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MUMBAI, India — Lakmé Fashion Week wrapped up here Tuesday with a day focused on one of fashion’s key materials: textiles.
Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who has worked extensively with pure Indian fabrics, told a panel that, “I always believe in having pride in what is Indian. There are always more and bigger markets. Today, it’s about how education can help bridge this gap. One of the biggest problems at this time is the over-commercialization of handicraft. We’re always looking for bigger and better and faster and finally all the craft will get bastardized. It’s important to keep the focus.“
Other designers on the panel included Krishna Mehta and Bibhu Mohapatra (who was showing at the event for the first time in India and was here from New York). It was moderated by Maximiliano Modesti, a fashion entrepreneur based between Paris and Mumbai for the past 15 years.
“The new generation of designers has forgotten what it is to have their own weaves. I believe in it immensely,” Mehta observed, talking about cutting through the “synthetic haze”. “It’s high time there is some recognition about this issue. The market is opening up now in a way that it never was. We’re still being bombarded with polyester. It’s easy for designers to make the change from the top.”
Mehta retails in 30 stores in India and in Europe.
Modesti, who has sources for French luxury houses in France commented, “I have been in textile rich countries from South America to Asia but there is no country like India. It is unique and cannot be compared with any other place for the quality of embroidery and fine craft. This is what luxury is all about now and India is all about the passion of its craft.”
Seth Petchers, chief executive of Shop for Change Fair Trade, who is working on the concept of fair trade in fashion and was on the panel, said “When we talk about roots of textiles in India, we have to talk about cotton,” he said. “What a travesty it would be if the next generation of farmers moved away from growing cotton.” Some of the well-known brands that work through his organization to help ensure that this does not occur include Color Plus and designer Anita Dongre.
Darshan Shah, founder of the Weavers Studio, said, “Fashion now is going through a very dangerous phase. Now that we have technology at our doorstep we can make a narrative, a sharing and use this as a holistic experience.
Later in the day, a group of Indian designers showed off collections using only Indian textiles.
Dongre had Fifties-style dresses, while Vaishali Shadangule used Khand, a traditional Maharashtrian handloom, and Farah and Firdos used Bhagalpur silk.
Mohapatra, who launched his first collection at New York Fashion week in February 2009, brought 36 of his designs to show in Mumbai. “I would like to present a collection which would work directly with Indian craftsmen,” he commented. Asked what makes his line stand out and work globally, he replied, “I think it is an understanding of color and heritage. That’s what makes my clothes into a global brand.”