Fash­ion for All

Samir Alam analy­ses the new pos­si­bil­i­ties in In­dian fash­ion af­ter the di­lu­tion of Sec­tion 377 by the Supreme Court of In­dia.

Apparel - - Contents -

Analysing the new pos­si­bil­i­ties in In­dian fash­ion af­ter the di­lu­tion of Sec­tion 377 by the Supreme Court of In­dia

WHILE KISH­MISH GAR­MENTS ARE EASY TO WEAR, THE EX­PE­RI­ENCE OF WEAR­ING THEM IS EX­TENDED BY THEIR VER­SA­TIL­ITY.

par­tic­u­lar gar­ment as a fab­ric is gen­er­ally used for de­sign­ing just one gar­ment of its type. The same de­sign may ap­pear in dif­fer­ent colours of a par­tic­u­lar fab­ric or in dif­fer­ent fab­rics. The fab­rics are stocked at the stu­dio at Simla House, Na­pean Sea Road, Mum­bai, for clients to browse for cus­tomised or­ders as well as at the work­shop at Tardeo, Mum­bai, where the master tai­lor and the team of tai­lors stitch gar­ments. The cot­ton fab­rics are washed be­fore de­sign­ing to check for shrink­age and colour fast­ness.

The stu­dio presents col­lec­tions from time to time. They have dresses in stan­dard and non­stan­dard sizes as well as free sizes for those who have a dif­fer­ent body struc­ture. Apart from the col­lec­tions, they also de­sign gar­ments specif­i­cally for clients. About 50 per cent of their gar­ments are made-to-or­der, which works well for them. The gar­ments are re­tailed at the stu­dio at Simla House as well as at En­sem­ble, Me­lange and Bun­ga­low 8 in Mum­bai, Good Earth in Mum­bai and Delhi, Bom­baim in Kolkata, and Cin­na­mon and Rain­tree in Ben­galuru. In a spe­cific city, dif­fer­ent col­lec­tions are sent to dif­fer­ent stores so that within a city, cus­tomers see a dif­fer­ent col­lec­tion at each out­let.

GAR­MENT RANGE

The Kish­mish la­bel fea­tures pants, blouses, shirts, kur­tas, over­lays and dresses of dif­fer­ent styles, sur­face tex­tures (smock­ing, pleats) and sleeves (sleeve­less, short, long and kaf­tan sleeves). Shift dresses form the greater part of the prod­uct range. Some dresses are dou­ble-lay­ered for an in­ter­est­ing look, yet they can also be worn sep­a­rately.

While Kish­mish gar­ments are easy to wear, the ex­pe­ri­ence of wear­ing them is ex­tended by their ver­sa­til­ity. The shift dresses can be worn by them­selves as a western gar­ment or they can be teamed with a churi­dar for an In­dian look. By adding ac­ces­sories such as a scarf or jew­ellery, the gar­ment changes its look from of­fice wear to evening wear. “Our clas­sic colours tend to be a clas­sic va­ri­ety of kora, char­coal, black, deep red, indigo and khaki with our sig­na­ture red touches. For the fes­tive sea­son, we do a range of cheer­ful bright colours. In the sum­mer, the gar­ments are of pas­tel colours and in the win­ter of deeper, darker colours.”

THE POTLA POTLI COL­LEC­TION

Dur­ing the cut­ting of gar­ments, small sec­tions of fab­ric of reg­u­lar and ir­reg­u­lar shapes and sizes are in­vari­ably left over. These are col­lected and sorted by colours and shades at the work­shop and stored in dif­fer­ent potlis (cloth bags). One day, when the master tai­lor was free, Nikki and Rekha de­cided to go through the potlis and see­ing the won­der­ful range of fab­rics, they de­cided to use them. These bags thus be­came re­sources for cre­at­ing bor­ders, cuffs and plack­ets on gar­ments. The next step in­volved cre­at­ing patch­work sec­tions with fab­rics of a par­tic­u­lar type such as stripes and of a colour fam­ily for front and back yokes. The sub­se­quent step was cre­at­ing en­tire gar­ments with patch­work, thus trans­form­ing the re­cy­cling ef­fort into up­cy­cling.

De­sign­ing an en­tire gar­ment with scrap fab­rics is far more dif­fi­cult to de­sign and stitch than a gar­ment crafted from sin­gle yardage, as the de­sign­ers have to en­sure that the dif­fer­ent scraps are in sync with each other and then the gar­ment has to be de­signed with care us­ing these sec­tions for dif­fer­ent parts such as the col­lar or shoul­der of a shirt. Fur­ther, the tai­lor has to en­sure that there is no puck­er­ing where the seams are made. For com­fort of wear­ing, the sec­tions are stitched with the flat pleat. In some cases, only the wearer knows of an up­cy­cled strip of cloth as it is stitched as an in­ner lin­ing or placket, giv­ing it a per­sonal sur­prise el­e­ment.

In­for­mally ask­ing a tai­lor to take out a strip of cloth from a par­tic­u­lar potli in­ter­est­ingly led to the name of an en­tire col­lec­tion called Potla Potli Col­lec­tion! By its very na­ture, each gar­ment in the col­lec­tion is unique. These gar­ments have re­duced waste cloth dras­ti­cally at the work­shop. In the past six months, the work­shop has pro­duced only six ki­los of waste cloth and the aim is zero waste pro­duc­tion. The high­light of the Potla Potli Col­lec­tion is a bro­cade jacket that is cre­ated with 63 patches.

THE SCRATCH STITCH

Adding an at­trac­tive el­e­ment to the patch­work is the scratch stitch which had an un­usual ori­gin. Rekha’s dog would of­ten tear its blan­ket and Rekha would ask a tai­lor to darn ( rafoo) it by work­ing a few stitches us­ing the sew­ing ma­chine. This led to the same stitch be­ing worked on the patch­work of a gar­ment to give it an in­ter­est­ing, de­signer touch. In fact, so at­trac­tive is the stitch that at times, some clients–not find­ing the scratch stitch on a gar­ment with patch­work–re­quest for it!

The scratch stitch is sym­bolic of the ethos of Kish­mish that it is ac­cept­able and even mean­ing­ful to re­store, re­pair, mend, care for and up­cy­cle old clothes, and that mend­ing clothes beau­ti­fully gives them a new lease of life and makes them last longer. In this way, by bring­ing to­gether hand­made and patched fab­rics, hand­tai­lor­ing and scratch stitch to cre­ate gar­ments that are com­fort and chic, the brand silently speaks of and for sus­tain­abil­ity with style.

It is al­most a uni­ver­sal cer­tainty that Septem­ber 6, 2018, will go down in his­tory as the day In­dia fi­nally stepped out of the op­pres­sive shadow of an ar­chaic law and into the colour­ful day­light of modern times. This was the day that Sec­tion 377 of the In­dian Pe­nal Code was deemed ‘ir­ra­tional, in­de­fen­si­ble and man­i­festly ar­bi­trary’ in its per­se­cu­tion of con­sen­sual adults en­gag­ing in ho­mo­sex­ual sex by the Supreme Court of In­dia. Not only was this mon­u­men­tal mo­ment a tri­umph for the LGBTQIA+ (Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans, Queer, In­ter­sex, Asex­ual and oth­ers) com­mu­nity but also a rev­e­la­tion for more than 1.3 bil­lion In­dian cit­i­zens who gained the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand, con­nect, and share in the full po­ten­tial of their own free­doms and ex­pres­sions.

THE CRE­ATIVE AND TRANS­GRES­SIVE PER­SON­AL­I­TIES OF THIS UNDERCLASS OF­TEN FOUND THEM­SELVES AT­TRACTED TO AND AC­CEPTED IN THE FASH­ION WORLD.

THE JOUR­NEY TO FREE­DOM

Prior to Bri­tish colo­nial rule, In­dian mo­ral­ity and ethics had an un­chal­lenged ac­cep­tance and recog­ni­tion of ho­mo­sex­ual be­hav­iour with no neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions. But dur­ing its en­slave­ment, In­dian so­ci­ety was co­erced into fol­low­ing the Bri­tish colo­nial modes of Vic­to­rian le­gal and moral think­ing, lead­ing to cen­turies of op­pres­sion. And while the colo­nial rule may have come to an end decades ago, its tar­nished legacy con­tin­ued to carry over into in­de­pen­dent In­dia. Dur­ing the post-in­de­pen­dence pe­riod, In­dian law con­tin­ued to re­main bur­dened by western ju­rispru­dence, as it fol­lowed the ar­chaic le­gal prece­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tion against the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity with­out any re­con­sid­er­a­tion.

Not only did this lead to decades of abuse and marginal­i­sa­tion of mil­lions of In­di­ans, it for­ever changed the open and in­clu­sive na­ture of In­dian so­ci­ety to one that was re­pug­nant to its orig­i­nal ideals. How­ever, as time moved on, so did the wis­dom and think­ing of the world. The big­gest push to­wards equal­ity be­gan in the 1960s as civil move­ments be­gan to ac­knowl­edge the in­her­ent flaws in older ways of think­ing. And even as sex­ual lib­erty re­mained un­der op­pres­sion in the post-colonised world, Eng­land and Wales de­crim­i­nalised ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity for men in 1967. It would, of course, be decades more be­fore true equal­ity would be at­tained in any na­tion, but the trend had been es­tab­lished. How­ever, for In­dia, the jour­ney to de­crim­i­nal­is­ing Sec­tion 377 re­mained a long and ar­du­ous one.

Dur­ing this time, the many mil­lions of peo­ple who re­mained ne­glected, dis­crim­i­nated against, and abused, found only a few places where they could pur­sue lives of pur­pose and mean­ing. While many in In­dia had lit­tle choice but to re­main hid­den, fear­ful of the law and so­cial stigma, there was one place where they would find ac­cep­tance–the In­dian fash­ion in­dus­try. As in many places around the world, the cre­ative and trans­gres­sive per­son­al­i­ties of this underclass of­ten found them­selves at­tracted to and ac­cepted in the fash­ion world. Sur­rounded by cre­ative out­lets

Kish­mish

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