Fashion

Sculpting khadi for NYFW

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For an 18-month-old brand to make it to one of the main shows at New York Fashion Week is quite an achievement. Sweta Agarwal’s label, A Humming Way, was one of six designers who was part of the Emerging Designer Collective, curated by the CAAFD (Council of Aspiring American Fashion Designers) last month.

While the showcase is similar to the Gen Next show at Lakme Fashion Week, Agarwal was contacted by the American non-profit organisation after they saw her clothing at other international shows, and on the runway at Alta Roma in July this year. The designer, who focusses on fabric sculpting and manipulation, with khadi being her material of choice, had to go through two more rounds before the final selection.

“It is no longer surprising when newer Indian designers make it to the international arena. People from the industry are curious and encouraging when we meet them, and are very interested in what we have to offer,” she says. Explaining that she likes to use the same fabrics to create different aesthetics, Agarwal adds that the entire collection was hand-made. “I called the line ‘Matsutake’, as it was inspired by the exotic mushroom. I see it as a ray of hope, the way it grows when disturbed by the rain.”

The 17 pieces she put on the runway had several surface embellishment techniques. And it wasn’t just hand embroidery — although that was present too, along with hand-painted motifs. Asymmetrical khadi dresses featured rug hooking (where carpets are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base) as embroidery. Organza jackets showcased sequins and thread work accents on the sleeves, while patchwork midi skirts had a playful peekaboo effect with sheer material. Structured corsets and peplum blouses also made an appearance. These garments will be available in India, on her website, shortly.

Although she opted for a group show over a solo one, the experience has given her a lot of exposure, attending trade shows and meeting buyers. “We will be evaluating and capitalising on these contacts,” she concludes.

The Matsutake collection ranges from approximately ₹63,000 to ₹1.27 lakh. On ahummingway.com

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