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Designer Abhishek Dutta has carved a niche in Kolkata's Fashion landscape. A Wigan Leigh alumnus, his is one of the most awaited shows at Fashion Week. Here, he shares his feelings about a Fashion project with inmates of Presidency Correctional Home.


''I'd like to pen a blog on our association with Presidency Correctional Home in Alipore, Kolkata where, for the first time, my team is conducting workshops within the jail premises and we have set up 24 state-of-the-art sewing machines for inmates to design and produce a collection, to be sold at government outlets, Biswa Bangla and Tantuja.


The correctional home authorities had approached me to do something for the inmates and that is how the idea was conceived. I'm happy and surprised that what was projected actually took shape in no time. The entire unit got set up in just two weeks, breaking the myth about government projects taking ages! Thanks to the DG and IG of Correctional Services, West Bengal Arun Kumar Gupta, there are almost 41 inmates who have been selected for this unit which measures around 8,000 sq feet. They are presently being trained in Fashion Design… and will soon be making men's Nehru jackets, kurtas and shirts and women's kurtas, palazzos and dhoti pants i.e. a pret line. Since I have a collaboration with Tantuja and Biswa Bangla they will be involved in the production of that line. The ultimate goal is to give them a secure job at my unit after their release and giving them a sense of direction so that they do not drift to the negative side of life again. There is a lot of prejudice associated with prisoners hence they do not get employment. In the past, there have been training programmes for inmates but they could not put those skills to use. Giving them jobs at my units will prove to be a strong financial support for their families. 


I plan to extend this project to other correctional homes, and maybe in future, open exclusive store for inmates' products. They hesitate to talk about their life stories but it has just been few days. I guess it takes time to open up. Also, I wanted to mention here that I was amazed to see the work environment inside — it is very peaceful, and as a creative person, I miss that! It's not easy to train them though but if given time this project can jump by leaps and bounds! The launch took place in the presence of Bengali actor Parambrata Chatterjee of 'Kahani' fame… he came forward to extend his support. We are also planning a showcase in June which will be attended by the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee and celebrities from different walks of life have already extended their support to walk for this show!''

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