Designer Archana Kochhar- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

Well-known fashion designer Archana Kochhar impressed the audience at the recent New York Fashion Week (NYFW) with the showcase of her collection, ‘Anant’ at the city’s High Water rooftop. The event combined the elegance of Indian weaves with a contemporary look for Indian women. Kochhar introduced vibrant rani pink hues and modern silhouettes, showcasing the handwoven Paithani Sari. TMS spoke to Kochhar about going global and her collection.

What is ‘Anant’ about?

It is a celebration of Indian weaves and Indian fabrics with the modern vision of Indian women. Divided into three segments, it celebrates Maharashtra’s rich cultural heritage, symbolises global resilience, and honours the diversity of the female form. ‘Anant’ means infinite possibilities inspired by Indian culture.

Your collection is inspired by evolving silhouettes across three generations of Independent India. Please elaborate on this. 

It is a tribute to the evolving fashion landscape of independent India. It reflects three generations of Indian women and their changing styles and a fusion of timeless elegance and contemporary fashion, a true reflection of India’s journey through the years.

How do you balance the theme between Western and Indian styles in today’s world? 

Balancing Western and Indian styles in today’s world is a central theme of the collection. We fuse contemporary cuts with traditional Indian weaves, creating a harmonious blend that resonates with modern Indian women. It’s about celebrating our cultural roots while embracing the evolving global fashion landscape, allowing women to express themselves authentically.

You have worked with the ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ campaign and worked closely with the tribal women weavers from Jharkhand on the ‘Ahimsa silk’ fabric. What is the importance of this

Recognising art at the grassroots level is very important. Working closely with the tribal women weavers from Jharkhand on the ‘Ahimsa silk’ fabric, which is produced without harming silkworms, showcases the potential for sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry. By supporting and celebrating these grassroots talents, we contribute to their economic well-being and cultural preservation while promoting eco-friendly and socially responsible fashion.

What is your process of designing a new collection for the season?

It begins with drawing inspiration from various sources, including Indian culture and contemporary trends. Then, I sketch out the initial designs, select fabrics, and start creating prototypes. It’s an iterative process of refining and perfecting each piece until it embodies the vision I have in mind. Collaboration and attention to detail are key in completing the collection, ensuring it reflects the essence of Indian weaves and the evolving vision of Indian women.

How do fashion designers keep up with the latest trends? How have you evolved?

It is done by closely monitoring the fashion industry, attending fashion shows, and researching emerging styles. They also draw inspiration from art, culture, and everyday life. In my career, I’ve witnessed a significant change in the role of a fashion designer. It’s evolved from simply creating clothing to being a storyteller and advocate for cultural fusion. Today, designers like me aim to bridge traditional and modern styles, celebrating diversity and creativity in the world of fashion while preserving the essence of our heritage.

What influence does the choice of the fabric have on your designs?

For the ‘Anant’ Collection, I collaborated with the Government of Maharashtra to use the splendid handwoven Paithani sari fabric, which reflects our rich cultural heritage. Fabric inspires the entire design process, from sketching to the final creation. 

Do you think fashion should be comfortable or should it be about making a statement?

Fashion can encompass both. It’s essential for individuals to find their unique style and express themselves through clothing. Comfortable attire can boost confidence and well-being, while statement pieces allow for creative self-expression. Ultimately, fashion should cater to personal preferences and the occasion, offering a versatile range of choices.

With a decade in the fashion industry, have you seen a shift in designers incorporating global influences into their designs?

I have observed a significant shift in fashion designers embracing global influences in their creations. In today’s interconnected world, designers are increasingly drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and international trends, resulting in a more eclectic and inclusive fashion landscape. This fusion of global influences has enriched the fashion industry, allowing designers to create innovative and culturally diverse collections that resonate with a broader audience. 

What will be your word of advice for youngsters who are looking forward to making a career in the fashion industry? 

Stay true to your unique vision and creativity. Fashion is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, so it’s essential to carve your own path and express your individuality through your designs. 
Don’t be afraid to take risks, experiment, and push boundaries. Surround yourself with mentors and peers who inspire and challenge you. Lastly, always remain passionate and dedicated to your craft, as persistence and hard work are key to success in this competitive industry.

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