India needs to become more inclusive, says Mawi Keivom
Manipur-born, UK-based accessory designer Mawi Keivom’s works have been flaunted across red carpets, worldwide. Before her debut in India, at the summer edition Lakmé Fashion Week, she talks shop with Dhara Vora
Q. What took you so long to be a part of a fashion week in India?
A. Since launching the Mawi brand with my partner Tim Awan, we have worked for over a decade to achieve global success. Now that we have established ourselves, it feels like the right time to return to my homeland and celebrate my Indian heritage.
A glimpse of Mawi’s collection that will be showcased along with clothes by designer Gaurav Gupta
Q. Was it because of a difference in the style sense of your designs and work?
A. India has always been on the agenda but it was about finding the right moment and time to enter the market. There will be a move away from the obvious logo-ed and super branded stuff to more independent labels whose designs offer originality and personality.
Q. We Indians love gold. Do you plan to cater to that market in India or stick to costume jewellery?
A. It has always been my dream to design in precious metals and gemstones. That would be the ultimate luxury. Indian precious jewellery has always been about tradition, and I feel there is a growing audience with a fashion forward vision who would welcome our groundbreaking aesthetics.
Jewellery by Mawi boast of an eclectic edge and gain inspirations from India too
Q. India has never utilised the talent that the North East has to offer; your views?
A. There is immense talent in the North East and it is not to be ignored or dismissed. India needs to become more inclusive, and celebrate its diversity and talent. When people are marginalised and isolated, they have no choice but to carve out their own identity. We are a proud tribal people with a colourful and proud heritage. And, no doubt that there is a huge amount of talent from the North East waiting to be tapped into. I’ve never let myself feel isolated or disadvantaged. Be confident in your art and never give up; the rest will follow.
Accessory designer Mawi Keivom
Q. Tell us about your forthcoming collection.
A. It is a retrospective of my most iconic pieces over past seasons. The selection spans our entire archive, a complete representation of the brand and a celebration of my favourite pieces. This dispersive collection has been named Mawi’s Indian Odyssey as a reference to this homecoming journey.
Q. What’s your take on the fashion jewellery v/s India’s gold jewellery market?
A. The Indian consumer is getting more interested in costume jewellery as a fashion statement. Traditionally, Indians would not dream of spending a huge sum on non-gold or precious gemstones. I feel that mentality is changing.
I love South Indian jewellery and have found some amazing pieces during my travels in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan is another one of my favourite shopping destinations; I’ve amassed quite a collection from my yearly buying trips there. I love Gem Palace — it’s my go-to place while in Jaipur.