It’s no secret that I’m a huge resort wear enthusiast! If I ever get the opportunity to start my own clothing brand, it’ll definitely revolve around resort and cruise wear; especially as India has the perfect weather conditions to wear such garments all-year-round. One of the subcategories of resort wear is, of course, beach fashion. The apparel is finally having a moment nationwide, thanks to India Beach Fashion Week 2015, which was held at the Lalit Golf and Spa Resort, Goa, from 29 – 31 October, 2015.
I had a digital tête-à-tête over email with one of the designers who showcased her line at IBFW 2015, Day 1. Shweta Puthran launched her premium yet wearable label with her signature collection, ‘Southern Sway.’ Inspired by her eternal love for South India, Puthran has created garments that rejoice the splendour of the human body whilst illustrating the rich heritage of her roots.
Traditional, architectural science prints come alive on fabrics like silk habutai, flat chiffon, cotton silk, neoprene, and scuba. The earthy colour palette boasts shades like oxblood, marcella, mustard, grey, mauve, nude, taupe, and olive green – all inspired by the mesmerizing mountain ranges, the lush greens, and the sandy-shell beaches that lace Southern India.
Whether you’re prepping for a beach party, packing for a cruise vacation, or simply heading to a fun resort soiree, Puthran’s designs cater to every occasion. From tailored jackets and free-flowing capes to embellished crop tops and cutout swimsuits, there’s something for everyone!
The designer answered some of my queries about the industry and resort fashion as well. I’m so excited to share this exclusive exchange right here with all of you! Here goes:
Q – How did you get into fashion design and come up with the idea of your own brand?
SP – Like most girls, when I was in school, I was intrigued by good clothing. As years passed, the interest grew, and by the time I was done with college, I was certain of being part of the business of fashion. While researching colleges, I had a clear vision that I wanted to study in Milan, the fashion capital of the world! It’s the air of the city, the people you meet – it felt I’d learn a great deal. And I did!
After my post-graduation in Fashion Communication from IED, Milan, I came back to Mumbai to foray into the fashion industry. I didn’t want to be just a fashion designer, I wanted to be part of the entire gamut of marketing, retail, and so on. That’s how Smendons Fashion Private Limited was formed in July 2014, with the launch of brand Change360°, for fashion conscious men/women in cities and tier 2 towns, between the ages of 18-35 years. The brand has an exclusive brand store in Mangalore and is available in multi-brand outlets in India.
Now, with the aim of reaching out to a different segment we are launching an eponymous label. The first collection under this label, ‘Southern Sway,’ is under the beach/resort wear category, and so we decided to launch at the India Beach Fashion Week 2015 in Goa.
Q – What makes your brand stand out from other designer labels?
SP – We have used a lot of structured, architectural prints play on flowy fabric, which is not common for designers to experiment with.
Q – Where is your store/workshop located?
SP – We are based out of Mumbai. At the moment we are selling the Shweta Puthran label collection through our website only.
Q – What kind of fabrics do you work with and prefer using?
SP – In the ‘Southern Sway’ collection, to achieve the resort/cruise wear look, the fabrics used are Silk Habutai, Flat Chiffon, Cotton Silk, Cotton Satin, Neoprene and Scuba.
Q – How often are you planning to add new collections to the store?
SP – We plan to introduce a new collection every quarter.
Q – Tell us the inspiration behind your collection and how it was conceptualised.
SP – The collection ‘Southern Sway’ takes deep inspiration from the temples of South India; you will see this being mirrored in the prints. The colour palette comes from the vast coastal bay of the region. On the whole, you will witness abstract impressions of temple interiors set in a quirky manner with colours that go in sync with what’s in season. Southern Sway will appeal to any woman between the age group of 25 to 40.
Q – What is your take on the burgeoning Indian resort wear fashion industry?
SP – It’s an exciting space to be in! As Indians, we are changing the way we dress when we are on a holiday. We are more exposed to international trends and are, in our own way, crafting trends that are workable in our region. More people want fashionable ‘wearable’ clothes, and that’s a huge opportunity for any designer/fashion house to captialize on.
Q – What/who do you think is responsible for the popularity of this fashion season in India?
SP – The advent of how fashion is perceived with increasing accessibility to international brands has evolved the industry in recent years. With increased travel exposure, as Indians, we are now open to exploring alternate clothing options – apart from what’s not traditionally the salwar kurta or kurta jeans. It’s about being comfortable and being one with what you are wearing. With this change in dynamics, designers are now free to explore segments within the apparel category, or even accessories for that matter. It’s no more just bridal wear; it’s destination bride. It’s no more bikini-sarong for a beach holiday; it’s a stylish cover-up or a comfy palazzo pant. So, it’s the entire market place that’s undergoing an evolution – the designers, buyers, customers.
Q – Indians are still not very open to wearing swimwear and beachwear. Do you think such clothing can ever truly do well in India? Will India Beach Fashion Week (IBFW) play a crucial role in that?
SP – Indians are no longer necessarily taking vacations within India, they travel overseas. While it will take time for mindsets to change, the definition of resort/beach wear has also undergone change – it’s not just one-two piece bikinis. It is kaftans, palazzos, flowy garments. Till about recently, the ‘beach/resort category’ was just a segment at renowned fashion weeks, but now there is a dedicated fashion week just for this category – that speaks a lot about the change we are undergoing.
The India Beach Fashion Week is a good platform that supports a category that has immense potential to grow. To a large extent, people now know resort wear/beach wear is not cliché clothing restricted to a particular garment style, thanks to such fashion weeks.
Q – How far do you think designers can go with this trend, given the various taboos in our country?
SP – It is a challenge designers have taken on to create wearable resort/beach wear, while keeping our country’s sentiments in mind. And that’s how you have designers such as Shivan and Narresh, wholly solely catering to the luxury resort-wear segment; they have been highly successful.
Q – Finally, please tell us 3 beachwear must-haves every woman should own!
SP – Cover-ups, a good bikini and sunglasses.