A farmer’s son, Badal Kumar undertakes a heroic trek from Buxar to the arch lights of the wilderness called Delhi and creates a line that must be lauded one stitch at a time.
By Asmita Aggarwal
He would walk seven kilometres everyday to reach his open air school where he sat on the cold ground and studied; there were no buses or cycles available, not even a pucca road to navigate.
Growing up in the dustbowl Buxar (Bihar), from a small village Katariya, Badal Kumar of the new label Tiso Ghari was known to carry his tool kit wherever he wandered. That’s why his mom used to often say in Bhojpuri, “Tiso Ghari (tiso means tis (30) and gharimeans phases of day or time) all the time you do only one thing,” he remembers. These words stuck in his impressionable mind, and when Badal launched his label in 2015, with his student Bhoomi Modi, he used his mom’s admonishment as blessings for an auspicious start.
“I come from a place where there is no electricity, I studied in the light from a diya and it was my mom, who pushed me to leave the confines of a small town and try my luck at designing,” says Badal. After NIIFT (Northern Indian Institute of Fashion), Mohali he went to work with Anuj Sharma of Button Masala, then he interned with Rahul Mishra and Himanshu Shani of Celldesign (he did a project called “100% handmade” with the brand 11.11 clothing, in collaboration with Apang Manav Mandal). “Designing is similar to cooking as perfection, balance and accuracy is needed in ingredients of cooking and designing,” he admits.
With no exposure to magazines, catwalks, TV shows, social media or any kind of impetus that would make him a designer, Badal recalls how his mother used to stitch the family clothes and he was never privileged enough to get market bought toys to play with, so he decided to make his own. “I learnt creativity from an early age whether it was toys or getting things done in a village, with few means at my disposal,” he adds.
However, God’s gift to him was painting, he often embroidered and painted and seeing the intricacy of work, his brother-in-law advised him to try his talent in designing. His sharp intellect made him a winner at mathematical precision pattern-making.
The technique that Tiso Ghari uses is “drawn thread” which is the removal of either warps or weft or both the yarns from the fabric and tying them in different styles. An extra thread is used to tie the remaining yarns in the fabric. “Various twist and turns of thread is experimented on the yarns. The yarns are also properly locked with tight tension, to maintain durability and to keep the designs in place. Variation with the space and length (i.e. either on grain or off grain) is practiced according to the design of garment,” he explains, adding the process is so complicated the silhouettes are deliberately kept minimal yet they are asymmetric with strong patterns.
“I was conducting a pattern making workshop at an institute where I met Bhoomi. At that time she was working on the drawn thread technique for her annual fashion show. She showed it to me, I was awestruck by the beauty and intricacy of this technique. We soon decided to work together. Frankly, I haven’t seen anything like this in fashion, so far even though the hemstitch exists, we do it differently,” he confesses.
Badal and Bhoomi also refrain from embellishments, embroidery or printing as they let the stitches do all the talking. “My next foray will be to do something that is home to Bihar where I grew up, Madhubani paintings and Bhagalpur silk. But I have realised that for any idea to fly it needs funding and financially I need to build muscle. I am a farmer’s son, I have zero resources; my only asset is intelligence and the capacity to ideate. Mass production will have to be ruled out, and to survive I think, I will choose simplicity over glamour,” he concludes.