Kolkata-based designer Sayantan Sarkar says his free-spirited friends inspire him

That India is blessed with so many designers who fashion star wardrobes is nothing but the extent to which the fashion fraternity has grown especially in the last decade is impressive. In the city to present his line To Be or Not to Be at the Bangalore Fashion Week, Kolkata-based designer Sayantan Sarkar, who launched his label eight years ago, spoke to MetroPlus about his new line, his inspirations and aspirations.

He says: “This is essentially a streetwear collection for men and women. To Be or Not to Be is a collection dedicated to the gender blenders who celebrate their confusion and revel in the essence of living by embracing the bohemian lifestyle.”

Speaking of his source of inspiration for this line, the designer says: “Since this is a Summer Resort 2013 collection, my inspiration stemmed from the people I saw around me, different groups of friends who enjoy travelling and photography. I wanted the character of my clothes to manifest that free spiritedness and capture the essence of liberated men and women in contemporary times.”

Sayantan’s range includes straight lines in structure and drapes. Straight jackets, shrugs, dresses, flowy, draped shirts and kurtas teamed with cigarette trousers alongside sheer structured jackets, demonstrate the power of simplicity. The collection focuses on basic and layered silhouettes highlighting the intrinsic confusion.

The colour palette, he says, “ranges from the dusty to khaki with indigo, teal and brown adding to the dark tones, while canary yellow, red, blue, lime green and coral red act as refreshing accents.”

What gives this collection its edginess is the surface treatment like batik and block prints with fish motifs suggestive of change and transformation in fabrics like mul, cotton, linen and organza that come together to weave the wondrous tapestry of contrasts. The designer has kept the look clean and minimal with no real embellishments. “This range is about light and comfortable wear and it’s by far the simplest line I’ve created,” he states.

Each piece in Sayantan’s collection is crafted by hand, often with hand-painting or embroidery. Despite these meticulous details, the designs sell at lower prices than those of his competitors. “I’m a staunch believer in affordable fashion. When I was in NIFT in 1999, Rohit Bal, Ritu Kumar and a few others were already stalwarts in the industry. They were the real couturiers but times change and our modus operandi changes with the times. Hence, when prêt-à-porter became the order of the day, most top-notch designers launched ready to wear collections too and the younger breed of designers have also followed suit. In fact affordable designer wear is more important to fashion than single pieces.”

Though he has dressed celebrities including Zeenat Aman, Mahima Choudhary, Raima Sen and Usha Uthup, Sayantan feels: “The biggest challenge for me is to be able to design and dress the everyday woman. The woman who wakes up to daily chores, takes care of her family, goes out to work, comes back at the end of the day, wanting to look her best, is always my perfect muse. Designing for such women is the most gratifying part of my job.”

Ask him what his design mantra is and he says, “I don’t believe that people need to go by fashion forecasts. The truth is you are as beautiful as you feel you are. You can wear whatever you want as long as you carry it off with the right attitude.”

Apart from retailing from his own studio in Kolkata, Sayantan’s creations are also available at multi-designer stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.