Copenhagen-based and Arunachal Pradesh-born fashion designer, Nixon Bui showcased the Spring/Summer 2019 collection for his eponymous label, NIXONBUI, at the residence of the Ambassador of Denmark in New Delhi on 18 October.
Bui spoke to Guardian 20 about his latest collection and how, with his unique design sensibility, he intends to put India’s Northeast region on the global map of high fashion.
“The NIXONBUI S/S ’19 women’s collection is a celebration of the modern woman who is strong and chic, and effortless and refined,” he said. “A base of mutant tones and minimal shades inspired from the subtle street moods of Copenhagen, blends beautifully with traditional green and red that brings out the spirit of NIXONBUI.”
He further added, “I’ve played a lot with shades of grey, a colour very central in Scandinavian design, and then have built on it with accents of reds and greens that are more traditional to the Northeast.”
Bui feels that this collection includes some of his best works to date. He said, “I really loved working on this collection. And as the collection presented itself through my sketches, I realised it’s more of a mix of the modern and the classic. Part of the collection is sporty and fun while the other parts are more refined and charming.”
Talking about the idea behind his latest line, he said, “With this collection I’ve also been thinking a lot about the concept of modern femininity, how women are redefining what it means to be feminine, and how they present that in their fashion choices. As a human being I find it incredibly fascinating to witness this current growth of female empowerment. As society changes, fashion changes with it, and I wanted to contribute my part to this story. I believe there is great freedom in self-expression and living your truth.”
NIXONBUI is a Danish fashion brand headquartered in Copenhagen, and it was founded in 2014 by Bui. The design aesthetic of NIXONBUI is a fusion of minimalism and accents of tribal details that are inspired by the culture of Northeast India.
On shifting his base from Arunachal Pradesh to Denmark, the designer said, “I did my higher studies in Bangalore and by the end got a job in a Danish company. I moved to Sweden, worked a bit and eventually enrolled myself in the Copenhagen Business School. That’s how I landed in Denmark.”
One of the major challenges that he had to face while establishing himself in the fashion industry in Denmark was that of operating a business in a foreign land, where both the cultrual and business ethos were very different from what he was used to in India.
He said, “Firstly, there is the legal aspect of the business, which takes a lot of time and involves a huge deal of paperwork. But once, that’s done, things get a little smoother. However, the real challenge is in being creative both in terms of producing great designs and being able to sell them. In a startup, there are other practical issues, too, like finding the right suppliers, manufacturers, taking care of quality control, and of course, finding the right sales channel.”
We asked him about his view on how fashion in India has evolved, and the current rights and wrongs of the Indian market.
He answered, “Fashion is a social and cultural element. There is nothing as such ‘wrong or right’ if we are talking about aesthetics. It’s very subjective. What’s right here could be wrong somewhere else, and vice-versa. Indian fashion has its own path of development and evolution, like in any other part of the world. The interesting thing is to understand why the fashion scenes have shaped this way, what were the influences, where are they headed now. If you try to find all these answers, you will understand the country better.”
At age 30, he is already known for his innovative designs across Europe. Bui also told us about what inspired him to get into fashion.
He said, “I have always enjoyed creating stuff like handicraft, paintings or anything out of unconventional materials. I was very fascinated with patterns and colours. My mother has been a great influence when it comes to my inclination towards fashion. She used to be a crafts teacher and a lot of my basic knowledge of patterns and design came from watching her create things.”
Bui said that his basic inspiration behind designing clothes came from “feminine energy”. He added, “There is so much fun and laugh, care and thought, innocence and power in feminine energy. And I enjoy celebrating that through my clothes.”
According to Bui, India needs to match up to the business ethics of the international markets to make sure that its textiles and techniques are also being appreciated worldwide. The designer also informed us about the prominence of Indian textiles in the international market today. He says, “I have been to many fairs several times in Paris and I do see Indian textiles there. However, the scale could be better for sure. What I think foreign customers find hard when it comes to dealing with India is the business culture. If we align ourselves to a very solid international business culture, I think India would rule the world in the textile and techniques.”
Bui, a big supporter of eco fashion, believes that it’s time for big labels to come out and shoulder their responsibility towards the environment.
The designer also shared with us his experience of showcasing his first collection in India. “I’m beyond excited to have shown my designs to my own people, and to represent the Northeast in Delhi. I’ve been doing a lot of things in Copenhagen, but somehow it’s never the same. There is something special about having taking your project home, and having your friends and family in the audience, and see their reactions,” he said.