I’m a seamstress first and then a designer. I’m minimalistic because I’m working in the factory all the time. I consider myself the labour class,” said fashion designer Monisha Jaising, opening up about her philosophy on fashion. In the latest edition of Time Pass — a series of conversations hosted by The New Indian Express Group, Monisha engaged in a freewheeling chat with author and senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai and Edison Thomas, editor of Indulge.
“The pandemic has had an effect on all sectors of the economy, but the sectors that have been seriously hit come under non-essential spending, and fashion is one of them,” she said, adding, “From production companies to trading countries, everybody was in the rat race to get the new collections out on time, to have a certain turnover every season, and as a result the environment was being abused.
Now, it has changed for good as production is as per demand.” In the post-COVID era, Monisha believes that the pattern of buying would see a big change. “People are no longer going to buy just for the sake of buying. They will buy if there is an occasion, or necessity. One will obviously think of its durability, functionality and comfort before making a choice,” she noted. Does that mean we bid farewell to fast fashion? “I feel that high-street stores like H&M and Zara will survive.
They will just have to rebrand their production and stop overproducing. They will continue to churn out new collections every three months because fashion is something that you get bored of in some time,” she clarified. The fashion designer agreed that with most people working from home, their fashion choices have also changed. “In Zoom meetings, people focus more on the top part. Also, bright colours really work on the digital screen; they are attractive.
Leisurewear and athleisure have been big for a long time. They have been worn by celebrities for airport looks, and now for Zoom meetings. What’s nice about it is that although there is a sense of luxury, it is also comfortable and functional.” With thirty years of industry experience, Monisha’s design philosophy has “been pretty much the same. We have always looked at western cuts and shapes but give it an Indian twist by using Indian fabrics, embellishments or motifs.
There is something about India in every garment that I make.” The pandemic has also forced her to make some changes in her designs. “We are trying to make garments that are affordable as everyone’s facing an economic crisis. We are also making our designs functional, with pockets to keep a sanitiser and mask in it,” she explained. What does this mean for fashion weeks in a world hit by the pandemic? “All the fashion capitals including London, Milan, Paris, New York have announced that they are going to go ahead with the fashion weeks in the digital space.
In India also, FDCI is planning something similar in November. It is going to be virtual for some time, but it will happen, because it is an important platform for designers to show their collections,” she remarked. Monisha also works with weavers and artisans who are migrant labourers. and had gone back to their families.“Some of them have come back, so we have started work at 50 per cent capacity. Many found employment in their home state,” she shared, adding that she has been helping some of her ex-workers, who have started their own small business.