“While fashion and style have always kept me going, my creative expression comes from the things that I’m truly passionate about. My passion and love for music, as an incredible art form, made my path cross with Boat,” says designer Masaba Gupta who has collaborated with the consumer electronics brand and “added a Masaba touch” to some of her favourite audio wear, in a promotional video on Instagram. The launch, that took place during the first-ever digital edition of Lakme Fashion Week, also marks the designer’s foray into a new segment.
What is your new collection, boAt X Masaba, all about?
It’s all about nostalgia. We have been very heavily inspired by the disco trend in the 70s, and then given it a millennial twist. They’ll be unisex products, and the idea is to remind people of their school and college days when listening to music and sharing it on Walkmans was a big thing. It reminds you of an old school locker room, backpack or just fun memories with friends. But we have given it a ‘Masaba touch’ with respect to the print but the colours are very different this time — muted tones, especially on the earlobe; but on the main headphones, we do have the signature castings and other things like that. So it’s basically meant to take a very young, new age consumer back to their childhood, or back to school when music was a very big deal.
The pandemic has affected the fashion industry in a huge way, forcing it to go virtual. What other changes do you foresee in the industry’s ‘new normal’?
I’ve been trying to figure that out, too. Three months ago, I had said people are only going to buy loungewear, but a lot of fatigue has set in with that now. People want to go out, dress up, buy fancy things. But I do know one thing for sure, people will really look for value, quality and timeless pieces now. So instead of mindlessly just buying multiple pieces, I think the focus will be on owning a couple of really good things that will transcend trends. But human beings are creatures of comfort, they like routine and like to go back to the way they lived; so I don’t think the new normal can be pushed upon humans. The only new normal will be that you will be wearing masks a lot longer, but in terms of the way people dress, it will go back to the ‘old’ normal.
What has been your biggest learning in the past six months, personally and professionally?
I take too much pressure on myself, viewing everything as a personal problem or failure, which it is not. Also, I think I push myself and have a lot of guilt to do things myself even when my health/body is asking me not to. Professionally, I have learnt that nobody is indispensable. I think businesses have a way of sorting themselves out, life has a way of making you find people to help you sort that out and if you don’t have a business that is adaptable to change, then you may as well not be doing it.
What trends do you see being born out of the pandemic, such as masks, which have been given a complete makeover?
In terms of fashion, brands will start making pieces that are classic as opposed to trends-centric. Also, brands might not do seasonal clothing anymore, they might just do stuff that is more classic and transcends seasons, something that you can pass down to generations. Sustainability will become a big, big topic and people and brands will start buying and investing in things that are more sustainable, benefit the environment and are better for them as well.
What, according to you, has been the industry’s biggest learning from the pandemic?
We have to have businesses that are fluid and focus on the e-commerce model. A lot of Indian brands are so reliant on brick and mortar formats, and look what that did to us. And second, all of us have to slow down. There is no reason to make so many collections and employ so many people; business can be run in a very lean manner and more effectively. Quality over quantity is the biggest story.
As a designer, what do you prefer, a digital fashion show or a physical one, and why?
A digital one; because when we did our Instagram show in (I think) 2015, it was a big hit despite it being the first time we did something like that. That is because you just reach out to a lot more people, it’s less stressful as compared to a physical one for the brands, and is also more cost-effective. It’s a better, more effective way of doing things. You can just watch a show from the comfort of your home, you don’t have to step out.
The pandemic has also ignited meaningful conversations around sustainable fashion. Do you feel the trend picking up in the post-Covid times? What is your personal take on sustainable fashion?
People have to understand that sustainability requires sustainability as well. Fashion is a business and needs to be sustainable on its own first to be able to allow sustainability into its universe. This is because sustainability is expensive. I see people on social media calling to boycott brands that don’t focus on sustainability, etc, but do you know what steps they are taking in order to be sustainable? We did a collection with the UN where we tried to ban plastic, and we as a brand are trying to be plastic-free by the end of 2022 at least, but these things cost money. Why are big brands not doing this? It’s because it takes time, effort and money. The funny thing is you just cannot turn around tomorrow and say I am only going to use organic fabric because sometimes in using that you may actually be damaging the environment. We are all talking about sustainability today but still throwing away our masks at the airport or our plastic containers, so where is sustainability there? It is a pipe dream and if you achieve it, great, but if you can’t, then you have to find ways to be sustainable on a smaller scale.
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