October 11, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Culture Trip

Jenjum Gadi hopes to revive the magic of the reticent Galo tribe of Arunachal with wraps and sequins

By Asmita Aggarwal

From a small town to big city lights can be challenging for anybody, but Jenjum Gadi, from Tirbin, a small village in Arunachal Pradesh didn’t flinch before giving it all up and taking a sabbatical to renew, refresh and resuscitate. “It was very difficult in the beginning—-food, water, traffic, people, everything seemed horrible when I came to Delhi. In a few months I almost gave up and was thinking about going back home like some of my friends did. But I did survive and I can say now I love Delhi,” says Gadi, who is presenting after almost five years at the Lotus MakeUp India Fashion Week SS’20, in association with EbixCash.

This year he brings with him the flavour of North-East through its indigenous cuts and patterns. If you closely look, even if he attempts a simple kurta, it looks different because somehow his minimal aesthetics get represented there, consciously or unconsciously. The inspiration for this collection has come from various elements, the kind he associates with when it comes to clothing. It has glimpses of Japanese, mainland India, North-East, tribal tattoos, 80’s disco era, everything has come together to create this collection with a dash of street fashion vibe. “All my embroidery patterns for this collection were taken from our tribal shawls and women’s traditional wrap-around skirts, mostly the Galo tribe from Arunachal so you can see thread and golden sequin embroidery extensively used. As they are found in West Siang, Upper Subansiri, Dibang Valley, and Changiang districts of Arunachal Pradesh their culture revolves around lungi and rice,” he adds.

jenjum g

After living in Delhi for more than 13-14 years Gadi started missing home and got tired of dealing with city problems alone. He decided to pack up and move back. He shut his office here and figuring out what to do next, he could only think about a creative pursuit. “I opened a home and decor store, but after six months I missed the buzz and returned to Delhi. I did one good thing, I did not give up my studio making it easy to start again,” he recalls.

What added to his difficulty in adjusting was how many people from the North-East were discriminated. He remembers how a few years back a young boy from Arunachal was beaten to death in Lajpat Nagar. “He looked different as he had dyed his hair blonde. However, there are many good people here as well, even though I can’t point out any person who has greatly influenced my design journey. It was my sheer determination to move out of my village and do something other than a safe government job. I did what my heart told me to,” he admits.

Tired about the increasing talk of sustainability he thinks what needs to be addressed by fashion more is plagiarism. And not just designers but store owner, exhibition curators, fashion influencers everyone needs to work together as a team to counter this. “Recently Diet Sabya highlighted how a prestigious store was promoting a knock off of Anamika Khanna. We need to stop associating with brands who blindly copy others. Customers don’t know if they buy an original or copy, anymore so it is our duty as a whole to educate them. We really need to do this, if we respect fashion and not just think about making money,” he concludes.


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