October 13, 2018 Asmita Aggarwal

Hunger Games

Dang and Sahni, two opposing personalities create a line that explores the chasm between perception and reality; summer and autumn; romance and rugged and culminates with clothing which shines at the altar of a tug of war.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Two friends one goal. Sunayana Sahni studied accessory design from NIFT (Delhi) and Sahib Dang, fashion designing. They launched Esse or loosely translated to ‘essentials’, it also has two ‘SS’ for their combined names, a way to denote what they hope to offer—-luxury essentials last year. Sunayana went to do her masters at the London College of Fashion, while Sahib worked with Manish Arora and Shantanu & Nikhil to learn the business of fashion.

“I come from a business family and my parents loved to travel. The art, food, culture and architecture of distant lands stayed etched in my memory I can draw from when I am sketching or planning my collection,” says Sunayana. Her first foray in fashion was helping her carpet exporter father design rugs, which later veered towards clothes. “LCF was the same as NIFT, they just magnified what we wanted to do and taught us how to innovate, break down things and study them threadbare,” she adds.

From there comes the motivation to combine two heterogeneous materials—- leather with linen; hemp and dabka, lighter knits for summer even though it is considered a winter staple, two oddities on the same canvas. Or you can say creating tension between traditional and modern! “Millennials have the advantage of exposure and that’s why you see a shift in the way they perceive and process ideas giving rise to experimentation,” she says, adding that they do two labels, contemporary Indian and prêt-a-porter. “Both lines are dissimilar as our clothing attempts to understand your personality first and then dress your form. It is a bit like social unconditioning moving away from stereotypes,” she confesses.

SS’19 is seeing a resurgence of pastels which have been a constant on trend charts, which the duo has juxtaposed with black and white. The play is the way in which they have added metallic trims, elastic chords and moulded it to create corsets. “Hemp is eight times stronger than cotton, durable, UV resistant and has hypoallergenic qualities. A lot of designers don’t want to use it as it is the waste of the cannabis plant and has for many negative connotations, but we hope to change that slowly and surely,” she admits.


The techniques used include panelling, deconstruction (side seams), layering with subtle details in monochromes, nudes and rust with dashes of lilac and powder blues. “There is androgyny, but it’s mixed up with elegance to give it a feminine dimension. For example, our pants are very Japanese with draping, they come with a sophisticated top,” she explains.

Dishevelled romance is the central theme of the line, where young designers explore how minds are now increasingly chaotic and the only way to survive this is to be yourself, be unafraid to reveal the real you! Maybe dichotomies have been their mainstay as the first line was a tug of war between rugged and romantic creating an abstract elegance. “At NIFT, I worked with wax, wires, wool and acrylic so material exploration forms the foundation of our line, but at its core is functionality,” she says. Next stop for them a footwear line which will be an amalgamation of art and fashion.


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Fashion Design Council of India