style is fresh, style is cool. style flows freely and knows no boundaries. it takes shape in the imagination of the creator and gives personality to the wearer. it can sit subdued or roar thunderously- very much like clouds in nature. so when smartwater partnered with Lakme Fashion Week 2018 to launch ‘The Platform’- an opportunity for emerging designers to showcase their talent, the theme had to be #inspiredbyclouds.

three designers reigned with their cloud-inspired creations that touched the skies. here, winning duo Sakshi & Swasti from the label ‘Shanti’ share the inspiration behind their creations, their experiences with the event, and what the future looks like amidst an endless sky of opportunities

Journey India: Tell us a bit about how the journey to smartwater presents ‘The Platform’ began. What inspired you to be a part of the event?

Sakshi & Swasti: Our journey with smartwaterpresents ‘The Platform’ began after surpassing rigorous rounds of monitoring of design concepts for the cloud-inspired collection and thereafter emerging as one of the winners. One aspect that inspired us to be a part of the event, was the theme of ‘#inspiredbyclouds itself. It was exciting to take inspiration from something we see every day and transform that into a beautiful collection.

Journey India: What was your take in terms of art technique, craft, design and execution, on the theme- inspired by clouds?

Sakshi & Swasti: Inspiration: Clouds get formed with a cycle of atmospheric phenomenon. Similarly, the concept of a garment being made from pure handloom linen struck us as being ‘sustainable fashion,’ whereby discarded material from saris/clothes were turned into garments. This was our take on imitating the cycle of cloud formation.

Technique/Craft: The linen that we have used for our collection has been indigo dyed and dabu printed to imitate the variance and texture of clouds. Through the interplay of linen and silks, we are aiming to take one back to our legacy of handloom silks, while also catering to the demands of the winter festive season. A-line cuts and plain silhouettes with an interesting touch of seams have been used to provide structure to our garments. With a monochrome tone of soft greys, whites and blues, the seam lines in our collection have been inspired from the manner that Indian women used to dress in the 18th century.

Journey India: How did you ensure that your work was creative and unique- what made it stand out from the sea of other creations?

Sakshi & Swasti: We ensured that the collection that we bring forth uses an innovative approach because all our garments were centred on the theme of yardage waste. Intrigued by yardage that gets wasted in factories everyday due to minor defects in fabrics/saris, we have specifically used these discarded fabrics in order to showcase our collection. Therefore all our garments stand out because they aim to be sustainable, while also resembling the formation cycle of clouds.

Journey India: How do you feel the mentorship with India’s leading designers helped you improve your work and the way you thought about design?

Sakshi & Swasti: The mentorship with India’s leading designers was thorough and well-crafted to reflect from each other’s work, and through this process of ideating together, to get the best version of ourselves into the limelight. For instance, inspired by how other designers were using props to enhance the looks for each model, we also thought of designing little belts and detailed collars to accentuate the stage appearances.

Journey India: What was your most memorable moment from the experience?

Sakshi & Swasti: The most memorable experience was when we were accompanied by Soha Ali Khan at the end of the show. She personally acted as a great brand ambassador for the three winners of ‘The Platform’ and we were deeply touched not only by the confidence with which she wore the outfits, but also by the elegance with which she acted as a brand endorser. We were truly able to maximise our reach through her endeavours.

Journey India: What is your take on the fashion industry in India, and opportunities available for budding design talent?

Sakshi & Swasti: The fashion industry in India is dynamic and rapid. The scope of growth is endless as the Indian fashion industry enters the global market. The industry provides a creative haven for all those people who are ready to embrace new trends and develop the much needed skill set for trend setting innovation.  To be able to survive and sustain in this ever-growing world, the raw talent needs to be mentored carefully by a mix of design education along with a hands-on experience in design houses that actually care about honing such talent.

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

Sakshi & Swasti: We are looking forward to catalysing the opportunity of being on a part of this platform to meet like-minded, creative and aspiring designers. We are grateful to smartwater- an innovative and stylish brand, for providing us an opportunity such as ‘The Platform,’ so we can get the exposure and encouragement which we need to take our label to new soaring heights. There is ample talent out there in our country. However, everyone doesn’t get a chance to showcase their work, and bring it to the limelight. Initiatives, such as smartwater presents ‘The Platform’ are much needed to help this talent to get the recognition, mentoring and opportunity they need to progress.

Journey India: Having gone through this experience and having had the opportunity to showcase at LFW, what would be your advice to budding designers based on your learnings?

Sakshi & Swasti: My advice is to embrace every part of the journey because each and every moment at Lakme Fashion Week should be deeply relished. Also, it is important to learn from all the guidance and support provided by industry-leading mentors, such as Bazaar India to grow as a brand and as an individual.

Journey India: What are your plans/career goals for the next five years?

Sakshi & Swasti: In the next five years, Shanti aims to provide a differentiated retail experience by diversifying from solely designing garments and clothes into the home decor space as well. Therefore, we want to leverage on the USP of being a designer brand, by interweaving the elements of our designs in carpets, sofa upholstery, wall paintings etc. Such diversification would lead Shanti to having an impact on people’s lifestyle. We are therefore working towards being associated as a lifestyle brand.

Journey India: Finally, what does smartwater mean to you?

Sakshi & Swasti: smartwater for us is a perfect example of modern design infused with a strong concept. smartwater is unique in that the product itself utilises nature’s way of making the purest water, while meeting standards of fashion in terms of design and style.