Comfy fashion as the ultimate luxury
When the infection storm blows over, designers predict the return of sensible fashion over ostentatious. The 21-day lockdown is a good time for them to show off what stylish, comfy work clothes can look like
As I write this column, I am wearing Anokhi's block-printed palazzos, and a cotton T-shirt by Lacoste that has now become second skin with multiple wears. Some days, I am in shorts; a kurta gets thrown into the mix on other days. This is my work-from-home style, and I write on fashion.
Jeans are too stuffy for Mumbai's year-round mugginess, pyjamas or sweatpants too shabby for even a work-from-home fashion journalist.
And my deliberations on what I wear at home are now mirrored in the debates gaining traction online around a new order in dressing for office.
What some of us are asking is, has the constant exposure to all things new and trendy turned our focus away from the big picture; from the truth that comfort is the ultimate luxury. "This period of austerity is going to scar us in a way that we will start questioning what it means to indulge in apropos clothing. Ornamentation will take a backseat, and most of us will adopt a uniform of simpler essentials," believes Nimish Shah, creative director at Bhaane.
Clothes are silent communicators of what you think of yourself, and what other people think of you. This is why, the influential designers are given to a uniform of comfort wear, whether it's Sabyasachi Mukherjee in his white kurta, roomy trousers and bundi jacket; Kallol Datta in his brooding black outfits; or Anavila Misra in her linen sarees. But the perks go beyond disciplining your wardrobe, with a uniform, there is no room for distraction. "I'm mother to a 10-year-old girl, and a designer running between a workshop, studio and two stores, and my home. I can't be bothered spend ing time on what to wear every morning, or whether my blouse is too short or tight. I believe in practical clothing that takes me from morning to night. My personal preference also informs the way I design," Payal Khandwala shares.
Anjali Patel Mehta of Studio Verandah began her designing career in 2012 at her Peddar Road home with one tailor. Her goal was singular—to make comfortable clothes. "Back then, apart from a few designers like Saviojon Fernandes, nobody made functional clothes that looked stylish. You can't cook in front of a stove wearing a kurta with billowing sleeves, can you?" asks Mehta.
When all this is behind us, Mehta hopes women will see value in thoughtful clothing, and make choices that are steered by the question, how can I dress sensibly?
Ashdeen Lilaowala, Working from home for 10 days
At work attire: It's never formal. Usually jeans and a shirt, sometimes I pair trousers with a short kurta by Rajesh Pratap Singh. I loved wearing shorts to work, but had to stop after I launched my store at Defence Colony, Delhi. I encourage my karigars to come to work in shorts during the summers, though. It's during the winters when I accessorise with a scarf or layer up.
Outfit for self-isolation: At home, you'll find me in the iconic Bawa home uniform—Parsi religious tunic or the sudreh, and shorts.
Gautam Sinha, Nappa Dori, Working from home for seven days
At work attire: It is sharp casuals; jeans, T-shirt, a jacket. For meetings, I'd wear a shirt, jacket, jeans and white Keds. This is a good time to take it easy.
With offices in Mumbai, New Delhi and London, we are constantly communicating via video calls. I could be butt naked, but I will make sure I am dressed up waist-up.
Outfit for self-isolation: Pyjamas should not be worn to work, or anywhere.
Payal Khandwala, Working from home for 16 days
At work attire: I am a huge believer of a work uniform, which changes every six months. Right now, it's between a long shirt-like tunic, and a kurta, both in assorted colourways. I change it up with different trousers to make it look like a new outfit, and accessorise with jewellery if I have evening plans.
Outfit for self-isolation: I don't wear pyjamas except when I go to bed.
Nimish Shah, Bhaane, Working from home since first week of March
At work attire: I don't dress to play a part, nor do I spend too much time ruminating over what to wear every morning. My personal style is elevated generic; a jacket thrown over a T-shirt and jeans, which gets carried forward to office as well.
Outfit for self-isolation: I don't own PJs. Just because you are working from home doesn't mean you are on holiday. I continue to wake up at 6.30 am, shower, shave, and get dressed. Self-isolation does not mean shabby; it's not a free pass to skip a shower.
Anjali Patel Mehta, Studio Verandah Working from home for nine days
At work attire: It’s a loungewear uniform of loose kurtas and linen shirts over trousers, and long dresses—much like the clothes we design. At times, it’s a T-shirt or a ganji, but I always team it with an overlay or scarf. It’s a printed suit and trousers for meetings. It could be because of my South Indian upbringing, but we follow a no-footwear policy inside our office and workshop.
Outfit for self-isolation: Pyjamas mean sleep-time, and that’s not good for productivity.
A few good men and a woman
Designers who depend on artisans, vendors and weavers, are doing all they can to support the backbone of the fashion industry
NOT so long ago, Instagram was a playground for big names working with Made in India heritage luxury to make a splash about their new collections. But that changed almost as quickly as it takes to switch into a different outfit. Apart from making appeals to #StayResponsible and #StayatHomeIndia, these big players have hit pause on their operations, and are stepping forward to pledge support to the community of weavers and artisans.
The Anita Dongre Foundation has announced a medical fund of R1.5 crore for treatment that covers the brand’s smaller vendors, self-employed artisans, and partners who do not have access to medical insurance or coverage.
“As an entrepreneur, I can tell you it’s a frightening and lonely situation to be in, with no revenue and continued expenditures,” reads a message by Sabya on his social media page. He took a call to shut down every single one of his factories, and sent his staff home on paid leave. He has pledged R10 crore of his personal funds to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, and an additional R5 crore to the Chief Minister of West Bengal’s relief fund, with an expectation that the funds be used to ramp up medical facilities.
The house of Angadi
Founder, CEO and design head-The House of Angadi, K Radharaman has pledged never to allow the looms to go silent. He has resolved to provide 100 per cent wage support to their weavers and craftspeople in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, Arni village in Rajasthan and Kotah. “We had distributed free sanitisers and soaps to the weavers
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