Silk Route: Ahead of AIFW, designer Samant Chauhan on commercial, innovation and fashion

Bhagalpur boy Samant Chauhan on his opening show at Amazon India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2018 and his love affair with the gossamer textiles of his hometown

Written by Kimi Dangor | Updated: March 14, 2018 4:19:24 pm
File photo of Samant Chauhan

AS a seven-year-old, Samant Chauhan saw the townspeople guarding the copper wires that were installed to supply electricity to his little corner of Bhagalpur against petty thieves. At 37, the designer is all set to step into the arclights as his label takes to the runway for the opening show of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Autumn-Winter 2018 edition that opens in Delhi today. He has travelled far from the bylanes of Bhagalpur and Jamalpur in Bihar, to his own studio and manufacturing facility in Shahpur Jat in Delhi.

“When we started out nearly 12 years ago, the learning curve was quite steep. I’d never worked with a designer before. It took seven years of incessant struggle to get to a point where we have a team of 200 people and can now enjoy our success,” says the National Institute of Fashion Technology graduate. Over the years, his brand vision and signature style have been amended, but what has endured is his love for the textiles from his hometown. The Bhagalpuri tussar silks he first made his debut with continue to form a part of the Samant Chauhan Signature line. His label might have further bifurcated into a pret line aimed for the international market and a Rajputana line that caters to the Middle Eastern and Indian wedding market, but the silk, cotton and linen blends he uses continue to be woven in Bhagalpur.

While market forces propelled him towards embroidery and finery, he chose to launch his Rajputana label and tell the story of Rajasthan without colour and with subtlety. While this all-white bordering on couture line may not have won over the critics, Chauhan has no qualms in admitting that it’s his label’s money-spinner.

For the Autumn-Winter 2018 show though, Samant has decided to turn the game on its head. “It’s a Glitch” will see Chauhan’s colour prism move from all white to all black, with a smattering of white. For perhaps the first time, he will play with sequins, beads and send out never-before shapes and silhouettes.

The designer who has preferred organic fabrics, will throw in a few polyester pieces too. “There’s a new breed of designers that believe, and rightly so, to some extent, that it’s far more eco-friendly to recycle polyester than to grow more organic cotton that consumes a lot of water,” he says.

In a reversal of format, too, his couture creations will walk out first, followed by diffusion and then pret pieces, striking a balance between his commercial calling and what he loves to create. Even as he makes last-minute changes to the line-up of “It’s a Glitch”, Chauhan gives credit to his team. “We’re building a solid team. Someday the label will become self-sustaining and run without me,” he says.

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