Travel + Leisure - India & South Asia
FASHIONABLE & RESPONSIBLE
The designer who turns unsightly industrial by-products into stunning ensembles tells us how his travels serve as the moodboard for his collections.
ANY DISCUSSION about sustainable fashion is incomplete without noting the innovations of designer Amit Aggarwal. Aggarwal uses recycled industrial by-products like PVC pipes, rubber, and aluminium sheets to create a wide array of stunning outfits in contemporary silhouettes. Aggarwal is also an avid traveller and calls travel his
“biggest inspiration.” We caught up with him to discuss how travelling impacts his designs and why he calls himself a conscious traveller. Excerpts from the interview:
How would you define sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is something that rises from the core of care and consciousness. It’s not just about clothes, it’s the way a person thinks and does the smallest act.
You are known to use recycled industrial by-products. Did you always plan a sustainable approach to fashion?
I always wanted to use alternative materials to create what we do. Maybe it was a deep-rooted consciousness to choose materials that are no longer purposeful, and give them another life.
From where do you source the raw materials for your collections?
Multiple places for the industrial by-products, sometimes from vendors who don’t even know that they trade in recycled rubber, and sometimes, textiles come from vintage resellers.
How can buyers make more sustainable fashion choices?
Choose originals over copies. Know the ideology of the brand before you shop. Choose products that understand your personality, so you feel for them over a
long period of time. Think multipurpose and multi-usage. Go for things that are easy to store, so that they don’t cramp up the space. Know the materials used and the workmanship behind the craft you are about to invest in.
Give us some tips to create a sustainable travel wardrobe?
Work with more layers so you can style the same pieces differently. Lightweight, easily managed fabrics are the key to travel, so your baggage and mind are at ease. Choose a wardrobe where colours can be combined with one another. I generally make a colour palette before I travel so I can mix and match.
How does travel inspire you as a designer?
It’s my biggest inspiration. Travel allows one to explore every sense of one’s being. Local food, crafts, conversations with people— both locals and visitors, the history and culture you experience. Without travel, I would be a much less inspired human.
In your many travels have you come across a sustainable place that resonated with you?
This has to be Vietnam. Hoi An thrives on local produce and crafts, which are pure explorations of locally available raw material, hotels that connect with the local architecture, and effortlessly happy people.
What habits of yours make you a conscious traveller?
I never overshop for things that I can find anywhere else in the world. I come back mostly with interesting local arts or collectibles that support local artists. I travel with limited clothing, which doesn’t require laundry, and indulge only in local food— mostly pop-ups by locals. I always research a lot on the property that I am going to stay at. I choose the medium of internal travel that most locals would use.
Which is your favourite city for shopping?
I like to shop in Tokyo, Kyoto, Bali, and the Chatuchak [Weekend] Market in Bangkok.
What is your happiest travel memory so far?
Many years ago, we got stranded in Japan and couldn’t find our hotel.
It was an empty street, and the signs were mostly in Japanese. An elderly man came up to us and offered help. We were initially sceptical but took it nonetheless. It was a threekilometre walk to our hotel, and he walked with us and dropped us at the hotel. After we thanked him, we found out he was meant to walk the other direction to reach home. It’ll forever be my most beautiful travel memory.
Your work takes you places. Which are your favourite destinations around the world?
I absolutely loved Turkey, every bit of it. Art, food, architecture, air, history, and modernity. It’ll always be one of my fondest places. Japan is another place that has magic in every corner. You feel alive, inspired, and surprised every single minute.
What are some of your travel kit essentials?
Comfortable underwear and footwear, since I love to walk. I mostly choose beaches over mountains, so airy and easy-drying clothes are a must. A good sunscreen, a comfortable backpack, and my phone charger.
At T+L, we believe that people make places come alive. Are there any places where you felt connected to the locals?
Vietnam. Even the wind there carries a smile on its face.
The happiest people make the happiest places.
Any destination that had a lasting impact on you, either personally or professionally?
Japan gives me a sense of the abstract. It places history alongside a totally new sense of modern culture with utmost beauty. It’s something I always seek to achieve with whatever I create. The waters of Thailand have also had a major impact. The sea has my heart. Each trip is an endless exploration of the world within the oceans.
What’s on your bucket list?
Iceland—“Where the whales can live ‘cause they’re gentle people.”