We need to first reuse the waste in our industry
Sidharth Sinha has contributed to the successful rebirth and modernisation of the Dakmanda technique, and uses natural fibres for manufacturing sustainable fabric. He speaks about creating awareness of this traditional craft in an interview with Fibre2Fashion.
Fibre2Fashion: How did you begin your journey?
I was pursuing my graduation in computer science. However, I soon realised that my interest was towards art and design, and thus enrolled myself at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Delhi. I kickstarted my career by working with designers Gaurav Gupta and Kavita Bhartia, and designed costumes for Feisal Alkazi's plays, and also showcased both in India and the US.
Fibre2Fashion: What does N&S GAIA mean?
Gaia in Greek mythology refers to the mother Goddess of Earth, and the origin of life. The brand acknowledges Earth as a vast self-regulating organism, and encourages that it must be taken care of and respected. GAIA is mainly about sustainable fashion, which practices several techniques of eco-friendly processes like upcycling, recycling, crafts and using waste materials.
Fibre2Fashion: What thoughts go through your mind while designing the outfits?
The brand's USP is its strong belief in sustainable solutions, which includes my own personal take on nature as well. Nature is vast; it has all elements. In design, I personally use physical aesthetics from nature and incorporate it in my creations through all: cut, colour and fabric.
Fibre2Fashion: You have revived heritage weaving by bring back the traditional Dakmanda hand-weaving technique in your fabrics. What was the reason?
I chanced upon an opportunity to research on the crafts and textiles of the Northeast. I came across several crafts while working on it, and out of all of them, this heritage craft called Dakmanda particularly caught my attention. It was a dyeing technique with no documentation of its history. I felt emotionally responsible in reviving this exclusive technique. We, as a brand, use a lot of natural fibres in our offerings, resulting in sustainable and essential fabrics.
Fibre2Fashion: What is the Dakmanda technique? How many practitioners of this craft have you trained further?
The Dakmanda weave is a traditional craft of the Garo tribe, and is one of the most time-consuming and painstaking craft that you will ever come across. Every weaver is well versed with a graph of the pattern that they weave. Once the weaver starts weaving after the pre-loom process, they hand-pluck each thread of colour to give shades as an extra weft followed by the graph and then lock it. The process requires patience and great skill. The craft sadly is on the verge of extinction just because of the time it requires. Therefore, I extensively worked with Dakmanda to give a platform to this craft and draw the attention of people towards it.
Fibre2Fashion: How far have you reached in creating awareness of this traditional craft in an era of modern techniques?
We mix modern with heritage and craft, which appeal to both our new age customers who are well travelled and are into modern aesthetics, as well as the ones who have always been supportive of Indian textiles. Most of the responses, which we receive from our customers, are very positive.
Fibre2Fashion: Where do your source fabrics and accessories from?
I mainly use waste trims from factories for my surface development and recycle fibres for the fabric-rayon viscose, cotton viscose, silk viscose and few raw silks including waste fabrics like neoprene. I believe we need to first reuse the waste in our industry, and then go towards the purest form of sustainability by restructuring, even by cutting down on the waterwaste from dyeing.
Fibre2Fashion: What roadblocks do you face while advocating sustainability through your collections?
Every good thing takes time. I will say: stick to reality and keep striving towards what you aim to achieve. The most challenging part of anything is the groundwork and roots. All challenges will eventually give in.
Fibre2Fashion: What is your design aesthetic?
Our label is committed to using a lot of natural fibres to produce sustainable and essential fabrics for our garments and paying tribute to the environment. While being in constant touch with our roots, we are driven towards western sensibilities. My personal aesthetic is more inclined towards drapes and deconstruction techniques in terms of silhouettes.
Fibre2Fashion: What steps should the textiles industry incorporate in order to boost sustainability?
This is not going to be easy and quick. But we need to cut down and reuse what we have and then think of restructuring the map.
Fibre2Fashion: Which prints and colors are trending nowadays in womenswear?
Fibre2Fashion: The market for designers is the biggest during the wedding season. Any plans to go prêt and mass?
We are focusing on our ongoing line right now, which is internationally recognised as resortwear. We are considering on expanding our offerings, but it is too soon to say if it would incline more towards prêt or couture.
Fibre2Fashion: Having showcased at London & Paris Fashion Weeks, please tell us about your collections.
The collections have a strong identity, built over several years of reviving this technique and working on aesthetics. It revolved around its roots blended with new inspirations from the culture and history from European architecture. I am an avid traveller and photographer, which help me amalgamate what I see in nature and history into my garments.
Fibre2Fashion: Where else have you showcased your collection so far? What is next?
Lakme Fashion Week (Mumbai), London Fashion Week, Malaysia, trade shows in Paris (Whoz Next), China, Dubai etc.
Fibre2Fashion: Which are your major markets?
European as well as Indian.
Fibre2Fashion: What is your retail presence? What are your future plans for the same?
Besides Europe, we are domestically stocked at stores like Fantastique (Mumbai), Ogaan (New Delhi), Aza (Mumbai), Atosa (Mumbai), The Civil House (New Delhi), etc. We plan to expand in other cities as well, both international and domestic. We are even considering places besides Europe.(PA)
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