Shibori, Ikat, Jamdani their loves are many but the boys from NID, Amit Vijaya and Richard Pandav are moving towards Bihar and weaving magic.
By Asmita Aggarwal
How have you both grown since the time your started but professionally and personally?
Apart from the growth in our personal clothing sizes the overall changes have been good when we look back at where we started from. Meeting interesting people and doing great work with them is one of the driving factors…from the grassroots to the end users, this profession allows us to associate with a multitude of characters. The experience of being a part of various projects that allow us to draw meaning from and give meaning to lives and livelihoods, has been deeply enriching. Today we are at a place where we feel humbled but also a little proud of our achievements as designers as well as human beings. Overall we feel a little less of being “misfits” in this industry.
How important is the concept of sustainability for you and are designers who are claiming to be so are they really true to the cause?
We personally feel that sustainability is an important lifestyle choice and can’t be just active in certain areas of life – like fashion or clothing because then it doesn’t really mean much other than a tag. Having said this, we believe that sustainable practices are extremely important in every sphere especially today in the way the world is. All around us we see the buzz that the word ‘sustainable’ has created, and the way it has affected the design languages of labels that didn’t really have this to begin with. In a way it is great that a lot of designers today are on this bandwagon, however we hope that it isn’t just for being in trend. We often see a lack of knowledge or understanding packaged through big PR exercises to sell products under this tag…the products themselves would not fall even close to the sustainable model. For instance, a lot of “sustainable” brands are using Chinese made organza fabrics (not necessarily natural fibres) just because it is in trend for the coming seasons. This blind following of trends doesn’t bode well for the idea of slow and sustainable clothing.
How is your LMIFW an extension of your beliefs and displays your love for hand spun?
Elegance of simplicity, beauty of hand-made and indulgence of comfort has always been our brand mantra and it is something we adhere to with every line that we create. The SS’19 line “ME. SERENE” stays true to our beliefs. For this season we went back to our archives and worked on our classic shapes to bring them closer to our vision of clothing today. As always, the line has a very interesting mix of hand-loomed textiles in cottons, silks with our signature textures and patterns created through traditional hand-techniques.
What are the fabric innovations and manipulations that you have indulged in this time?
We have been very fortunate to have an opportunity to work with an NGO in Bihar that empowers men and women through traditional weaving and embroidery techniques. In this project, women have been trained to hand-spin cotton yarns on the peti charkha. We have had immense fun exploring this yarn to create a variety of textiles with great textural effects. For our silk and cotton blends from Chanderi, we have worked primarily with the concept of translucency with matt and shine in the creating of exquisite summer textiles. We have made use of the famed Jamdani technique from Bengal to create fine floral patterns on ultrafine muslins. For our signature Shibori patterns, this season we have played with origami folding techniques for creating interesting placements of the prints on the textiles, while keeping the colour palette quite muted. A special focus for this line is the hand-woven ultra-light sheer silks that we have developed for use in summer.
What’s more important to you in terms of form or function and what kind of clusters do you want to adopt and work with for a long time? Like you did with the kaladhera in Rajasthan?
The clusters and techniques we work with are a constant each season and not driven by trends. There is a conscious effort to make the relation mutually beneficial and help in sustaining the crafts. We make it a point to work with craftspeople in creating novelty each season keeping their skills and limitations in mind, while still trying to push the envelope each time. As a label we are always on the look-out for associating with clusters that are open to creative work of a certain quality standard and willing to learn and evolve. We already have quite a few clusters across the country that we work with constantly for our developments and production.
The Kaladhera project was a proud moment for us due to the fact that it allowed us to give back to the grassroots and empower people through a bit of our time and intervention. We are currently working on a project with clusters in Bihar, where we help with our design intervention and experience in developing a range of saris and textiles among other products to create a viable and sustainable future for the craftspeople and associates. This is another project extremely close to our hearts for a number of reasons.
As a brand what would you say is your strongest identity?
Richard and I are too closely associated to answer this question unbiased. We asked people who know and follow the brand to give us their opinions. Quality and elegance were the two words that we got back a lot along with the statement that we were a brand that offers handloom in a chic avatar.
Why do you think most women today are adopting handlooms is a fad that will fade away? Also how have colours changed for you this season and also what looms have you extensively worked with?
We hope that the awareness and love for hand-loomed fashion is not a trend and that it will carry on through the efforts of at least a few serious design labels. For Amrich: it is a constant work in progress to entice more and more users to hand-made and hand-loomed textile products. After the last couple of seasons of our signature high contrast ensembles, this season we wanted to tone the palette down to a softer approach. In a way this is a refresher for us, which includes colours like ecru, cream, sunset orange, mint, blush etc. There has been a conscious decision to offer a more muted line in our signature shapes and textiles.
What will be the future of your brand and how close are you to your final goal?
We are a brand that believes in an organic growth process and hope to be working closely with more and more crafts across the country to offer products in addition to clothing. We don’t see ourselves at all close to a final goal as this is something that keeps evolving.
As young designers what are the biggest challenge you face thematically and financially?
Challenges are a constant in this industry. Be it logistics, finances, or production issues. Having come into the arena of doing fashion weeks regularly, it helps the brand to get organised as well as to get noticed, however, the financials involved is a constant pressure to live up to.
What makes you different from many designers who are making handloom specific clothing?
We work with developing our textiles from the fibre stage and this allows us to offer the variety and quality that the label is known for. It also allows us to engineer our developments for the kind of clothing that we believe in. It is a constant endeavour to offer clothing in hand-loomed textiles that is elegant and chic and quite fuss-free. Hand-loomed textiles have their beauty, but also have a lot of limitations that some might regard as faults. We however, work with the limitations and make a conscious effort to keep a check on quality as well as creating awareness and educating our clientele through our work about the irregularities associated with hand-made products and their intrinsic beauty.
How much handlooms do you personally have in your wardrobe?
About 80% of our personal clothing is made with hand-loom textiles.