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Karishma Shahani: Her design Yatra

Her creations are a visual celebration of Indian colours and aesthetics. From ‘Yatra’, a collection she came up with during her graduation years, to her most recent project, ‘Heart to Haat’, Karishma Shahani has grown from design to design in a short span of four years. A 2010 graduate from the prestigious London School of Fashion, Karishma believes in educating the customer about what they are wearing, rather than just selling a piece of cloth. Her label KA-SHA, set up in 2011, focuses on reinterpreting and re-visualising Indian fabrics and crafts. With the announcement of her being one of the five finalists of Vogue’s Fashion Fund — which the magazine awards to an upcoming designer each year in collaboration with Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) — all eyes are set on her. Karishma shares her design philosophy, challenges and her opinion about the fashion scenario in India.

Launching a label soon after graduation, what made you take the risk?

What really worked for me is that my first collection ‘Yatra’ got a lot of attention. It was showcased in the graduate show at London College of Fashion. Back home, it was written about in publications and soon, we got a stock in a store in Mumbai. All this gave me the confidence.

From London to the Indian market, how difficult was the transition?

It is obviously a struggle when you come from a place where design and design education are given a lot of importance. Here it is still a very young market.

The biggest challenge in setting up KA-SHA?

Through our label, we try to educate our clients about what goes into making an outfit and why it costs as much as it does. I think this is an ongoing process because the kind of clothes we do sometimes can be a very niche market and if we want to reach out to more people, it’s our responsibility to make them understand what they are buying and how to take care of it to make it last longer.

Your interactions with craftsmen and their contribution in your creations.

Ever since I was a student, I have been involved with various NGOs and artisans. I recently worked with women from Jhoole, an NGO in Gujarat. We trained them in pattern cutting and embroidery. It’s not a profit-sharing collaboration, it’s our way of giving back.

Was India always at the heart of your design?

While I was studying in the U.K, I realised how much I missed India — the colours, the festivals, the bonding, every little thing. And it all came through in Yatra. Since then my work has revolved around our crafts, textiles and colours.

You’ve been interacting with students all over the country through workshops. What is your opinion of the Indian perception of design?

Most people think that you are doing fashion because you are dumb; maybe you failed in school. Being a designer is not easy. It’s not a time-pass. A lot of research goes into it.

‘Heart to Haat’ aims at creating heirloom pieces, how did you get the idea?

The idea is sustainability. It’s an initiative where we tell people to get their used clothes, like a heavy sari that they don’t wear anymore. We repair and customise them into garments which are more usable in today’s context. It is basically an endeavour to be as creative as we can, with the least amount of material and waste.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 5:12:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fashion/karishma-shahani-her-design-yatra/article6365198.ece

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