— Jasmeen Dugal
Hand-woven textiles and handloom weaves — that beautifully showcase the nation's rich culture and heritage — is the DNA of 'Vaishali S' since its launch in 2001 and the label has since stayed committed to the indigenous weaver. In conversation with the designer on the launch of her e-commerce portal that shares her vision, connects with the global consumer and takes them on a tour of her new store at Kala Ghoda Mumbai and retails her collections.
What are your thoughts on digital showings? Would it work? More importantly would it get the attention of key buyers, consumers and media, I ask her? ''I believe a lot in what I do, since the very beginning. What I do, can only be conveyed as a whole, which is quite difficult through the virtual mode. Couture is a show of stunning looks, but also of researched textures, right flow of drapes and coordinated accessories. Nevertheless, in this period we don't have many choices. Technology provides us with other advantages like wider reach, more information that can be made available, more choices… which we were already eyeing. What we are trying to do is to use technology to the maximum while keeping the last mile as personal as possible, and while humanising it as much as possible.''
Is your new e-store a way to stay in business until the pandemic curve flattens or is it a long-term vision to stay connected with buyers, I wonder? ''This e-commerce store was an acceleration forced by the pandemic, on something we were already experimenting with. Digital has many advantages. I have clients all around the world. So it is a way of tele-transporting part of the Vaishali S Kala Ghoda boutique experience into their homes, widen the reach of the brand and keep in touch with our loyal clients… while sharing our emotions of the moment. Our virtual store is only the starting point of a process of customer centricity that we believe in, complemented with several other personal services.''
While consumer engagement with fashion may be high as they find themselves at home, scrolling social media and designer's websites, is traffic translating to sales, I ask? ''People have pulled back on expenses like eating out, travel and holidays, so we don't see this pullback from spending on beautiful garments. Rather, there is an increased interest in how these garments have been conceived and manufactured. Sustainability and hand weaves are growing interest and these are the two points Vaishali S started with! That is what we have always stood for! The digital channel allows is to share all this information too…''
Your brand is synonymous with sustainable fashion, slow fashion. Do you feel an intelligently choreographed slowdown is the way out for designers, I ask as we wrap the interview. ''I've always been very uncomfortable with multiple collections and with throwing away garments after a short time. My garments are consciously made to last a lifetime. Many sets — especially bridal — can also be worn as single pieces with a pair of jeans or with a white shirt; you can check out the latest bridal collection, in which I have focused a lot on this, as much as on exquisite design and a subtle hide and seek play of reveal. All my fabrics are hand woven on my own designs. I believe now it is badly needed and I'm happy to see important institutions like The FDCI have undertaken campaigns in this regard: the sector needs guidance in this direction, for the sake of its own survival. Customers will definitely appreciate it.''
14 April 2020 9:00 pm NOTES FROM THE INTERIORS OF ASSAM
14 April 2020 8:16 pm LIFE AFTER THE PANDEMIC
6 March 2020 8:17 pm GLOBAL DESIGN STEEPED IN INDIAN SUSTAINABLE TRADITION