“It was in October 2014, I was discussing with my wife Svetlana about how to take the label international and surprisingly after one week, I received the invite from the Woolmark Company to participate and this is how my journey to International Woolmark Prize initiated with the support of IMG Reliance, the fashion body behind my nomination for the Prize this year”, recollects, designer Suket Dhir, who won this year’s International Woolmark Prize (IWP) India, Pakistan and Middle East regional finale for menswear category at Dubai recently.
“Initially the whole idea did not sit well with me and once I started looking for an inspiration for the outfit, it became more complex. But then my son Zorawar came as savior. While I was playing with him, I got nostalgic about the mango orchids at my native place in Jalandhar. My grandfather’s simple and thoughtful dressing has always inspired me. His loose palazzo trousers clubbed with crisp shirt has inspired my silhouette. And the Kasuti embroidery details on the jacket were inspired from the mango fruit,” says Suket about the winning outfit.
“The label as a whole also has a deep influence from the television series of Malgudi Days,” adds the winning designer, dressed in a blue-toned trouser and deep grey t-shirt.
As a designer, Suket casts down seasonal dressing and believes in crafting trans-seasonal garments. “Not only this (winning) outfit, but my entire label has always been about trans-seasonal dressing. The reason is climate of the country which is majorly hot and humid,” he says.
Ask him if he feels any pressure of being in the finale round of International Woolmark Prize that will take place in Florence, Italy, next January, pat comes the reply, “Not at all. Actually, I always keep myself under pressure, so there is no scope for any external force to affect me. As far as the collection and performance pressure is concerned, I am quite excited, as it will give me the platform to showcase my work which I am proud of as an Indian.”
“I want to create a legacy in menswear dressing that will be rememberd for generations,” he says further.
For Suket, it’s been a roller coaster ride and he owes the success to his family, employees, wellwishers and above all, his mentor Asha Bakshi, former Dean, NIFT, who had been his guide throughout his career.
In this success story, Raymond also played a crucial role in sponsoring the yarn for Suket’s winning outfit. Suket feels it is a perfect synergy between industry, technology and handcrafting. “We as designers need support and I think Raymond played its role this time. But, still in the industry, funding and marketing needs the guidance of experienced minds, because somewhere this barrier has obstructed the talents to go global or make it large in the country as well. Moreover, we as designers also need to be little more enterprising. To add to that, the spice of awards and recognition by government and council adds to the flavour of fashion. The overall communication channel needs to be re-designed and we are almost there,” says Suket.
Suket is optimistic about the global presence of Indian fashion designers in international market. “Manish Arora and Rahul Mishra are to name a few, who have opened the gateways for the younger generation. All we need to do is to understand the market and be loyal to our craft and identity. At present the visibility is limited, but the way opportunities are being catered, future is definitely upbeat,” says the 35-year-old designer.
“Lead by example is my way of contributing to the growth of the industry. If you stick to ethics, be consistent in your work and people start recognising it, I believe the purpose is solved. For me, the place where I stand today, if my achievement can affect even a single designer to make it big, my motive is attained, signs off Suket, as he leaves for a coffee treat with Svetlana.