Categories: Fashion

The Talent Showcase Tab of = the channel of hope for all NIFT fashion designers!

The career festival was going on in full swing in the auditorium. Today a leading Indian fashion designer was giving a talk on fashion designing.

I believe that I can learn a whole lot from all you NIFT students. Hmmmm…. Let me rectify that…..I believe that we can all learn a lot from one another – but since we are discussing fashion designing this afternoon – our focus should be on learning from our fellow craftsmen, artisans and weavers.

I am not going to keep a tab on numbers and give you 5 or 10 tips to land a grand job as a fashion designer. I wish to share some of my experiences with the hope that they will serve as eye openers to all you.

I did not pass out of a leading fashion designing institute like NIFT. But I loved my craft. For half a decade I served as an apprentice in a tailor’s shop. Fashion designing is just a super cool substitute word for a tailor. Whether people call you a tailor or a fashion designer does not really matter. What really counts is the learning that you glean from such low key positions. I learned that women:

Usually wore clothes that were appealing and comfortable at the same time.

Were particular about their clothes being durable.

Intuitively knew if the latest fashion trends would suit their body type.

Loved clothes that were timeless and ageless.

Reverted to their roots and bought clothes that were woven on handlooms.

Proudly wore the local tribal jewellery and the clothes that were typically regional in style.

Were always open to suggestions about new patterns and combinations.

Were curious to know about the intricate details about the garments and accessories they bought and wore.

Explored ecommerce portals like to buy exclusive hand crafted clothes that would directly benefit the artisans who created such great stuff.

I had a small talk with a young girl called Garima a few years back. She wanted to join my small enterprise and was heartbroken when I did not select her from among the other applicants who had applied. Garima and I still keep in touch. She posted her profile on the talent showcase of and today the clothes that she crafts are creating ripples in the eastern part of India. Why did I reject her application? Because this young girl had raw untamed creative potential. Fashion designing did not mean only fashioning clothes for her. Bracelets, anklets, bangles, necklaces, earrings and toe rings and nose rings – this girl simply added oodles of personality to a person. If a person was inherently shy – she would select material and design the clothes to match their personality. Smaller floral motifs, delicate intricately designed jewellery, soft handloom cotton or silk sarees which were dyed with local organic dyes would be her choice. She hailed from Odisha – this girl called Garima. And the folks at gave her complete access to meet all the weavers, artisans and women who crafted tribal jewellery. She teamed up with within three months and now designs clothes on their ecommerce portal which sells almost everything that is hand made from Orissa. She respected the weavers for their craft and went to great lengths to master the skill of working on the looms. She salutes the maestros who craft the double ikkat and the pattachitra sarees. But she also gains the respect of the weavers and artisans because she knows what will and will not work in the market.

Fashion designing dear girls – is not simply buying lovely clothes with great colours and soft textures and drapes and cutting them up into fancy styles.

This is just a short sighted goal that will fizzle out in the long run. Remember – you may have learned a lot from all those theory lectures and practical sessions in NIFT. But your real life learning begins now.

Many of you dream of landing great jobs with excellent pay scales in leading fashion houses.  If that is a dream that is close to your heart – I sincerely wish that your dreams are fulfilled. But I believe that all of us are artists. Writers, sculptors, artists who paint those wonderful portraits and pictures, people who play such great music and such lovely instruments…… designers like us…..are not meant to be strait jacketed.

Look up ecommerce portals like where you can showcase your talent just by uploading your profile and credentials. There is so much scope for your creative potential there. Craft garments made from local fibres which are woven by local artisans and supply them to ecommerce portals like and other leading shops where ready to wear garments are sold.

Once you create a reputation for yourself – the clothes that you create will always be in demand.

Team up with the local tribal folks who weave such intricate patterns on their looms. Work with them to understand what they are trying to say. Don’t force your opinions or your text book knowledge or your egoistic fancy degree on these lovely tribal women. Include them in your photo shoots. See the steady glitter of determination in their eyes. Observe the panache and the oomph with which they carry off their clothes. Some of these tribal women drape and wrap their sarees around them in such a manner that there is simply no need for them to wear that confining, cumbersome blouse. And here we people living in metropolitan cities will pay a bomb to wear a sleeveless itsy bitsy blouse that is not seen in our entire ensemble anyway!

Think girls – think and look and feel with an open mind. is not the only ecommerce portal that is doing this kind of work. Neither am I promoting their website. I simply use as an example so that all of you grasp the nuances of what I am trying to say.

Before you showcase your talent on online portals like nurture your talent and creativity by learning from these rural maestros. They are our hidden gems – our weavers and our craftsmen are our fashion designers – just because they do not have a fancy degree adorning their names does not mean we can take them for granted.

Your educational learning is done in this institute. Now it is time for you to unlearn all that you learned here, relearn it all over again in the school of real life and then add your own touch of uniqueness to it.

Why do we confine fashion designing only to women? Why cannot we have shirts with ikkat and pattachitra work on it? Fashion designing can also mean designing exquisite trendy bags and purses made out of applique work.

Explore your local flavours, fibres, gemstones, metals and find out what is in vogue in your area. Revert to your roots. Do India proud. Why do we want to ape the western clothes? They are not suitable for our Indian climate anyway! We need to create clothes that cater to the largest cross section of our society –the middle class folks. Craft daily wear that our local rural and urban belles can wear with panache, style, oomph and comfort! Our rural artisans have a double dose of common sense in them. We need to learn from them instead of getting carried away by the empty euphoria of our theoretical and maybe highly impractical knowledge. Think for yourselves. Question your deep seated beliefs and value systems related to clothes. Infuse a double dose of culture and tradition in them. Learn these cultural and traditional norms first.

What do you want? A plush office where you design grand clothes that may look great but no one except the super duper rich may ever wear them – or is your work place a loom shed where you craft your art from scratch?

I have expressed myself freely here. I feel at home sitting with you NIFT fashion designers. Any questions? Asked the Indian fashion designer.

‘You are Garima – aren’t you?’ asked a tall slim girl sitting at the back of the room.

‘You created a stunning collection of Ikkat cotton kurtis to beat the searing heat of Indian summer didn’t you? You are a part of the team aren’t you?’ quipped the same girl.

The Indian fashion designer who was delivering the lecture turned around slowly – ‘How did you know?’ she asked softly with a genuine look of surprise in her smile!

“You are wearing a double ikkat silk saree that my parents Radha and Shiroman from Orissa wove a couple of years back! They keep talking about a girl called Garima and incorporate all your suggestions in their weaves! In fact is my sponsor for this course!” said the young girl!

The entire class of NIFT students was agog with curiosity now!  The talent showcase section of the portal had created a channel of hope for all the fashion designers who passed out through NIFT! This Indian fashion designer standing in front of them had proved the worth and merit of such wonderful ecommerce portals like!


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