30th August 2012
I recently came across Karishma Shahani’s spectacular graduate collection ‘Yatra’ and have been keenly following her work since. Chauraha meaning crossroads is her latest offering and I caught up with the uber talent to find out more about the inspiration behind her label and collections.
Chauraha design boards
1) Describe your label in one sentence
India with love to the world
2) What’s the story behind the label?
Started in 2011, the label was born after graduating from the London College of Fashion in 2010. The label focuses on design as a celebration and its ways to fit contrasts in harmony. We work through re-interpretation of materials and their functions depending on current needs, creating heirlooms to be passed through generations. With an aim to create vertically integrated systems we stand as a means of promotion of global crafts. Combining a fusion of two extremes, make our products experimental and unconventional, while being hinged on modern functionality, reaching out to all from India with Love.
Chauraha silhouette design board
3) What’s the inspiration behind the a/w 12 collection? and describe your design process.
The core of the idea lies on the road trade and exchanges took place before the advent of technology. The idea of the mixing of cultures, people, ideologies and faiths aside from this business exchange forms the basic of our Chauraha or Crossroads. Integral to this idea were the strong visuals of people from differing culture amalgamating at the same place. The people who walked this road ranged from the richest to the most non-materialistic nomadic of human kind. The design process like our garments is organic and instinctive in nature. Toiling is done extensively alongside sampling for all the textures that fit the inspiration. Once we have enough information to work with we start putting these individual elements together, omitting some and enhancing others on the way.
Chauraha Colour/Mood board
4) You’re known for having an ethical label, how important is it to you for it to be so and how do you do this?
It is very important to think about how and who your aesthetics affect. We maintain our ethical approach through local sourcing of fabrics, utilising hand-embroidery and applications to create our surfaces. With the use of local skills everything is produced inhouse with a no-waste whatsoever policy, where fabrics are re-used through different techniques i.e. lining with second-hand materials or end-of-line fabrics, ensuring every piece has a uniqueness and its own individuality. Through re-utilisation of already existing material / non-clothing materials we love to create self-run projects to explore their potential to wear and to hold. Through collaborations with social organisations we aim to increase our association with different craft regions. The idea is to make do with what we have, to give something new meaning to bring it up to our present context and requirements. This philosophy is not new to us and is highly ingrained with our Indian cultural context. The idea of heirlooms, of saving for our children, of inheriting all the beauty from your parents, of sharing not just values but our lives with our near and dear ones and of old is gold, it always will be.
5) What have been your personal highlights for the brand so far?
With acknowledgements such as ‘Best Surface Textiles’, ‘Nina De York Illustration Award’, ‘Fashion Graduate of the year’, ‘Fashioning the Future- Unique Design Finalist’ and now being a part of Lakme Fashion Week 2012 are all highlights for the brand and for me personally. In other cases our work being acknowledged for its journey and its products are like a pat on your back which help you go on and not stop, it’s all those meaningful encouragements that do wonders.
6) What are you future goals?
The goal in to make people more aware about how much power fashion has to affect lives of all those involved or those who come within its proximity. The ultimate aim is to create vertically integrated systems in which every part of each piece can be handcrafted with our support. Hence being able to grow our own cottons, dyes to weaving them to the finished product ready for the customer so we can steer our journey to a more aesthetically ethical future and confidently be able to say it is sustainable from India with love.
At Lakme Fashion Week
and lastly could you give me details of your stockists.
Bombay Electric, Mumbai