Style has been mesmerising, inspiring, but most importantly it has never been shy of donning a new avatar by breaking the norm. Time and again it has proven that some ground-breaking ideas often possess the power to influence. One such idea is the collaboration between smartwater & Lakme Fashion Week, for creating “The Platform”, a design mentorship initiative specifically created to bring all forthcoming designers and their designs into the spotlight. It was only apt then that this year’s theme for The Platform was – made differently.

Designers entering the fashion industry align themselves by challenging the norms and creating outstanding pieces. This year, the zesty participants took the theme to a whole new level of sustainable fashion.

Here we have one of the three winners of The Platform, Salita Nanda of Salita Nanda Label, summing up her experience of an encounter with fashion and style.

Question 1 - Would you like to share with us a bit about your journey that led you to become a part of smartwater ‘The Platform’?

I was born and brought up in London. However, having shifted to India, my label, Salita Nanda reflects elements from these two diverse backgrounds. It draws subtly from my heritage and reinterprets this vibrant aesthetic in a modern, cosmopolitan way.

After high school, I studied at the London college of Fashion, University of the Arts. This was followed by a course in pattern making at the Milan Fashion Campus, in Milan in 2011. I joined Amanaka Wilmont in London and developed my expertise as a member of the women-wear design team. The creative freedom I got at Amanaka Wilmont and the city of London allowed me to develop my own vision and distinctive taste.

When I moved back to India, the brand showcased our first capsule collection in Mumbai. This was in 2015 and it earned great reviews from Indian and International press during the prestigious Gen-Next at Lakme Fashion Week. I have also presented our collections in various cities around the world in London, Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong and Mumbai.

Question 2 - How did the mentorship with India’s leading designers through ‘The Platform’ help you improve your work and your thought process about design?

The mentorship and masterclass with Harper’s Bazaar India was an integral part of this journey in creating our collection. It was not just from a business of fashion perspective but from a creative one as well. From learning how to advance business in the retail space within our country as well as internationally, to streamlining our creative thoughts with Edward’s help was an enriching experience.

Our ideas became clearer, about how to use the theme ‘Made Differently’ to our advantage and also to create a collection that was commercially viable whilst still innovative. This would not have been possible without the mentorship from the fashion industry’s best.

Question 3 - Could you share with us, your most memorable moment from this encounter with fashion that was made differently?

The most memorable experience for us has to be the whole experience in itself! There are a few highlights that have stood out, the first being the masterclass that gave us tips that we will use for seasons to come. Seeing our prints and sketches on the smartwater bottles was extremely special. We will cherish the gift boxes as we look back at this life-changing association with smartwater and The Coca-Cola Company.

Lastly, having Sobita Dhulipala as our showstopper, someone who we truly respect and who challenges the norms in whatever she does, represented our three stories beautifully. This collection has been one of our most successful and we are truly happy and proud about how it has been well received by the fashion fraternity.


Question 4 - What does the theme ‘Made Differently’ mean to you?

The theme #madedifferently gave us the creative freedom to enjoy the process of creating a collection that is unique and innovative with the use of stencils, spray painting and improvisational hand painting. The prints are hand-illustrated along with acrylic paints and hand embroidered appliqued 3D embroideries. Much like the process of how smartwater is made, this collection was truly ‘made differently’.

For our collection, we were able to create a unique and innovative collection of styles and designs using richly layered digital prints that are a blend of historic pop imagery and contemporary cultural iconography to create a version of pop–graffiti art hybrid prints with each piece telling its own story.

Question 5 - Do you feel that smartwater presents ‘The Platform’ has helped open opportunities for you to build a career in design? If so, then how?

The Platform has offered emerging designers like me, a space where we can truly showcase our work with immense support, mentorship and media exposure. With the post-show recognition, we hope to take our brand to the next level with various associations and business opportunities that have arisen from being a part of this wonderful initiative.

We hope to scale our business, to work with and revive more dying crafts from around the country. And, to work with local artisans to create jobs and employment, designing collections that reinterpret aesthetic codes through a new perspective. All in all, we would like to thoroughly celebrate an individualistic sense of taste and awareness.

Question 6 – Finally, how impactful has ‘The Platform’ been for your journey?

Winning The Platform has been a great opportunity and one that I hope to use to challenge the norms in fashion in the future.

Our ideology thrives on innovation, freedom and empowerment and I believe, The Platform gives you that liberty to truly create and tell your story as a brand with the presenting collection. This program is truly supportive with great mentorship and exposure that has positively impacted our brand which will hopefully help take it to the next level.