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5 Desi Designers Who Helped India Win the Prestigious International Fashion Showcase Award in London

5 Desi Designers Who Helped India Win the Prestigious International Fashion Showcase Award in London

Participating for the first time at London Fashion Week’s international showcase, Team India beat 26 countries to clinch the trophy.

Held twice a year, London Fashion Week is one of the world’s most influential fashion events, along with fashion weeks in Paris, New York and Milan. Apart from hosting runway shows by top designer labels, the event also includes a showcase for international designers.

This year, India participated for the first time at LFW’s International Fashion Showcase and emerged winner in the Country Showcase category.

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Five designers from various parts of the country were selected to be part of the team. Ragini Ahuja, Ujjawal Dubey, Karishma Shahani-Khan, Alan Alexander and Priyanka Ella Lorena boast distinct aesthetics, but are bound by a common interest in sustainability and local crafts.

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In their debut showcase at London’s renowned Somerset House gallery, the designers worked on the theme “The Indian Pastorialists,” drawing inspiration from pastoral communities around India and their diverse artisanal skills.

“For the country’s new generation of fashion designers, the Indian pastoralist lifestyle offers inspiring solutions to the global fashion industry’s ever-growing focus on sustainability, providing a starting point for contemporary reinterpretations of India’s internationally celebrated textile and craft heritage,” explained the curator’s note.

Karishma, founder of the label Ka-Sha, looked to Kutch’s Rabaari community for inspiration.

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The London College of Fashion alumnus started her brand in 2011, and is known for combining natural fabrics with handmade techniques. The designer found her muse in the nomadic community, whose handicrafts have fascinated her since she was a student. Her creation was a ruffled and colourful homage to the tribe’s traditional costume, with a splash of embroidery and mirror work.

Ujjawal showcased the artisanal crafts of the Van Gujjar community, an elusive forest tribe inhabiting the Himalayan valleys.

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Since he debuted his label Antar-Agni in 2014, Ujjawal has been in the news for his stark, minimalist aesthetic and impeccable cuts. For the exhibit, he blended handwoven cotton and khadi with heavy warp and slubs. The neutral-hues — a signature of the label — of the ensemble highlighted the intricate layering and draping techniques of the tribe.

Ladakh’s Drokpa community played muse to Ragini Ahuja, the founder and creative director of the fashion label Ikai.

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Ragini showcased a modern interpretation of the tribe’s popular sheepskin costume. A pristine white cape fell gently over the mannequin, with beading and 3D embellishment. A jacket overlay was crafted from silk wool jacket and elevated with sheep nappa leather applique.

Priyanka Ella Lorena, founder of the label P.E.L.L.A, chose Sikkim’s indigenous Lachen and Lachung tribes to base her design on.

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Showcasing a two-toned ensemble that replicated the traditional outfits of the tribe, Priyanka sought to highlight the simplicity of the people. “Untouched and unaffected by modernism, they live in a metaphysical state,” said the sustainable designer, who incorporated non-violent Eri silk and yarn waste in the garment.

Emerging designer Alan Alexander took cues from the Toda community to showcase his label Kaleekal.

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The Toda community’s shawl-weaving tradition was reinterpreted by Alan in a collection of three shawls that emphasised on minimal cutting and almost zero wastage. Embellished with Toda embroidery, the shawls were hand-woven in Pashmina wool, Tussar silk and Cashmere wool by local artisans.

You might also like: An Indo-Tibetan Sustainable Fashion Label in the Himalayas Promotes Zero Waste and Slow Fashion

The Indian contingent beat 26 countries to win the Country Showcase award. With a firm stand on sustainable fashion and promotion of local crafts, this is yet another step Indian fashion takes towards establishing itself globally.

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