Crisis churns out innovation for fashion designers

Kolkata-based designer Abhishek Dutta makes a splash with his new convertible autumn-winter collection where PPE jackets convert into fanny packs and the masks for women convert into a pouch for your knick-knacks

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Kolkata: What happens to creativity when the world is in the midst of a crisis? Be it the World War-I or WW-II, the great depression or the pandemic of 1918-20, we have seen how fashion has evolved. Right from shortening of hemlines and disappearance of sleeves to military-style garments for men and the veil on the hats during the Spanish Flu outbreak, designers have been quick to adapt.

The fact that necessity is the mother of invention has been proved to be true once again by Kolkata-based designer Abhishek Dutta who has come out with a convertible garments range which can be extremely useful during this Covid-19 outbreak.

Laid low by the pandemic just like many others of his ilk, Abhishek has utilized his time to experiment with Artificial Intelligence (AI) which will be showcased in the second half of his Autumn-Winter collection.

The designer is also working on an Indo-French collaboration with a French artist to whip out a spectacular collection, sometime later this year or early next year.

Abhishek does not want to reveal much about the upcoming collection as he thinks it is too early to talk about it right now.

But his innovation and research on the new adaptable garments deserve due credit. Talking about it Abhishek said, “In the midst of usual business you don’t the get time to think differently from what you are used to doing. You follow a routine, machine-like. These convertible garments are the first part of my new approach to fashion. There is something I’m doing with AI. I don’t know if I will be successful but this is the right time to do the R&D.”

There is always an evolution in fashion after any major disaster and Abhishek thinks being innovative is all about the survival of the fittest. “Designers have to innovate to stay in business as many of them are sitting on an entire unsold summer collection,” shared the man who has made his mark as a futuristic designers.

 

In fact the non-profit FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India), which works for furthering causes of Indian designers, is organizing a Designer Stockroom online sale, from July 31-August 2, so that designers can get their unsold stocks cleared. Abhishek too is part of the sale, selling his menswear and masks through it.

Abhishek, who experimented with masks for a collection, couple of years ago, assures that his masks and PPE jacket converting into a fanny pack are all very comfortable. His masks for women convert into a pouch, where one can keep knick-knacks. The digital bandhgala jackets have inbuilt masks. “The garments and masks are workable,” he assured.

Proving his point further he mentioned, “I have got a very good response for the convertible line, though the conversion rate is slower as people do not have the luxury of going out and socializing. The PPE jacket can also be worn as a monsoon wear. The collection is reusable even after the pandemic is over.”

The collection, where the designer has used mostly linen and cotton, apart from leather, has evinced interest from buyers in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Buyers from abroad too have been calling him, shared the designer.

Abhishek, who has used his trademark geometric prints to good effect in his latest collection, defends the steep pricing. He cites the high labour costs apart from the raw materials being expensive to procure due to the lockdown. The extra expense is also because of hygiene issues, which is a must for any unit. “The turnover has been cut down by huge margins, which is pushing up the overhead pricing of the garments. And, there is a price for innovation, which includes extensive R&D,” explained the designer.

It’s haute couture after all.

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