Rupa Sood and Sharan Apparao
We do not want to compromise on the quality we offer
Nayaab, an exhibition meant to celebrate Indian weaves, is in its second edition. This year's Nayaab will be seeing participation from 19 designers, who will be exhibiting their exclusive capsule collection showcasing the history of textiles and their inspirations. A collection of garments, fabrics and saris will be on display. Curators Rupa Sood and Sharan Apparao shed light on the traditional textiles industry and discuss about their ongoing exhibition with Subir Ghosh
Fibre2Fashion: This is your second year. What was the response last year that encouraged you to continue with Nayaab this year as well?
Rupa Sood and Sharan Apparao:
The first edition of Nayaab took place in Delhi and then Chennai. We received a phenomenal response from the patrons. We garnered a lot of appreciation and glory for the initiative we had taken. It's not only an exhibition to showcase the latest fashion trends, but also an effort to exhibit old textiles. The positive feedback and the love encouraged us to go ahead with another year and we are anticipating great response.
F2F: How did you quantify the response to last year’s Nayaab? Through footfalls? Through word of mouth? Through sales?
The response to the first edition of Nayaab was a combination of word of mouth and the promotion we undertook which lead to quantified footfall and great sales. However, the word of mouth worked the most, as the customers who visited the exhibition were full of praises and helped us propagate it further.
F2F: Promoting Indian weaves needs to work out at all stages of the supply chain. How does an exhibition seek to do that?
Nayaab is an effort to celebrate Indian textiles. As curators, our effort is to present the best of the designers for our customers. We do a thorough research of each designer before collaborating for the exhibition. However, in this initiative we ensure to present not just the Indian weaves, but even the traditional techniques and methods to craft the textiles. Designers use different crafts to enhance their designs and it is every core together – the embroidery, the weaves, the dyeing to create each piece that we exhibit at Nayaab.
F2F: What about designers? What was their response last year? Has the number of participating designers gone up this time?
The designers received a great response last year. A lot of young designers were enthusiastic and requested to be part of the show. The selected designers were chosen as their work reflected the essence of Nayaab. And yes, there is a positive increase in the number of participating designers. Last year we had fifteen designers, and in the second edition we are presenting nineteen designers. However, we have maintained a small number as we ensure an extraordinary collection for our clients.
F2F: The repertoire of Indian weaves is far too huge. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of weaves, and their variations that can be showcased. Do you yourself shortlist what to showcase, or do you leave that to designers?
The designers are chosen with thorough market research of their latest collections. In the process, we ensure the designers comprehend the quintessence of Nayaab as this helps them create the collection in sync with our exhibition. However, in terms of the techniques and the weaves, we always discuss and share inputs with each other but eventually we leave it to the designers to decide and present the final collection, as they understand the market well.
F2F: How did you hit on the name ‘Nayaab’? How long did it take for you to get the concept off the ground last year?
Nayaab as it means is out of the ordinary and we aimed to curate an exhibition which showcases the excellence and extraordinary talent of Indian textiles in the country. Hence, Nayaab. Once the concept occurred it really took us no time to implement it. It took us around six months to find the right designers encapsulating our essence and convince them to participate.
F2F: This seems a bit Delhi-centric. Do you plan to make it a travelling exhibition? And, how financially viable has this exhibition been?
Nayaab is not confined to Delhi, as we have one edition in Chennai as well. There are no intentions to make it a travelling exhibition, but Nayaab will certainly stay at these two cities as these markets understand Nayaab. We aspire to grow each year, but we do not want to compromise on the quality we offer. Also, curating and bringing everything together of such quality is a time consuming process and we are content with two shows each year.
So far it’s been very good for all of us; we don’t have sponsors for this exhibition as yet, but may be next year we will explore sponsorship opportunities for Nayaab. Also, the little money that we collect from Nayaab, we intend to sponsor a scholarship for student/person who is ‘Nayaab’ at his/her work. We want to promote excellence and extraordinary talent and this is our one of the ways to execute it. We are spreading word among our friends to inform us if they come across somebody who is really good with his/her craft or education. We would love to sponsor him/her.
F2F: Are you coordinating with the Indian Handloom Brand (IHB)? Either in terms of domestic sale or exports?
No, we are not coordinating with the Indian Handloom Brand.
F2F: For any initiative to work in terms of making a difference to the lives of weavers, it has to be financial success at the retail level. What’s your take on this?
Yes, absolutely! Financial success of the exhibition most certainly helps the weavers. Our designers are approaching them, and the fact that we are generating business for the designers makes them approach the weavers for getting the work done. I don’t know how many lives will get enriched, but we are sure something will tickle down to the weaver. It’ll make a difference. As I’ve said ours is not only about weaves, it’s a lot more than that!
F2F: Most of the weaves that are showcased at such events are by and large expensive. Most traditional weaves are essentially luxury fashion items. Do you agree?
Not everyone can afford handloom as they cost way more than the machine made fabrics as preparing them is extremely laborious and time consuming. But it is a fact that people prefer to buy them over the former because of the strength, durability, and uniqueness it encompasses. Anything that people have worked on for 5 months to 6 months, a lot of the shawls have taken forever to weave, a lot of their clothes that they make have taken forever to embroider. It’s not luxury fashion item, but as I believe, any good work is expensive. We are not that expensive, we have something for everybody. Our exhibition caters to everybody and every budget. We have a diverse variety at display at Nayaab. It’s an exhibition with a difference.
F2F: Do you plan to scale up this event? If so, how? If not, then why not? In other words, how do you take this concept forward?
We don’t want to scale up this event to more than 20 designers, that’s it. Yes, we certainly want to take the concept forward into a more brilliant work that should come out of Nayaab as, the whole idea of Nayaab is to bring out something really out of the ordinary. At the moment, we have no plans to scale up the event. We want to keep it small, keep it contained, so that we can maintain the quality we started with.