or silver as well as some lacquer dusted with gold powder. This is the theme of Goyal’s aut-winter 2018 line, as the Japanese believe just because it is broken doesn’t mean you need to discard it or it is useless, it can be resurrected. It is a bit like the saying by Rumi…the wound is from where the light seeps in.
So these scars whether they are on pottery or in our life also are a mark of our experiences—- they must be cherished. The Kintsugi technique, archaeologists say may have been invented around the fifteenth century, when Ashikaga Yoshimasa, broke his favourite cup and wouldn’t let go. The Japanese found a way to make it more ornate by adding a bit of bling and also giving it longevity by repairing it, giving rise to this ancient process.
“I stumbled upon this while researching about art informel, or Tachisme which is derived from the French work tache or stain, used in the 40s and 50s, where you have spontaneous blobs of paints or some done directly through tubes on the canvas making it more gestural than structured painting. Abstraction has strong lines, just like my label, so it seemed like a perfect fit,” she says.
Though it has been a long journey for Goyal to reach where she is after three years starting her label at the age of 25 in Shahpurjat, after coming back from Parsons where she did a course in fashion design, which she left for after completing space and lifestyle design from NIFT (Delhi).
She started her small shop, 500 square feet in Shahpurjat and took the help of the landlord to find tailors and started with two machines. “I came from a joint family, with my father being in real estate, where 17 people lived under one roof, to being absolutely on your own, in Delhi trying to tell your dad you have taken the right decision. So when young designers are scared to start on their own and they come to me for advice, I tell them my story— when I had to ask my dad to help me rent a studio and how he gave me one month to figure my life out. I urge them to take the plunge,” she laughs.
Parsons opened up Goyal’s perspective to a new kind of world, a world where she was taught Italian tailoring by an 88-year-old passionate professor, and she also enrolled for a session where they taught her men’s tailoring. “You can’t use those techniques here as no one will pay that much for a coat,” she confesses. She also interned under Bibhu Mohapatra (did five seasons with him) to Marchesa (draping) and Prada (visual merchandising).”I spent my summer breaks during NIFT constructively, as I would look for internships where I could learn. From Reebok to working with a Kanpur-based company that made bags for Celine and LV, to Unistyle Image and Kazo, I went everywhere to soak in all aspects of running a business. I was working at Prada’s epicenter stores (there are only four in the world), and their sheer size is intimidating. The back end operations helped me understand packaging and merchandising and being independent in a big city, is really quite empowering,” she admits.
Coming from Chandigarh, Goyal, admits that architecture has been one of the focal point in all her lines, even now when she is showcasing after two years. This time the attempt is to break misconceptions about tailoring through asymmetrical lines, playing with depths and weights of fabrics, mixing fluidity with rigidity, making each ensemble dynamic. The typography in her line comes from observing how young interns in her office look at life, that’s why you find words emblazoned on tees, “Scandal” to “Controversy”, it’s new-age and irreverent and totally fun with that hipster vibe.
“I have used many elements in my garments from colour blocking, panelling, holographics, to a mix from polyester to line, faux fur and knits to create an absolutely new texture. We have made jump suits, added A-line skirts, and strong outerwear, embellished most of our garments with beads and used both geometric and floral prints,” she explains.
Goyal also does a diffusion line that is a blend of Indian and Western, titled Ease, with embellished shift dresses, but confesses that she won’t do a sari, ever as that isn’t her aesthetic. “Even though I know that selling a sari for Rs 1 lakh in the Indian market is easier than a gown for that price,” she smiles.
Goyal hopes to cross the borders and take her label to the New York Fashion Week, start her long time passion for making furniture next year and also focus a bit more on her leather accessories line. “We do get clients from all over the world, so we launched our e-commerce line last year which was a game changer as it gave us enormous visibility. And during demonitization, we really saw a hike in sales, I want to develop that further,” she concludes.