KOCHI: We are probably the worst dressed country in the world. Because we are not wearing the clothes we are supposed to be wearing,” said designer Anuj Sharma. The Ahmedabad-based designer was speaking at a workshop, where he taught participants on the technique of creating garments without a single stitch, organised by Save the Loom at Pepper House in Fort Kochi the other day.
Substantiating his claims, Anuj asks a question to his listeners, which sounds funny but poignant on second thoughts: “Who looks more gentlemanly: A man in a suit or another in a dhoti?” The colonial era, he says, has influenced Indians deeply especially with the way of clothing. “By embracing the Western style of clothing, we have adapted to clothes that restrict us.
Indians, in general, move their limbs a lot. One’s body movements define the culture of his or her place and the weather of that certain area. This is why Indian clothes were loose fitting earlier. From clothes that suited the weather, we have long since moved to clothes that don’t actually work out, which does not allow respiration and free body movements,” he says.
According to Anuj, the design system defines who we are. “As of now, the focus is on how we look. What one needs to realise is that a fabric carries value and information about society and life,” he says.And this is exactly where Anuj’s brainchild ‘Button Masala’ comes into the picture. That too, in the limelight. “Button Masala is a basic concept of buttons and buttonholes,” he says.
Though it sounds simple, Button Masala is an active tool in demystifying the perspectives of designs. “I had once seen a man on the street. He had buttoned his shirt wrong. If one button is looped the wrong way, it is a mistake. So that got me thinking,” the designer says. Using a lot of buttons attached to the fabric at equal distances, Anuj used a grid system in which straps (made out of fabric) help drape the fabric on the body. “There are endless possibilities with the same fabric,” he says. And all of this without a single stitch.
Now, what inspired him to start Button Masala? “Laziness. I am committed lazy,” jokes Anuj. Read: “I prefer making clothes inspired by daily life in a very short amount of time.”Having received rave reviews about his initiative at fashion shows in the country and abroad, Anuj now spends his dear time organising workshops where he teaches people about the technique. “For years, I have been trying to make people create their own clothes. Nobody thinks they can design. Other than the designers, of course,” he says. Already committed to various social causes across the world, Button Masala has opened a dialogue and newer perspectives especially in the field of sustainability and gender fluidity.