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Sunday, November 28, 2021

‘Any industry that doesn’t take sustainability into account is obsolete’: Fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh

"Fashion has had a problematic relationship with the environment in the past, and it’s time to address this," he said.

Written by Shweta Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: October 27, 2021 12:38:39 pm
Rajesh Pratap Singh, fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rajesh Pratap Singh bollywoodRajesh Pratap Singh during a show. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

Fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh’s latest collection was showcased as the finale show on the ‘Sustainable Day’ during the recently-concluded FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week. The collection — The Master’s Words — was a tribute to late designer Satya Paul, who was known for his bold and bright prints.

In keeping with the theme of the collection, we caught up with the ace designer to talk more about the scope of sustainability in fashion, his latest creations, the effect of pandemic on the industry and his views on virtual vis-à-vis physical shows. Excerpts:

You have been associated with the industry for long. How would you describe its evolution?

When we began, the industry was nascent — we were simply invested in giving the industry an identity. We started off with two different fashion weeks, one in Mumbai and one in Delhi. But, a lot of positive changes have happened since then. A combined fashion week is very exciting, and many of the structural and organisational changes that have taken place for the industry are promising.

Sustainable fashion became a buzzword amid the pandemic. But there are a lot of aspects that need to be taken care of before you can actually be ‘sustainable’ in the truest sense. Can you throw light on what sustainable fashion actually is all about?

To create a truly sustainable world, everyone has to play their role: sustainability is only sustainable when we are mindful of each stakeholder, the biggest one being the environment. It’s quite clear though that making a few pretty clothes for a few people is just not enough. Fashion has had a problematic relationship with the environment in the past, and it’s time to address this.

Rajesh Pratap Singh, fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rajesh Pratap Singh bollywood Models showcase creations for Tencel X Rajesh Pratap Singh for Satya Paul at the FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week 2021.
(Photo : FS Images / FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week / RISE Worldwide)

In a similar vein, how do you ensure sustainability in your creations?

As I’ve said earlier, any industry that doesn’t take sustainability into account is obsolete. At Satya Paul, our endeavour to be as sustainable as possible continues. We’re constantly trying to improve our manufacturing and retail processes to be more sustainable. It’s a work in progress, but I think we are getting somewhere.

Can you give us a peek into your latest collection — Tencel x Satya Paul by Rajesh Pratap Singh?

The collection is in memory of Satya Paul, who we lost earlier this year. Paul lived a vibrant, inspiring life — this reflected in the bold prints he used. I also have a vivid memory of how he used calligraphy — quotes from thinkers like Rumi and Osho lived with him. It is this dual play with colors and wisdom that is the primary inspiration for this collection.

This collection is a burst of optimism at a time of global volatility. It’s a dialogue between the past and present, and shows us that ancient wisdom is always relevant in our world. The possibilities for abundant peace, love and joy — words that appear in this collection — are drawn from ancient, calligraphic texts and translated to bright colors and uplifting hues.

Rajesh Pratap Singh, fashion designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rajesh Pratap Singh bollywood Models at the FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week 2021 at Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai: (FS Images / FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week / RISE Worldwide)

What according to you has been the industry’s biggest learning in the last two years?

Thanks to the pandemic, everybody in the industry has had a crash course in digital marketing, production and selling. What we would have learnt in a decade, we have learned in a year. So that has been the biggest learning.

Some eco-friendly materials that are as versatile but are yet to be recognised to their true potential?

Environment-friendly materials and production require a wholesome outlook. What is eco-friendly might not be entirely sustainable in the long run and to be sustainable it must be mass produced and have commercial viability otherwise it doesn’t work. A lot of R&D has been done in making materials more sustainable but the production capacities and viabilities are being worked out. Successful production will take all this into consideration.

Fashion shows went virtual — what is your take on virtual vis-à-vis physical/phygital shows?

Both I guess. Before the pandemic we had an overdose of fashion weeks and shows… each town in the country wanted to have a fashion week and I think the charm of going to a show and even the people who were doing the shows did not understand the medium too well. They were just in a rush to do shows. It had become like a mass produced cheap product. We’ve learnt to value and see the virtues of a physical show in the period we didn’t do it. Now, the phygital presents new opportunities.

The Big Four concluded recently — can you share the most striking trend/collection from any of the shows across the four weeks?

Lazy as it might sound, I really don’t see shows anymore, unless there is a reason why it has been recommended to me. There was a time when I was a part of the circuit and  used to see everything. But now, just trying to be on trend is uninspiring to me.

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