Aditi Somani specialises in luxury fusion wear with international cuts and Indian embellishments. In conversation with Fibre2Fashion, she talks about her journey as a fashion designer.
Fibre2Fashion : How has the market for luxury fusion wear evolved?
The fashion industry seems poised for a glittering future. Fashion brands, for example, have moved from their usual ways to produce clothing that is trendy yet in touch with their roots. Designers are working on new handcrafting techniques, unusual fabrics and contrasting colour combinations. In terms of inspiration and concept, the sky is the limit.
The growing couture industry has set high standards for aspiring designers. Everyone wants to stand out and create things out of the ordinary. Because of this intense competition, everyone shows their best work, full of innovative designs. New formats that integrate technology and improve shopper experience have been conceptualised to cater to aspirational and discerning consumers.
Retailers have become more relationship- and experience-focused, as opposed to being purely business-oriented. More efficiency, adoption of technology and increased in-store engagement have become the mantra for success. There is a general shift in aesthetics towards minimalism which is catching up sartorially as well. While the general population is still inclined towards the heavier gold and brocade-adorned fabrics in strong colours, there is an increasingly palpable preference for something simpler. In this era, we appeal to a consumer whose tastes have been influenced by designs from around the world.
Today's young woman may find the traditional, heavy indutvas or ethnicwear a little overwhelming for daily use compared to previous generations or her counterparts in some parts of the world. This is why I see designers and retailers streamlining traditional designs into something that is easier to handle. I see hybrids between kurtas and dresses that are constructed with great fabrics, clean lines, and more accessible to everyone. This movement is allowing today's generations to embrace traditions with a global appeal.
Fibre2Fashion : Which markets give you the best response?
I only retail out of Delhi and Mumbai and my designs have been well received in both cities. I have participated in various exhibitions across India and have got a positive response. Keeping that in mind, I would want to tap the Tier II cities and expand my retail presence there as well.
Fibre2Fashion : What roadblocks did you face when you launched your label? How did you overcome them?
The Indian womenswear space is mainly dominated by bridalwear so initially it was a challenge to break into the industry and establish myself as a luxury fusion wear designer. I stayed true to my style and design ethos and got appreciated for my unique designs.
Fibre2Fashion : How do you tackle issues of skilled labour like pattern masters and tailors?
I have a loyal and dedicated set of workers who have been with me since the start of my label and have become more like family. They are an integral part of the Aditi Somani label.
Fibre2Fashion : Which motifs, silhouettes, colours and fabrics are trending this season?
For SS17 pastels and off-whites are sure-shot winners. Lighter colours have been a spring and summer favourite for ages, but modern, fashion-forward silhouettes keep them from looking tired. Elements in deeper shades can be added to pastels to add dimension. To keep off-whites from looking too washed out, punctuate with bright embroidery and motifs.
Summers are also the ideal time to embrace electric hues like sunny yellow, cobalt, turquoise and lime green. Pastels and neutrals may seem overbearing during the summer because of their prevalence, and saturated hues will definitely have you standing out from the crowd. Pair cerulean with pastel pink for a light combination, or lime green with off-white to infuse a punch of colour into your neutral outfit. Your winter colour palette works just as well in summer as long as you add summery elements in pastels or whites.
Fibre2Fashion : What thoughts go into designing your outfits?
A lot of thought goes into designing each outfit. Through my eponymous label, I aspire to create designs that are simple, understated, yet unique, elegant and wearable. Each piece should have a persona of its own and should also showcase the silhouette, colours and textile in all their glory. I believe that creativity and appreciation for beauty are not a mere professional trait.
Fibre2Fashion : Which are your favourite fabrics and embroideries?
I prefer using natural and hand-woven fabrics to synthetic ones. This includes benarasi, crepe, georgette, ikat, kashmiri and lucknawi. In this sense, I try to use fabrics that go well with my aesthetics and collection, while being well priced. It is important to consider all these factors to make a complete collection.
Fibre2Fashion : What is the USP of your label?
My label, Aditi Somani, showcases silhouettes and motifs that follow traditional values with an international appeal. My designs are minimal and understated while being rich and elegant. My collections are mid-ranged, which is well priced and positioned. I showcase subtle class with a tweak.
Fibre2Fashion : Please share your retail presence, exports and manufacturing capacity.
I retail from Mumbai and New Delhi. In Mumbai, I retail out of Mélange, the multi-designer store. In New Delhi, I have recently launched my designer store in Defence Colony. I also retail from Ensemble at Khan Market and on Pernia's pop-up website. Our main unit is currently about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, with over 40 sampling units and about 60 general ones. There are also a couple of units across India from where we outsource.
Fibre2Fashion : Sustainability is much talked about. As a young designer, what steps do you take to reduce your carbon footprint from sourcing to final product?
I try to be as sustainable as I can in the production process. I make sure to use natural fabrics instead of synthetic. With experience, I aim to create something that has a qualitative characteristic over the quantitative element. We are always careful of cloth consumption as well as wastage. While a collection that looks good is usually the main motive, it is important to keep your approach sustainable, nature-friendly and clean.