March 15, 2024 FDCI

Simple Weaves

Gaurav Jai Gupta takes you on a journey to watch a Wes Anderson film through his ingenious weaving techniques, blazing ochres and endearing ‘kinji’ saris in ‘Moonrise’.

 Asmita Aggarwal

When you must fight for everything you get, you take nothing for granted, and sometimes that story of struggle becomes a lighthouse for others. The fashion industry is an isolated space, where some are unable to hustle, but when you choose to create on your own terms without diluting your brand ethos succumbing to market demands or financial constraints you are a winner of sorts.

“I am not a gimmicky designer where I am telling stories through Insta videos to capture the fancy of GenZ. My story telling is restricted to my shows, and in art the story lies in the abstraction,” says Gaurav Jai Gupta founder Akaaro. His work is layered, and he believes as he is not an activist and neither into hectic advertising, the brand sticks to what it knows best—-dressing intense, powerful women with a mind of their own. “If you look at art, the products tell the story and you connect with it instantly,” he explains.

Textiles, quality, and tailoring has been Akaaro’s mainstay not settling for mediocrity to serenade a fleeting audience, his training in textiles and weaving has helped him hold his own. “Textiles are my DNA and I do not know anything else, what I did in college is what I have continued till today and in some ways, couture is continuity isn’t it?” he asks.

His LFW 2024 line is about innovation in textile, with heavier cottons, to muslin, hoping to craft ensembles which are both functional and urbane. His classic “kinji” or stretch one of the brand’s archival fabrics which he has been working with for the last 15 years, with pleating is perfect for this season’s exaggerated sleeves, volume, detailing and big shoulders.

The conversation has been how to market handlooms in a modern way to a younger more unpredictable audience, so there are denim finishes on handlooms, chambray used as denim, khadi as denim, with detailed stitch lines and oversized clothing. “This time I would say there is a bit more ‘fashion’ in my clothing,” he smiles. To add to this mix is ruching and metallics, puffer jackets, skirts, tops with a global vibe where luxury meets craft.

Gaurav has used threadwork, surface texturing only when he needs to, but till today he is known for his metallic saris, where even now there is a waiting, along with his outerwear—tailored trench coats and nifty capes. The pandemic had taken its toll on designers, many were forced to shut down or downsize, rethink their brand identity, and despite not being a bridal label Akaaro was able to sustain the storm. “I look at fashion as a maker, what is my potential, there is a need to always elevate creative processes. Unfortunately, India does not recognize pure talent, it has a Capitalist way of looking at success, totally dependent on your balance sheets,” he admits adding that dressing Bollywood stars or red carpet has never been his end game. “Frankly, we are confused as a society, and have let ‘stars’ decide our future,” he adds.

What makes him happy today is the evolution of women in this space, their astute understanding of textiles, their experimental attitude, buying power, exposure, and clarity of thought. As Gaurav is a master of bespoke tailoring, he has been working on his version of a bridal line of saris, keeping his brand language in mind—a bit of kinji palla saris, stretch which is built in the weave. These are different from his linen, metallic blends, that have a loyal fan following.

LFW X FDCI 2024 story resembles a Wes Anderson palette that he had taken to a New York trade show recently. The yarn that was wasted, the warp was reused to create checks —-ochre, muddy reds, blues, pinks, and ivory, along with colour blocking, that’s why the LFW collection 2024 is titled “Moonrise”.

It was fascinating how yarn wastage can be converted into a full collection and the theme of capturing the moon through its 16 stages has its own perceptions. “Ignition point of any line is curiosity and as my brand’s tagline has always been ‘look within, seek within’,” he confesses.

Working at his own pace, and not succumbing to the pressures of feeding the social media “monster”, he feels technology has to be used sparingly, and the fundamental question for those with massive followers is how can 3 crore people like everything you do? The ball is up in the air on this one.

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