Ekà means ek or one in Sanskrit. Tell us more about your connection with the number one and how this links back to your design sensibility?
Ekà means one or the whole. I always wanted to create clothes that breathe and encapsulate the essence of Indian textiles and craftsmanship. I wanted to make contemporary clothing from India but aimed at a global customer. I realized how important it was to find a name that silently yet cohesively combined the multitude of skill sets required to make a single collection.
Ekà was actually meant to be the name of my first collection but it somehow got carried forward as the brand name.
What does this collection (SS16) mean to you and what are some standout pieces in your mind?
This is a very easy collection. I’ve done a mix of pastels and bright tones using vermillion red, sunshine yellow, royal cobalt along with the muted pale yellows, moss greens and earthy browns. I derived inspiration from a bucolic feeling hence used washed linens, natural tones, stripes and layers of crocheted cotton-silk linings to give everything a very organic feeling.
If I had to pick a stand out then I’d suggest the striped linen shift dresses layered with a jamdaani summer dress worn inside.
You’ve said that you incorporate stories into your designs, that’s what your AW2015 collection was centered around. How do you actually manage to do that? How do you connect a personal story to a piece of clothing?
My AW15 collection called Seekers Keepers was a very strong and personal collection. I reached out to friends and family and asked them to send me a story from their lives, anything that had left an impression in their memory. The stories poured in, from the most trivial moments that became somehow unforgettable to heart-wrenching stories of love and loss. Story telling is about building a theme, an era, a time and characters who become part of this story. I then attempt to give them shapes, colours and layers; though this process may sound very obscure, as a designer it worked well for me.
You’ve had incredible success both in India and internationally, what do you think about fashion and design in India versus other countries?
Fashion design in India is still at a very nascent change, and for my category of clothes, quite arbitrary. Being such a large country with an incredible demographic, come along many tastes and choices. Internationally people always seem clearer about the choices available, in India it seems we are still in the process of building and creating these choices and options. In other countries, I find there is much less stereotyping and a more early adopters where people follow individual aesthetics and have the ability to buy unique pieces in specialty stores and boutiques. In India, we are still struggling with this concept.
How do you manage to create a collection that transcends those boundaries?
Although I am based in India, working with local skill sets and textiles, I was lucky to be exposed to an international mindset early on in my career.
The woman who wears my clothes may or may not be Indian, she is self-assured and independent and makes individualistic choices in her clothing. She cares about luxury as much as she does about comfort and quality. I like to believe my clothes will look just as good on a woman on the streets of Milan or Paris, as they do in Delhi or Mumbai. My concept of fashion transcends the ideas of age, race, shape and culture, in order to truly become something that can be accepted worldwide.
What is the way forward for sustainable fashion in India?
Sustainability is the only way forward, across the world. Anything to do with improving or being sensitive to the environment is a movement that is important and will never go out of fashion. We see a strong connection between sustainable fashion and comfortable silhouettes with zero ornamentation.
Shop Eka at Le Mill