Thankfully, one trend that has not yet made a comeback is no-clothes”, says Hemant Sagar on designer duo Lecoanet Hemant, and waits, rightly, for his listener to process his lightning quick speech. He smiles as he sees a smile on the face of his interlocutor after they understand what he just said.
Hemant made this witty remark when, talking about fashion, he was asked if it was a cycle which repeats periodically. “Theoretically, whole point in fashion is to have new collections every year, and religiously not market anything old. Fashion is something which demarcates itself from last season and will be different from the next. You have to base it on precise ideas, trends, plans and projects supported by research and development. Nothing has ever comeback the way it was before,” he said, illustrating his point.
On a busy Monday afternoon, the factory of Lecoanet Hemant runs like a well oiled machine as Hemant navigates us through maze like corridors showing us the basic mechanism that has helped this brand to churn out international trends for over three decades now. Pattern room, cutting room, assembly room, show room and even a basement laboratory, furnished with a microscope, hot-air oven, multi-cycle wash and even a lighting machine, where it all starts.
“India is number one country for textile production, but it is not a big country for research and development, we have this thing about respecting things as they are. Where in Italy you get about 300 choices of base material you get only about 30 to 40 here. We often have to reconstitute fabrics for a lot of our haute couture collections from the scratch,” Hemant explains.
This was not the only problem the designer duo had to encounter when they moved their base to India, about 8 years ago. “Indian factories have a 40% rate of absenteeism. The workers would do something else if it that gives them a better salary. It is a serious and complex problem in the country. Some even put themselves on multiple payrolls and go to the factory where they can overtime,” Hemant explains, talking about their early days in the country.
‘Theoretically, whole point in fashion is to have new collections every year, and religiously not market anything old. Fashion is something which demarcates itself from last season and will be different from the next. You have to base it on precise ideas, trends, plans and projects supported by research and development. Nothing has ever comeback the way it was before,” says Hemant.
Hemant says, with tone of someone who means business, at the stagnation and limited understanding of fashion technology in the country. “What we sought to do was pattern making, different kinds, and right from the start. That needs a lot of creativity and innovative approach. And we did not find it here at first; we really had to train our workers from the start.”
Did these issues ever become a major difference of opinion between the two partners, one of whom, Didier Lecoanet, was French? “Didier knew and loved India before we met in Paris, for the first time in the 70s. There were no questions of going back and settling the brand in Paris. We took the situations here as a challenge and worked to solve them. Certainly, there are discussions but its more about how to get it done rather than staying or why are we here?” Hemant responded.
Taking us to the pattern room the designer stops to show us one of their latest creations, still in the making, an open back jacket. A surprising piece of clothing designed to have a character or its own but also gives a lot of opportunity to the wearer to play around with it. “Is it meant to be a jacket or a shirt?” Hemant was asked. “Wear it as you like it’s your back,” he responded. This seems to be the idea behind the creations of the duo of designers that who believe firmly in the freedom of self-expression.
Hemant says that the world of fashion is in the future and that he never looks back, so looking to the future they are all set to launch Ayurganic.com. “It’s an ayurvedic garment collection. Clothes made out of purest of the pure, virgin GOTS cotton. The material is firstly treated for over 15 days at an ayurvedic center in Kerala, the cotton is infused and cultured with herbal oils and dried in sunlight. The clothes would be basic stay at home clothes but they are meant to procure you a certain kind of protection. They will actually make you meditative and infuse your skin with the goodness as the effect of the treatments the material receives is very long lasting,” explained Hemant.
Though one might need ayurvedic clothes in ones’ house to relax what would make you secure in the almost cruel world of fashion are the prêt-a-porters and couture clothes from this designer duo. With their clean lines and decisive patters the clothes, like that backless jacket, are full of character but always seem to make room for that of the wearer.