Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Multipurpose And Utilitarian Fashion For 2015

Text by Nitiz Kaila
The term multipurpose/multifunctional in fashion has long been around. Its stark abstention has been a pivotal point of debate which goes back to the times of inception; times when high fashion has been synonymised with anti-utility by the layman. But the theory of trickle-up has applied well over time where the runways have embraced functional reality lapped with abstract dreams. We have as a matter-of-fact come a long way.  A gradual but continually changing way with palpable changes in idea, execution and perception; as is in the nature of the accelerated pace at which fashion moves. The one big defining premise, just to cite a formative example, was the World War that gave ground to women wearing men’s clothing. And history has taken note and marked many alike.
Just like the term’s literal meaning, the connotations associated are varied. Off-late the way sportswear has taken over and had a pleasant intrusion into almost every possible genre of dressing, the blurring lines between seasons, between work-wear and leisure-wear & the one between gender specific clothes, are all cases in point for what is functional and multipurpose. For the now i.e. 2015 as propounded on the runways we see a surge of Utilitarian. A concept that takes on letting utility and functionality take centre stage. The numerous interpretations that can be covered under this umbrella encapsulate utility in the form of differing elements like concept, fabric, silhouette, etc. For instance military again is a derivative trend of this concept, the silhouettes have become more relaxed, the add-on components include like pockets and hoodies and the fabrics look more a constituent for daily and extended pursuits than mere occasion. Other patterns as seen on runways and reality alike are the flourishing co-existence of functional parkas and lush furs, the vertiginous heel and the platform sneakers, women back in men’s suits and boys in bombers at work and the notable moment when Victoria Beckham diversified from bodycons into pared down sexiness for Spring Summer 2015.
Jason Wu SS15

Victoria Beckham SS15
The pattern here is a big nod to acceptance on part of the artists and sculptors of high fashion and the emergence and championing of runway trends on streets and the fast fashion retailers’ shelves present a case for vice-versa. The runways stage the coinciding of inspirational and practical. If there is J.W Anderson with his not-so-androgynous but plain subversive play on menswear that got him the much-deserved light and the captain’s spot with Loewe, there also exists an Alexander Wang with his high-street tactic making Balenciaga current.
Whilst functionality and accessibility take the main stage and bring spotlight for some like Marc Jacobs' military renditions for SS15 and Raf Simmons' space suit for Dior FW14 Haute couture, there are some who have taken a blow for the same. How else would you reason the departure of Frida Giannini from Gucci on account of stagnant to no growth in the last few seasons owing to the luxury consumer's recalibration of the brand's image as a commodity offering not only exclusive but accessible fashion?
Marc Jacobs SS15

Dior FW14 Haute Couture

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

In Conversation With Shweta Kapur Of 431-88

Shweta Kapur

431-88 By Shweta Kapur SS15

The last fashion week, my aim was to look beyond the usual fashion big wigs of the industry. I wanted to check out more of the upcoming Indian designers and one such designer that came up on my radar was Shweta Kapur. I had the pleasure of hanging out with the designer at her stall and made sure not to miss her show. In fact her show was quite fun! I Loved how everyone got the 431-88 stamp on their arms and of course her clothes were fantastic.

The SS15 theme was Poolside Tailoring and featured slouchy shirts, cropped jackets, soft drapes, sexy slits, some deep necklines and contemporary saris all paired with Nike floaters. I mean pairing a sari and Nike floaters... just the sound of it makes you raise an eyebrow. But not in the case of Shweta Kapur. The closing look (sari and cropped jacket) in my opinion was the winning one. It really changes the way we have been perceiving this traditional Indian garment. The entire collection had this very relaxed vibe to it. The clothes just seemed so easy to put on! Nothing too restricting. Trousers were on the looser side and some garments came with a shiny drape attached either from the bust to the waist or waist to the thigh to add a bit of a bling. What fun right?

Anyways, so since I've become a fan of the label, I figured why not get inside the head of Shweta Kapur. Here's me digging deeper on the designer's background, more on her SS15 collection and future plans for the label:

Me: What does 431-88 mean?

SK: Sorry to disappoint but they are merely the last 5 digits of my phone number. 

Me: You've come really far in a short span of time. Briefly describe your journey. (P.S, she's got celebrities like Alia Bhatt and Diana Penty wearing her clothes)

SK: I studied womenswear at LCF and graduated in 2011. While studying, I did a series of internships with international labels like Burberry and VPL and Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla and Nitin Bal Chauhan in India. After graduation, I trained under a fashion consultant who did a series of projects including window dressing, personal styling and brand management for a year, after which I came back to India to start 431-88. 

Me: You use of colour is very limited. Is there any particular reason why?

SK: That’s not necessarily true. My SS14 was full of colour.  It’s not really about use of colour or not, it’s very mood based. If the season comes with a certain inspiration, it is then up to the inspiration to speak of the colours and its usage. Sometimes colours work and sometimes they don't. It's not like I purposely do not use colour. I love my pinks :)

Inside the stall

Me: What would you is say is your signature design aesthetic?

SK: Sexy meets sporty.

Me: What kind of fabrics do you like to work with?

SK: Fabrics to me make or break the garment. You could have a stellar pattern but if the fabric doesn't stand up to the same it’s a fail! Heavy crepes, tailoring fabrics are always my first preference and leather is of course a favorite too.

Me:Your ideal target market?

SK: The 431-88 woman is a global citizen. She sticks to classics and often shuns the trends. She is anywhere from 20 - 40 years of age and is well aware of what her style speaks of and is very certain of her sartorial choices and isn't really someone who is trend centric. In terms of fashion she is focused and has a steady knowledge of the market. 

Me: Tell me a little bit about your SS15 collection. What inspired you? What made you use Nike floaters to pair with the clothes?

SK: For SS15 I wanted to focus more on the commercial aspect as I felt it was lacking in the previous collections. The entire collection revolved around the idea of a hungover Sunday morning spent next to the pool. I wanted to relax down the idea of tailoring hence we styled it with pool sliders for the show. Sleeves of the blazers were rolled up, shirts were loose on the body and the slits were made higher. 

Me: There were two saris on the ramp. Was this the first time you showcased Indian wear?

SK: Yes to showcase but I have been doing my version of Indian wear for stores for a little while.  

Me: Do you plan on designing Indian clothes, or would you want to stick to Western wear? Yes/No and why.

SK: I thought about what the 431-88 woman would wear on occasions that demanded Indian wear. She would want something that is different from what is available and something that is fuss free. So I did cropped blazers instead of blouses and pre-stitched saris and pants that take the form of saris. I just like the idea of taking something and making it 431-88. For me, my approach to design has changed from battling it between Indian wear and Western, to just focusing on providing my client with a complete wardrobe.

Me: Do you see 431-88 with an accessories line in the near future?

SK: We already do. We always do our own bags, snoods and beanies so the world really is our oyster. It is great I feel when you can approach your favorite designer for all your wardrobe solutions.

Me:What e-commerce platforms are you currently retailing with?

SK: As of now, only my own.

Me: Any plans of opening your own store?

SK: Not right now. Our main focus is on our website and making the brand better and stronger. It is still considerably young and we have a lot yet to achieve.

Me: Any plans on going international?

SK: Like I said before, the focus is first and foremost on making 431-88 a strong brand. To cater to our international clients, we are going to start international  deliveries soon through our website. Though we have done pop up stores in the past in London, it is not something that we are focusing on. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Fashion On The Crossroads - The Amalgamation Of The Past & Future For The Present

Text by Nitiz Kaila

L-R: Gucci SS12, Gucci SS12, Ralph Lauren SS12

L-R: Erdem SS13, Mulberry SS13
2012x1920, 2013x1950, 2014x1960. This encrypted code, if you may call it so, has been the modus operandi for the seasonal quests of the scientists in fashion. A much thought out progression or just a product of the experimental streak is what yours truly is introspecting.
Fashion off-late has been a result of teleportation it seems. The end product being a cross of: travelling back to the past and linking it with the future. That is precisely what this series represents. 2012 was the year of the 1920’s flapper, 2013 of the understated pastels from the modest 1950s and 2014 was a shout out to the minimalistic chic 1960s.
 And from what is conspicuous in the current dialogue in fashion, we can surmise the powerful play of the 70’s for the spring of 2015. And all this while dwelling on and manifesting our futuristic urban aesthetic. Think a not so mutually exclusive existence of flaring pants, shifts, midis & suede joining form with neoprene and mesh induced sports-couture-esque fantasies that are the current zeitgeist.
While the more forward and modern aesthetic is a direct consequence of times as they are, the incessant retrospection could be ascribed to a plenty of theories. Some consider it nostalgia while others proclaim it’s a realization of the longing to have lived in a different era altogether.  It could also very well be a means to fuel the mind and get inspired for some, as there is no fixed formula for the mind to stimulate. But the recurring patterns indicate more than a co-incidence.
For designers, owing to the exploration of what is far-fetched, unknown & unique, to deep-rooted examination and then finding antithesis to the very concept of exploration- think non-descript fashion concepts as Normcore- the process has come full circle over centuries and decades. There is aplenty designers are exploring through & through and breakthroughs that are excitable and utilitarian. But enough is no longer enough.
So this is perhaps the means to flirt with what is familiar and to bring about a sense of much-required security and conformity. It’s probably that common thread the creatives have been using to string themselves together while in full acknowledgement of their wonderfully individualistic creative disparities.  
It’s comfort, a sense of belonging or just a way to move forward as a collective entity whilst retaining your own edge and footing. It’s a matter of what you extract from the past plus predict for the future and how well you bind it together that will shape the current reality; a work in progress for a defining leitmotif of our times.

L-R: DSquared FW14, Louis Vuitton  FW14

L-R: Giambattista Valli SS15, Louis Vuitton SS15

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Currently Trending: Anya Hindmarch Georgiana Stickers Printed Leather Clutch

The last few days have had me spending a lot of time on my favourite online shopping sites. Why you ask? Well, lets see, I give birth in about 22 days and I spend sleepless nights freaking out about the whole labour process! Online window shopping offers some sort of respite. Who doesn't love being in fantasy land filled with gorgeous handbags?!!

Anyways, as I was browsing LuisaViaRoma, I came across the coolest Anya Hindmarch piece. This quirky Georgiana Stickers clutch. The first thing that came to mind was my sticker album when I was a little girl! In white leather, with a burst of colours from the luxurious, leather stickers and a suede lining, I have a feeling this is going to be seen on every IT girl's arm come fashion week. This new creation comes as a result of a collaboration between Charlotte Stockdale of Chaos Fashion. You can go on to the website and order whatever you like from the super fun, interactive sticker shop. My favourites were the egg, the wink and the band aids. Use them to personalise your bag, phone or even your notebook. They even have letters so you can spell out your name if you want too. I love both, the clutch and the stickers! Hubby are you reading this?


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Indelust - Artistically Curated. Ethically Sourced

Ever since Sana Rezwan started her new venture,  Indelust, I became a huge fan. I may not have shopped from this e-commerce platform but I support it in every possible way. After reading more and more horror stories of companies running sweat shops, the Rana Plaza factory tragedy, workers that are overworked and underpaid (Gucci has just been accused of making Chinese employees work for more than three times their official working hours), it really does come as a sigh of relief when you have young entrepreneurs who are actually doing something about it. At Indelust, designers are encouraged to ethically manufacture their products whilst ensuring that their artisans earn a good living too. They have partnered with NEST, an NGO that thrives on getting designers and artists to ethically source and produce their goods. Designers listed with Indelust have the option to sign an agreement that involves the reviewing of the designer's production facilities. Finally, Sana's business also aims to revive ancient handicraft techniques.

My aim was not to summarise the about us page from their website, but to try and create as much awareness as I can as a blogger to encourage and promote ethical fashion. We have all become such fast fashion fanatics, that most of us have stopped caring under what conditions our clothes are being manufactured in. I'm not saying to stop wearing the Forever 21s and Primarks, I'm just trying to say that the more demand we create by starting to purchase ethical fashion, the more support we generate. Something to think about perhaps?

Now, the main reason why I chose to write this brief post was mainly to inform you that from the 3rd-10th January, Indelust will donate 10 % of the profits from any Pakistan made products to the victims of the horrific Peshawar attack. So I you plan on doing some new year's shopping, do check out (and buy) some of the Pakistani brands especially Popinjay for clutches or the pretty necklaces by Inaaya. Not only will you end up with a lovely handmade piece but you will be helping someone too.

What a noble way to start off the new year don't you think?

Grazia India January 2015 Cover

Since I've been talking January 2015 magazine covers, I came across the Grazia India one this morning on instagram and thought of discussing that too. Another model on a fashion magazine cover.. me likey! The cover gives out this very relaxed vibe which I love. The slightly messy ponytails look really chic and easy to carry. Moving on to the clothes and accessories, as opposed to the other covers I talked about in the previous post where the cover girls were dressed in a single look from the resort collections (go through style.com to see what I'm talking about), there's a little bit of mix and match on the Grazia cover. Don't get me wrong, I still love the Harper's Bazaar cover, but I do adore how the Rahul Mishra jacket looks when paired with a Michel Kors Resort 2015 dress underneath. Being a chunky jewellery fan, those Amrapali and Silverline jewels look fabulous. Plus I'm digging the whole indo-western look.

Image via Grazia India's instagram