In the 12 years that he has been running his eponymous label, London-based Swedish designer Lars Andersson has mostly worked with Italian and Japanese yarns, bringing knitwear into the fold of luxury. Recently though, on a trip to India last year, the designer — who won Sportswear International’s ‘Best Newcomer’ award in 2011 — was drawn to matka (handloom silk made from waste mulberry silk) and khadi. So he decided to use just the two fabrics in his Spring 2018 collection.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to get to work with these techniques,” shares Andersson, who will be presenting his work at the Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2018’s Sustainable Fashion Day (organised by IMG Reliance) on Thursday. His experience in India, he believes, has helped him take the story of khadi to a western market, while simultaneously allowing him to present his work to an Indian audience. “Lars brings an international Nordic sensibility to the traditional craft,” opines Gautam Vazirani, Strategist and Curator of Sustainable Fashion at IMG Reliance.
Last year, at the encouragement of Vazirani, Andersson visited Kolkata to meet with designer Soumitra Mondal. “I felt a connection,” recalls the Swede, who was on a quest to learn more about Indian weaving techniques. “Over 350 handloom weavers — everything is handmade, and his work is amazing,” says the designer, who was so inspired that he returned in November, spending over six months in Kolkata, working with local weavers and experimenting with Indian handloom. He laughingly admits that his Fall 2018 collection is inspired by the “Howrah ladies” of the city, whose “mix and match” style with saris, cardigans and shawls motivated Andersson to be creative with his own silhouettes.
On Thursday, as part of the #KhadiGoesChic runway show presented by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Andersson will be presenting alongside Buna, The Third Floor Clothing and Jewellyn Alvares. You can expect to see lots of woven skirts and strong interplay between masculine and feminine silhouettes. “My goal,” the designer shares, “is to take khadi — which is very traditional to India — and make something modern with it.”
Fashion for the future
In its 14th edition now (held twice a year), Sustainable Fashion Day (SFD) is easily the most action-packed event at the Lakmé Fashion Week. The initiative — with its many supporters and critics — is undeniably relevant in the public discourse about the revival of India’s ancient (and sometimes dying) textile crafts. SFD has, over the years, expanded beyond big ticket designers (even though this year’s line up includes Rajesh Pratap Singh), inviting “non-fashion” stakeholders such as the United Nations in India and Digital Empowerment Fund, as well as heritage brands such as Tamil Nadu’s RmKV Silks. “Hopefully, the result will be a powerful showcase of sustainable fashion that India is truly capable of creating for the world,” shares Gautam Vazirani.
Sister of the sari
Sunita Shanker talks to Krithika Sukumar about her tongue-in-cheek collaboration with RmKV Silks
Delhi-based handloom advocate Sunita Shanker is known for her elegant style, melding traditional techniques with contemporary design. In her upcoming collaboration with the 94-year-old RmKV Silks, one of South India’s legacy textile institutions, the kanjeevaram gets a makeover. Wear these silk creations over crushed trousers or a skirt — going well beyond sari convention. “Kanjeevaram silk fabric is such that it’s not possible to make something frivolous with it, but we wanted to create contemporary formal pieces that defy the typical look — pieces that sit in your wardrobe for years, but are worn more often than a traditional piece,” explains Shanker.
RmKV, which works with over 10,000 weavers across India, brings traditional South Indian weaves to Lakmé Fashion Week after Tulsi Silks presented in 2016. The silk house approached Shanker — known for her modern-minimalist approach — to collaborate on more contemporary styles that would appeal to a younger clientele. “RmKV has a heritage of its own in the weaving world, and my intervention was more in terms of colour, placement and style,” shares the designer.
“We have reversible saris draped differently to show both sides, geometric motifs and happy shades like orange, and subdued ones like rose clay,” she adds.
Sustainable Fashion Day, a part of Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2018, will be held on August 23. Details: lakmefashionweek.co.in.