October 13, 2023 FDCI

Crafting a legacy

Working with renowned weaver Prasanta Basak to offer a new language of Indian clothing, Swatti Kapoor is hoping to elevate the humble salwar-kameez, with innovative substitutes in natural fabrics.

By Asmita Aggarwal

After graduating from NIFT in fashion design, Swatti Kapoor worked with Anuradha Kumra of FabIndia, but her innate desire to learn under the best, propelled her to work with Tarun Tahiliani, as a senior designer for almost five years.

In 2019, she launched the label, but only after seven years honing skills at Jaypore, and she did not let the lockdown dampen her spirits. Winning the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) competition, where her sketches won acclaim and a cash prize, there was no looking back in 2021. Today she retails from 23 stores worldwide, and has been motivated to uplift forgotten heritage-the central motive of her brand where craft meets construction and quality.

  

Learning the power of detailing from mentors, to trying to leave low carbon footprints, sustainability, she believes is an abused term today. “We keep purchasing mindlessly, and then talk of eco-consciousness, but my effort is targeted towards natural fabrics and saying ‘no’ to machine embroidery,” she affirms.

Working with chanderi and skilled block makers in Rajasthan, she sources organic khadi from Bengal, mixes it with cotton-silk, and in the future Jamdani is what she hopes to explore. “As a designer I have felt the need to invest in classics—’a Benerasi dupatta that I inherited from my grandmom kind of philosophy’. It can be worn over a dress, giving it a stature of timelessness,” he confirms.

 

The brand is not starting a “revolution” she says, but is slowly urging consumers to wear even a salwar-kameez interestingly, maybe with a scarf, or lungi pants, serenading them with deftly-built dhotis. These shapes are not trend-centric, and you can wear them inside out as the detailing is impeccable, she believes. “The product is forgiving in terms of shape, suitable for all body types, plus the luxe handwoven fabrics add undeniable character to your ensemble,” she says.

The journey to carving a niche has been tough, she shied away from brighter hues earlier, but this season it is a riot of colours, from rani pinks to peacock blues, in checks woven in Bengal. “We work with Prasanta Basak, born in Phulia village in West Bengal a family of traditional tangail saree weavers. He studied Textile Technology at Banaras. I work closely with him this year to create an intricate check pattern,” she explains.

The LFW line titled “Sahara” woos wanderlust, aimed at the global traveller, infused with Arabic influences, intensified with black. “I learnt bridal wear, but I was not interested in it, I realised what I didn’t want to do, so I narrowed down on what I would like to do. I don’t make anything, I personally won’t like to wear,” she says. Synthetic fabrics are not for her, so why should she sell it? was the refrain.

Starting out as a student in NIFT she dreamt big, hoping to retail internationally, mark a global presence, but today the domestic market is more important for her. “I want to explore Ikkat, Bagru and ajrak in the future, hold on to the legacy, I don’t want to sell a look, but a soulful product,” she concludes.

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