— Rina Dhaka

One of the pioneering designers in the Eighties, Rina Dhaka transformed the nation into an epicentre of avant-garde fashion. While an intellectual quality evolved as the hallmark of designers, she balanced it with sexy, stylish design that arrested attention worldwide. In conversation with the designer on her change of stratagem due to the pandemic that has sadly caused design houses to shutter their doors and production facilities, furlough their team and postpone runway shows.


Industries have ground to a halt, including Fashion. What are the immediate issues she is dealing with, I ask? ''Finance, labour shortage, reduced orders and a new style of selling. I'm trying my best to not worry. Hibernate. Hear advice on fashion. Since I'm technically challenged, I'm trying to learn simple things like edits. I do have business ideas that I'll formulate into a plan but as of now they are on hold because strategy only works if there is a demand. That said, social distancing is becoming the new normal and e-commerce is the writing on the wall. Tie-ups with e-stores and online sales are the only point of sale. I'm new to this though and only just beginning my journey.''


The pandemic—which has designers captive with time to rethink values—is the time for fashion's sea change; the time to shape what it means to be a sustainable business that integrates environmental, social and purchasing deliberations into core business practice. ''We have to focus on sustainability which includes reduced waste, recycling, upcycling and hanging on to our traditional techniques by infusing it with new energy and ideas. I'm good with waste management and I want to work with the crafts belts again. In fact, I'm already working with Kota with the help of the textile ministry and Khadi India. Rural weavers- handblock printers- artisans are the most widely hit. We can help them by giving them presence in the correct global trade fairs, teach them the new mediums of sale, and if there is budget, PR to establish their presence and body of work. Post- pandemic, I will also work closely with the tribes of India. I will do my bit.''


Should designers use no- touch payment to comply with social distancing norms, I wonder? Would it work at all? ''Of course! It's a must! People now use this mode of payment for fruit-sellers!!'' What can we, the consumer,s do to help sustain livelihood of weavers and craftspeople, I ask her as we wrap up the conversation. ''Consumers have realised they can live with less. But, yes, I would advise them to pay that extra bit to buy and use sustainable handmade products. It will go a long way.''

Rina Dhaka Rina Dhaka



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