Sanchita Ajjampur is a well-known designer trained in Paris and Milan. She began her career with Issey Miyake in Japan and moved on to work with several luxury houses in Europe. She also started her label, “Sanchita”, in 2007, inspired by the globetrotting lifestyle of the modern fashionista. Ajjampur was recently awarded with Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy for her outstanding work as a designer and businesswoman by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella. In the past, Sanchita has consulted at fashion houses such as Moschino, Gucci, Armani, Etro, McQueen and Louis Vuitton.
She speaks to Guardian 20 about her latest Indian designs and motifs to be found in them.
Q. In your recent collection at Amazon India Fashion Week 2016, you showcased your “athleisure” line. Do you think sports clothing is one of the emerging trends in fashion world?
A. Athleisure has been growing in popularity for a few seasons now, perhaps out of a need for versatility. Our lifestyles are changing with schedules getting busier. Our lives are becoming more transient where we need to constantly multitask. Athleisure serves most of our needs and it has now become more acceptable to dress casually to the work place. I don’t just see it as a trend but more of a ‘‘lifestyle’’ that is here to stay.
Q. Since you work internationally, would you like to incorporate Indian styles and motifs in your designs introduced in the West?
A. India is a quirky, challenging place with a cultural heritage, diversity and enormous potential that creates its own unique reference points. The challenge is to maintain the cultural richness and integrity of different parts of the world and weave Indian influences into my designs as much as European ones. I believe that fashion should transcend lifestyles around the globe and not get lost in translation. I have always wanted my fashion to represent the best of the two continents, and I do look forward to re-interpreting traditional Indian motifs in the future.
Q. Tell us about your love for traditional Indian crafts, which reflects throughout your collections. Do you think Indian weavers and their artisanal skills are not explored well-enough by fashion designers here?
A. We work with heritage craftsmanship and ancient skills such as hand-cut, teak wood discharge block printing, artisanal embroidery such as Aari and Zardozi and loom textiles. With less and less demand for hand work, younger generations not wanting to acquire the craft and consumers wanting affordable finished products, we are running the danger of losing some beautiful craft forms. Young designers should be encouraged to maintain cottage industries and indigenous arts and crafts, keeping alive our heritage.
‘India is a quirky, challenging place with a cultural heritage, diversity and enormous potential that creates its own unique reference points. I believe that fashion should transcend lifestyles.’
Q. Tell us about your collaborations with Swatch, Alessi, Cappellini and Swarovski.
A. For Swarovski, we created a limited edition run of bejewelled sandals and incorporated their crystals in footwear for our spring ’15 catwalk show. It was an honour working with Alessi, Swatch watches and other applied art projects with Arianna Caroli and the late John Drake Moore which were exhibited in Venice and Delhi.
Q. What’s unique about your label, Sanchita.
A. The label Sanchita is currently reinterpreting fashion codes to tell a more layered narrative and we are bringing in tradition, craftsmanship and longevity to the forefront of our work. Origins, methodology and execution are divergent in the process and modern luxury is really the ability to inhabit multiple worlds at once and being mobile inter-sectionally with ease.
Q. You were recently awarded with the Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy for your outstanding work as a designer and businesswoman. Any messages you’d like conveyed to young women designers looking for inspiration?
A. I would like to encourage young designers to stay true to their distinct fashion language and expression and not be swayed by what others expect of them. Be free, be unique, be bold.