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As more and more Indians buy customised, made-to-order and well-fitting apparel online in the pandemic, the same trend has been observed in the accessories segment where people are now spending on customised shoes and other items in these social distancing times.
Ashish Prakash and Aayush Jindal who graduated from IIT Delhi started Toesmith in 2019 that allows customers to not only customise different parts of the shoe but also edit and upload their own design online. Based in Gurugram, Toesmith ships their products — mostly in the range of Rs 1,000-Rs 3,000 — across Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata.
ToeSmith offers a 3D interactive design tool that allows people to customise different parts of a shoe individually. The customer can easily change five aspects of a shoe – the vamp (the front part of the shoe), the quarters (sides), the heel counter (backside), the binding (inner part), and the collar lining via the 3D design.
“There was a strong need for affordable customisable shoes. So, we thought let us give the consumer the option to customise and order their own shoes and that’s how we started ToeSmith,” Aayush said in recent media reports.
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At Lusso Lifestyle, which is India’s first shoe brand for men with a vegan-luxury concept, its founder Bhaveen Doshi is busy devising new ways to help customise the shoes as per the client’s needs and choices.
“We make the customer’s experience hassle-free by having a walk-in store plus an online website that provides our entire collection which makes it convenient for the customers to choose the right pair for themselves. We also provide free exchanges and returns,” Doshi told IANS.
“We also have WhatsApp services available where our designers help the client choose the right pair, suggest to them what will suit their attire and their comfort,” he informed. The pandemic has been a difficult period for him.
“Since every cloud has a silver lining, we managed to take this pandemic in a positive way. It has given us time to work on our new product line that we recently launched,” he said. Their products range from Rs 1,500 to Rs 10,000. With the help of a few experts, Doshi uses a combination of high-grade Polyurethane and Rexin, which aesthetically looks as appealing as leather and has the same comfort level.
Mumbai-based Tiesta provides custom-made luxury footwear which can be ordered from the comfort of your home. “Make your pair as unique as you are! You choose your leather, your colour, your sole and your details. We’ll handcraft your desired pair as per your specifications using the finest materials and bespoke workmanship,” according to the company.
Many people have a hard time finding the perfect pair of shoes. There are some who just can’t seem to fit their feet in the standard-issue shoes from the retail stores, especially in these times. The company offers customised solutions for tiny/narrow feet too. Yashaswini Dayama who is a singer-actor and worked in the movie “Dear Zindagi” uses Tiesta shoes.
Another customer Shikhani had a hard time finding a shoe that fit her tiny feet.”I got to know about Tiesta through a friend and they were surely a life saviour!,” she posted on their website. The company says that all of the shoes are handmade by skilled artisans. “We make sure that the shoe that leaves our facility is of the most premium quality with proper comfort and luxury,” according to Tiesta. (IANS)
Designer Dolly J’s latest couture collection celebrates body confidence and ethnicity. The designer launched her collection ‘Gulenaar’ on Day 3 of the first-ever digital edition of the India Couture Week (ICW), organised by the Fashion Design Council of India, on Sunday.
A short, musical video shot inside a palace, the designer showcased a line-up of ensembles for “functional bridal wear” comprising traditional red bridal lehengas, western gowns, drapes and sarees.
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“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within; nothing is more impressive than a “Gulenaar” who does not seek validation as she is confident in the extraordinary way Universe has created her,” says Dolly commenting on the idea behind the collection.
“This collection is for the confident woman who is happy in her shape, size and colour,” reveals the designer. “It’s a very exuberant collection. It is suspended between dream and reality.”
Dolly has heavily used intricate handwork of silver and gold threads over the lehengas to maintain the mood of the fat Indian wedding. Fabrics like luxe silk organza, woven with jacquard have been used in a rich palette with a mix of pastels and jewel tones. (IANS)
It wasn’t the familiar setting of the ballroom at the Taj Palace Hotel in the Capital, neither was it the familiar parade of ‘shaadi’ wear one is accustomed to at the India Couture Week (ICW). Pleasantly, day one of the 13th edition of the ICW was au courant — it was digital, it was virtual, it was democratic, and thanks to Gaurav Gupta it was also topical and relevant.
Gupta, the high priest of avant grade Indian fashion, set the tone and the pace for the week with an ode to “all forms of love”. His 12-minute cinema noir show, titled ‘Name is Love’, featured 18 models of different genders, body types, ethnicities and sexualities, showcasing 45 women’s wear and 20 men’s wear pieces of his 2021 couture collection.
The show featured Anjali Lama a trans-female supermodel, Tarun a non-binary model taking the forefront in International campaigns by owning his feminine and masculine side gracefully in front of the camera, Nitya a body positive woman, Vee a trans-male model effortlessly showcasing his true self, two boys in love with each other — Rudra and Anurag to two girls in love with each other — Manauti and Anjali, happily living-in with their parents.
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These are stories of today, these are stories you were never shown at a fashion extravaganza and these are the stories which need representation, both in fashion and in life.
Speaking about the idea behind the theme, Gupta said: “Love for inclusivity. There is a new wave of social change in India which has been exposed only in pockets but hasn’t received a mainstream platform — the campaign is meticulously curated in order to uphold authenticity and capture a true sense of rawness which is vulnerable yet utterly endearing at the same time.”
He added: “While we were casting, we discovered beautiful stories where differences and sexualities were not just accepted but celebrated. We were enamoured by these individuals’ sheer optimism; their experiences felt familiar yet bold and their stories needed to be heard. At Gaurav Gupta, we are honoured to represent their courage, their candor, their honesty and their interpretation of love in its most real form.”
Gupta stays true to both his style of juxtaposing fluidity with structure, shimmer with sheer and lots of drama. He calls it the “flight, form and freedom” an “obsession with infinity; wearable art couture.”
The designer, who is known for his love for sculpting, has reinvented his indigenous techniques in the form of structured wings, spiralling ruffles and architected waves. He uses glamorous shimmers, dramatic volume in jewel tones of red, blue, black and green.
The men’s wear, ‘A Pegasus In The Clouds’, includes bordeaux velvet suits, embroidered tuxes and futuristic Bandhgalas with sculpting techniques, embroideries and mystical motifs. Gupta said: “Shooting a campaign of this magnitude and especially at a time like such was not an easy job. We shot with 18 models, casting them was a deeper process. We delved into the pulse of new India, their lives and their stories. We visited each and every location with the advised safety protocols and detailed each and every element on the set, even the paint on the walls! It was an emotional journey for me and this project is very close to my heart as it calls out everything that the brand believes in — Love and Hope.”
He concludes: “We are celebrating all kinds of love, indeed a revolutionary and emotional moment to be seen and celebrated. In this process, we also discovered models from Jharkhand, Haryana and Assam who are oozing with potential and confidence to take over the International runway very soon.”
Gaurav Gupta’s video is supported by an original soundtrack composed by Sahil Vasudeva to which poetess Navkirat Sodhi has recited her composition ‘Name Is Love’.
In line with major fashion events across the globe, ICW 2020 is being held online and unlike ever before, it is open for viewing to the public starting this Friday. The annual event which sees India’s top fashion designers showcasing their couture collections, this time around is neither an ‘invite-only’ show nor does it have those larger-than-life sets; but it has all the drama! (IANS)
By Sujata Assomull
Like so many fashion words, “couture” is a term that tends to be used very loosely. Translated from its French origins, the phrase means “high sewing”. In France (considered to be haute couture’s original home), it is so revered that it is protected by law; to show at Paris, you need to comply with strict guidelines.
Paris’ first couture house is considered to be Charles Fredrick Worth, who set up his label in 1858. While couture has adapted with time, it has also stood the test of time. The last edition of Paris’s Haute Couture Week took place earlier in July, it was a digital format event for the first time.
In India Couture Week (ICW) is all of 13 years old and is an annual not seasonal event. This year it will be in digital or virtual format and starts September 18. If you think of high sewing– this country is in many ways the global epicenter of couture. India’s rich and diverse legacy of unique artisanship means that many of the finest pieces of couture are created at local export ateliers. From Armani to Valentino, European luxury houses look to India for their craftsmanship.
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Couture shows play a very special role in the prestige and perception of a luxury house and sometimes are less about profit. But then, they sell everything from lipsticks to bed linen. Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, you might be wondering how these very expensive bespoke dresses made for special occasions really matter?
In India, couture is the bread and butter for many designers. The industry’s apex body, The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) organises the ICW, and its president Sunil Sethi, says, “India as a country is known for its craftsmanship, all over the globe. Couture is a canvas where designers use their creative impetus, as a playground for fresh ideas whether it’s motifs, embroidery, or inspirations.” There are no real rules governing couture in India. Sethi adds,
“Frankly, couture in India is mostly about bridal and this is where the money is. It is an intrinsic part of our culture. In recent times there has been a welcome addition of gowns for the red carpet and other functions.”
The Indian bridal market was estimated by KPMG to be worth around $50 billion in 2017 and grows at around 20 per cent every year. Only the US spends more on weddings than India. It is during the wedding season that Indians splurge on fine fashion and expensive jewellry, and this is the reason most international luxury brands want a base in India-they want a part of that spend. And as gowns have now become accepted dress for the reception function or the welcome dinner, they have managed to nibble into some of the pie.
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However, the big fat Indian wedding is going to have to go on a diet as it marries itself with the “New Normal.” If you see the list of designers taking part it includes Amit Aggarwal, Gaurav Gupta and Rahul Mishra who considered the new guard of Indian couture. The forced pause has made many introspect and fashion is still figuring out how to embrace the new world order. Notably missing from this September’s edition of ICW are some of the modernizers of Indian fashion — Anamika Khanna, Anita Dongre, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, to name but a few.
“Couture is part of India, it’s the home of artisans, and bespoke clothes for weddings are part of its culture. Couture has been bridal in India, but couture is changing,” says Gaurav Gupta, a designer known for his fantastical couture showings. Fellow participating designer Amit Aggarwal states, “Couture for me is a feeling. It sets the tone for the whole year. The pret line, festive drops all expand on the language and art that the couture collection sets in place.”
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With many designers being dependent on couture for their business it of course is in their interest to push the concept of big weddings. Though many young brides are looking for something intimate, a new grandness. Of course weddings are still happening, while they are not the multi day extravaganzas there once more — there is still a demand for “the dress”. But can it really be the driving force of a whole industry any longer?
Couture’s intrinsic artisanal nature makes it an important part of the “Vocal for Local” movement and it’s timeless approach to fashion is a fit with the current drive towards sustainability. So, there are lots of reasons to believe couture will remain relevant.
ICW’s digital format is not only practical in these times of social distancing but also pushes designers to embrace new age practices. This edition could prove to be a turning point and bring new joy to couture – if (and only if) designers embrace these new conversations and do not just rely on the traditional bridal market. (IANS)