Twice a year, the best of the Indian fashion industry gathers for Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai. The event celebrates innovation and experimentation in the Indian fashion scene, generating exposure for established names, as well newcomers.
And while there were plenty of traditional references, from Sonaakshi Raaj’s saris to Hardika Gulati taking inspiration from traditional Indian folklore, many of the designers offered a new vision for the modern Indian woman. Futuristic vibes came from sustainable brand Huemn, who created the brand’s collection of sharp, geometric silhouettes out of recycled fabrics, while Caprese x Jodi offered bright, elastic sportswear with a feminine twist.
Another modern designer is Shweta Kapur, whose AW17 collection married disco-inspired metallics with functional design. Culture Trip spoke with the designer about fashion in India, and how Lakmé Fashion Week is helping to present a new narrative on an international stage.
Culture Trip (CT): How have you seen the fashion landscape in India change in recent years?
Shweta Kapur (SK): It’s been a slow change, but over the last five years I’ve seen how the customers have evolved with their fashion choices which in turn has been encouraging for designers and stores to keep pushing themselves forward and actually create something original instead of hiding behind trends and age old silhouettes and techniques, which is their bread and butter. The young talent in the country have all studied or worked abroad, have an amazing international exposure and know exactly how things work and are not afraid of the retail challenges.
Most of us are in constant touch with our client base and are always teaching them on how to wear clothes and be experimental with their look, without looking like they are trying too hard. Beyond that, it’s also inspiring to see designers like Rahul Mishra take a fresh approach towards embroidery and make something so Indian so global. I’m against the whole pretentious brigade who blindly take fabrics from the weavers and blindly cut it into a loose kurta and call it ‘sticking to our roots’. Collaborations between fashion designers and textile designers is the need of the day and is what is going to really change the fashion landscape in the country.
CT: What are the most exciting and what are the most challenging aspects of launching and establishing a brand?
SK: Designing is the easiest thing to do. Owning a brand is not just about making clothes you like, but figuring out how you can make a business out of it. That includes managing a team, finances, branding everything. It’s hard to be focused on the true core of what you really want to do, because everyone and anyone gives you their two cents on how to run a business but it’s important to step back once in a while and see which direction you are going in. The most satisfying thing is to see a stranger on the streets wearing you and the challenging thing is to make sure you are getting a massive ROI.
CT: How would you describe your customers, what do they want?
SK: My customer is a woman who is always on the go. For that, she likes hassle free clothing that is easy to take care of, barely crushes so she looks fresh even after a day of running around, has pockets, and overall helps define her personality instead of drowning her in oversized silhouettes. She’s also eccentric, sexy, non-conformist and nomadic.
CT: What are your Lakmé Fashion Week highlights, and how do you feel the event helps your brand?
SK: I couldn’t have asked for a better platform than Lakmé to showcase our 10th collection. The response from buyers and media alike has been phenomenal and we are all overwhelmed with the love and support that has been pouring in. Priyanka Chopra wearing something straight off the runway was obviously a huge highlight, and so was getting the best names in the industry (Ishaan Nair, Savleen Manchanda and Deepti Sharma) together to shoot our campaign was pretty incredible.