1. What is your brand’s heritage (USP) and how does it infuse with your individual personality? 

Shekhleela is passionately Indian in its DNA, it was conceptualized to treasure and celebrate the rich Indian traditions and techniques used by craftsmen to curate stunning masterpieces fit for Royalty and repurpose it with a modern twist to celebrate the undeterred spirit of women all around the world today. Our fashion collections are tastefully put together after thoughtful deliberation to give each piece of clothing its unique identity.

If you ever happen to peek through the lens of our periscope you would discover a new dimension to Luxury Fashion that is predominantly defined by comfort, elegance, tradition, and vibrancy. Our flawlessly constructed classic silhouettes showcase versatility and infuse our clients with confidence to carry out their look at any function, occasion, or even professional events. Having been successfully established in India for the past 5 years, we now aim to take our label to International markets. 

My passion for professionalism and a keen eye for detailing helps the brand maintain stringent quality standards and achieve higher benchmarks with every new collection. I maintain a personal rapport with my clients and love to go that extra mile to surprise them.

2. How did the name of your brand come about? 

Label Shekhleela came about from the names of my parents Shekhar and Leela. I am very grateful to my parents who always admired and appreciated my creative talents and my husband who gave me the confidence to introduce my own label amidst the dynamic competition of the Indian Fashion Industry. The deep-rooted values that my family have instilled in me are now reflected through the brand’s ideologies. 

3. Who is your ideal customer? (You could elaborate/share on your best customer story/experience)

Shekhleela is a people’s brand and our label identifies with all beautiful women. Our Indo Modernized fusion clothing has become a favourite obsession for anyone who aspires to feel chique, classy, and sassy all at once. Most of the television celebrities, socialites, and personalities from the glamour industry appreciate our work and are happy to have a Shekhleela label in their wardrobes. Our sheer dedication to uncompromised quality and excellent client servicing procedures have resulted in word of mouth communication, helping us build an empire of loyal customers over time. 

4. What is the vision, mission and purpose of your brand? 

Our Vision is to be a versatile one-stop lifestyle fashion house for all special occasions, events, and social commitments that our clients have to be a part of. It is the label’s continuous endeavour to create jobs, recognize talents, and provide an exposure to budding talents as well as local artisans. 

Our Mission is to be recognized as a globally renowned fashion label producing comfortable luxury wear with an unconventional appeal. We aim to keep evolving with time and create timeless fashion pieces without compromising on our ideals. 

The Purpose of our label is to unleash the inner beauty and confidence of every individual through our fashion solutions. We are content when we are able to purposefully satisfy the diva in every shopaholic fashionista. 

5. How are the current times affecting your sales and design process? 

Shekhleela’s sales have been impacted in a big way due to which we have had to bear the brunt of losses. However, despite the grim situation, Shekhleela has taken the onus to personally support its Karigars and held their hands firmly in these difficult times. We are going beyond the call of our duty to support them not only financially but also provide them with essentials to ensure their well-being. On the other hand, we are very grateful to our customers for their patience and belief in us. Our customer service team has been proactive in regularly updating them on the orders that were placed but couldn’t be delivered due to the sudden lockdown situation which brought our production to a standstill. We are looking forward to getting back in business with even greater resilience than before. 

6. What inspires you to give a spin to the regular pieces and make them unconventional? 

As a designer, somehow I feel the need to offer my clients something that is truly unique and creatively different that evokes individuality of the garment and the person wearing it. The best part about my work is that I have the liberty to experiment with fabrics, play with colours, and use alternate textures to convert regular fabrics into sophisticated pieces. Shekhleela quintessentially repurposes traditional bl.designs to form unconventional and classy couture’s. 

7. Your collections are the perfect outline for the strong women of today, how do your customers perceive this thought? 

Being a mother and a designer at the same time, I try to devote equal time and attention to both commitments. My clients are appreciative of my preference for androgynous style that has blended well with our label. Most of our clients resonate with my belief of not centring the business around ME or YOU, but growing together by climbing the ladder of success as WE and US. They look at me as a female designer striving to create a beautiful marriage of sensitivity, emotions, culture with strength, and reliability. 

8. You effortlessly blend soft fabrics and prints with structured silhouettes and create versatile pieces, how difficult is that? (You could share your design process) 

When I sit at my drawing board the one thing that I think about is how the label’s next collection should depict Luxe Fashion and yet be comfortable to wear & move around to go about celebrating work and life with enthusiastic optimism each day. I believe and emphasise in creating wearable silhouettes, wherein comfort comes first which naturally boost confidence in oneself. 

9. How do you customise your own prints and fabrics? 

I have always been in awe with the stunning intricate handcrafted stitching, weaving, printing, and dyeing techniques used by age-old artisans and try to replicate the same in my collections. Along with this, I am also a keen nature lover and observe all the wondrous elements present around us. Hence most of our designs depict floral patterns, feathers, earthy tones, and warm shades that please the eyes. We also make sure that all the materials that we use are organic and sourced from the right place. We take pride in endorsing our chemical-free production and Azo Free dyeing & printing process.     

10. If your brand could be endorsed by a celebrity or public figure, who would you want it to be and why?

Our brand celebrates people and each one of us are heroes in our own world playing a special character in our off reel lives. For us every customer is a brand ambassador and rightfully deserves to be appreciated and recognized for who they are. We take inspiration from every individual that walks through the doors of our store and make sure they leave our premise with happy smiles until they gladly return and meet us again. 

Handlooms Of India : Textiles That Weave Our Identity

BY BHARGAVI MISHRA AND SHIVAANI SENTHIL 

The handloom industry is the second-largest in India after agriculture, with nearly 4 million people working in this field. There are serval ways to uplift the industry but it needs government support and especially the will power of the weavers to step out of their comfort zone and change for the better. 
The pandemic has had an extremely negative impact on the handloom sector, affecting the livelihood of weavers everywhere. Fashion designers from across the country have been making attempts to revive Indian fabrics like chanderi, kalamkari, and banarasi. A Bangalore based organization (TRS) has started a campaign for the same. We can all do our part by promoting local products and local brands. The #Vocalforlocal moment is all about promoting local products and boycotting those that are not made in India. The world is moving towards a recession and now is the time to take action. 
INDIAN HANDLOOM FABRICS
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF TAMIL NADU: KANCHIVARAM SILK

Kanchivaram is traditionally woven silk from a village called Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. The origin of the Kanchipuram saree dates back to centuries ago when these sarees used to be woven in temples. Kanchipuram sarees are made from pure mulberry silk with borders and pallu in contrast colors and lined with heavy gold weaving. The inspiration behind these designs is South Indian temples and natural elements like birds, leaves, and flowers.
HANDLOOM TEXTILES OF KERALA: KASAVU

Kerala is known for its Mundus and the Kerala saree, which are typically undyed cotton fabrics with color or kasavu borders and a kasavu stripe on the pallu. The term Kasavu actually refers to the zari used in the border of the Kerala saree. In Kerala, traditional attire like saris, mundus, and settu mundus is generally called kaithari, meaning handloom. Kerala has three clusters that have been given a Geographical Indication tag by the Indian government.
Balaramapuram textiles (Thiruvananthapuram district)
Chendamangalam textiles (Ernakulam district)
Kuthampully textiles (Thrissur district)
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF TELANGANA: POCHAMPALLY
Telangana is renowned for its world-famous Ikat designs. It is considered as one of the ancient Ikat weaving centers of India. The fabric used is cotton, silk, and sico, which is actually a mix of silk and cotton. Ikat represents a weaving form where the warp and weft are both tie-dyed before they are weaved to create any designs on the finished fabric.
Pochampally Ikat is well-known for its traditional geometric patterns with the Ikat style of dyeing. The intricate geometric designs are mastered by the hands of skilled weavers.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF MADHYA PRADESH: CHANDERI
Chanderi is a traditional ethnic fabric characterized by its lightweight, sheer texture and fine luxurious feel. Chanderi fabric is produced by weaving silk and golden zari in a traditional cotton yarn. This fabric can be classified into three types – Chanderi silk cotton, pure silk, and Chanderi cotton.  Motifs created using Chanderi weaving are inspired by nature and include Swans, gold coins, fruits, and heavenly bodies. The color palette of Chanderi sarees is predominately ruled by soft pastel hues.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF UTTAR PRADESH: BANARASI SILK
Banarasi Silk is a fine variant of Silk originating from the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Mughals brought this fine craftsmanship in India and tried to glorify the art of weaving and designing with Persian motifs. It has actually been well known for the use of gold and silver brocade or the ‘Zari‘. The unique aspect of these sarees is the Mughal inspired designs which have been decorated with intricate floral as well as foliate designs.
HANDLOOM OF MAHARASTRA: PAITHINI
The Paithani sari originates from the royal dynasties of the medieval town of Paithan near Aurangabad. It is believed to be made from the finest silk yarns of China and locally spun zari. Every piece is characterized by the luxurious use of gold as well as floral and bird-inspired motifs. The traditional motifs include parrots, peacocks, and lotuses.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF WEST BENGAL: JAMDANI

Jamdani is a handloom woven fabric made of cotton, traditionally originated from Bengal, and historically referred to as muslin. The words ‘Jam’ and ‘Dani’ mean flower and vase. This weave done by loom on brocade is a time-consuming process and is a blend of figures and floral motifs. In Jamdani, motifs are inlaid into the fabric by adding a denser thread to fine warp by hand. It is considered as one of the finest varieties of muslin and the most artistic textile. 
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF ANDRA PRADESH: UPPADA
Uppada, a small town located in Andhra Pradesh, is well known for its traditional Uppada Handlooms and its unique designs. They are handwoven using cotton or silk warp and weft. The count used in weaving results in the softness and hardness of the fabric. Uppada uses the technique of the traditional Jamdani weaving to create rich patterns using gold and silver zari.
HANDLOOM TEXTILE OF GUJARAT: PATOLA

Patolas are manufactured by the resist-dyeing process using the warp and weft technique on handwoven silk and take about 4- 7 months to weave. Patolas generally have abstract and geometric patterns of elephants, human figures, kalash, flowers, and parrots as well as designs inspired by the architecture of Gujarat. Natural dyes like indigo, turmeric, madder roots, manjistha, pomegranate skin, henna, and marigold are used in the making process.
PROBLEMS FACED BY HANDLOOM WEAVERS IN INDIA
Even though the handloom textile industry in India is glorified in today’s world, there are some major problems faced by the weavers in India. Starting from the increase in the price of the raw materials to the lack of modernization and to financial exploitation, they have faced it all. 
Multiplying prices of the raw materials like yarns and dyes have made it a nightmare for the weavers to procure them at affordable prices. This affects their work and product outcomes. The infrastructure of the workplace and the looms have affected the quality of work and have also had it time-consuming, making the product more expensive. Due to the vulnerable financial condition of the weavers and frequent exploitation, they are unable to invest in research and development, a serious impediment to tune in new designs.
EDITED BY: PRERNA LALCHANDANI 

Handloom : The Threads of Hope

BY DIYA GHAG AND SHIVAANI SENTHIL

Handloom, the most eco-friendly way of fabricating clothes, was formulated by Edmund Cartwright and patented in 1785. In India, it dates back to the Indus valley civilization, where farmers were the prime people to spin and weave cotton. The fabric utilizes the mechanical energy of the weaver rather than electrical energy. 

Opting for Handloom over other fabrics would benefit the industry in myriad ways since it is handwoven and has rare odds of being defective. Skilled weavers and artisans provide the utmost care to ensure good quality products. The handlooms sector is considered the second largest income-generating activity after agriculture. Therefore, encouraging the sector would indirectly mean providing employment to millions of artisans, especially from the rural area, and would boost women empowerment.

The time has come for people to understand the challenges of global warming and make the shift from power loom to handloom. This majorly contributes to a sustainable and eco-friendly environment which is much needed in the world today.  

SOME DESIGNERS THAT HAVE WORKED WITH HANDLOOM

The handloom textiles of India showcase the rich heritage of the country. Many fashion designers in India have worked with various craft and weaving clusters to revive traditional handloom Indian textiles. Lately, designers in India have explicitly portrayed their love towards Indian textiles and have incorporated them in the most distinctive way for the ready to wear markets across the country.

GAURANG SHAH

      

Known as the master of weaves, Gaurang Shah has crafted saris using various Indian handloom textiles like kanjivaram, Khadi, Uppada, Paithani, Patan Patola, Benarasi, Kota and Bengal weaves. His latest collection GHARAM MASALA in 2020 adds a fresh twist, using colors inspired by our spices. The monochromatic theme of the collection did not fail to amaze its audience.

ABU JANI and SANDEEP KHOSLA

   

The duo is a pioneer in resurrecting the best of the past and fashioning it for the future. Being pioneers in bridal lehengas, they have launched a sustainable brand called GULABO, focusing more on hand-spun Kora cotton embellished in linear Gota work and breezy silhouettes giving it an ‘oomph’ factor. 

SABYASACHI MUKHERJEE

       

Be it a collection with minimal prints and embroidery or a heavy dream bridal lehenga, Sabyasachi has never failed to amaze us with the amalgamation of different fabrics that lead to his whimsical collections. Sabyasachi uses Cotton, Khadi, Banarasi weaves and Kalamkari in a luxe bohemian way for pret and bridal wear. This creation of infusing various techniques together has given his designs a strong sense of organic and power dressing. 

ANJU MODI

       

In her recent collections EHSAAS, ANTHEEN and MASAKALI, we can implicitly see Anju Modi’s love for Khadi, Handspun Cotton, Banaras and Chanderi. Anju Modi’s Khadi collection at ‘Khadi, transcending boundaries’ featured various silhouettes ranging from Peplum to Dhoti pants, showing us how humbling Khadi can be.

ANITA DONGRE

      

Anita Dongre is well known for her explicit love for crafts and handloom across the country. She uses handwoven Malkha fabric, Maheshwari silk, handwoven Jamdani, and Ikkats in her exclusive collection, designed into saris, kurtas and dresses, providing the wearer with unparalleled comfort and style. The vibrancy and texture of these handwoven fabrics give the designs a unique look.

RAHUL MISHRA

       

Rahul Mishra’s journey in the fashion industry has been full of exciting innovations. He has worked with various handloom fabrics like Maheswari silk, Chanderi, Banarasi silk, Bhalgapur silk, and Kerala’s handwoven cotton called Mundu. In order to celebrate the heritage of handlooms in India, Rahul Mishra showcased a collection at the Paris Fashion Week entirely made of Maheswari and Chanderi fabrics produced in rural India.

Rahul Mishra X Project Eve collections portray his long association with traditional Indian handloom textiles. A fine amalgamation of Indian textiles is made accessible in the ready to wear market in India.

Today, in the world of fashion, Indian designers have truly played a major role in reviving, uplifting and sustaining the techniques and skills of working with traditional handwoven textiles in our country and also making it viable for ready to wear.

EDITED BY: PRERNA LALCHANDANI

Mother To Daughter : Fashion For Generations

BY PRERNA LALCHANDANI

 Aakansha Sharma, owner of House of Dorii 

is someone who makes custom clothes from scratch and styling videos for fun. Her fondness for fashion comes from her mother. In this conversation, we learn about how Aakansha continued her mother’s legacy. She also talks about her brand and sheds light on some supremely helpful tips and tricks on how to start and sustain your business. In the wake of Covid, Aakansha took it upon herself to give back to society with her campaign #kareforkarigar. Want to find out what it was about? Read along!

Tell us about your brand House of Dorii. 
My love for fashion and wearing new clothes made me start my brand in September of 2018. The initial idea behind the store was to ignite that same passion that I have for clothes in other people. We focus on customized clothing where the client brings us a design, and we create a piece using that design, the client’s sense of style and elements of House of Dorii to create something new. This concept works well since our clients have different styles and appreciate a different type of clothing. The average age of our clientele shifted from 30s-70s and now includes even the younger generation (20s) who have taken an interest in custom clothing since they feel the need to stand out and custom pieces add that uniqueness to their outfit.
What influenced you to get into the fashion industry? Was this something you always wanted to do?
My mom has been my inspiration throughout my journey. She would also design clothes and has a background in the textile industry. She always made her clothes from scratch, giving them a new dimension. At the time that my mother was a part of this industry, people’s mindsets were quite different and unfortunately, my mother decided against starting her own business. That always upset me as a child, and I knew, since then, that I want to be contributing to this industry as well, to carry forward her dreams and legacy. Fashion is a part of my life and my identity, it is not work. 
What is the inspiration behind all your collections? We have noticed how all your clothing includes a lot of print design. What makes you love print so much? 
I draw my inspiration from mundane things in my environment. If I had to pick a few, one would definitely be nature. I have a deep routed connection with planting and the calm look and feel of plants inspires a lot of my collection. I also love the vibrant colors of different fruits and vegetables. It is all a matter of perspective. The simplest of things can inspire a person, if the person seeks it. For me, I feel like prints add a definite edge to your personality. They attract a lot more attention and make the outfit bold without trying too much. Prints also evoke happiness in people and sell more than solid color pieces. 
What colors would you say works best for our Indian skin tone? 
Usually undertones like our browns and dull reds, mustard, and some shades of orange work best with our skin tone and highlight our look. 
What are your future plans for the company? 
At this point in time, my workshop is my house. So the immediate goal is to open a store in Delhi. The long term goal is definitely opening my brand in different cities around India. I wish to inspire people with my designs and get their creative juices flowing. I want to make them love fashion as much as I do, which is also why my concept works since the clients are involved in the process. 

You have started an amazing initiate, KareforKarigar. Would you like to tell us about it? 

Owing to the pandemic and our current situation, we received calls from karigars on a daily, asking us to hire them. Feeling extremely blessed to have a family where I get food every single day, my team and I decided to start this initiative. The basic idea is for customers to purchase a mask for Rs.50, 30 of which would go to the karigar making the mask and the rest would go to people in need, like our house-helps and street vendors. It was quite a success. 
What key points should one keep in mind when starting their own brand?
 
Passion. This industry is tough and having an interest in fashion and designing is very important to sustain the brand. A key determining factor is also capital. It takes quite a lot of money to start something on this scale. You need to have a good workforce, that will make or break your brand’s success. Finding a location for your workshop is also important, and understanding whether or not you can afford to rent a space. And if not, then figuring out cheaper alternatives. 
What are some tips and tricks to ensure a successful business? 
Prioritizing the customer is paramount in this journey. Maintaining a real relationship with them and ensuring all their needs are met is extremely important. Many times, the client will not be completely satisfied with their piece and may want to make changes. It is important to always be patient and kind. Another way to ensure a successful business is by planning for unfortunate outcomes. During this pandemic, I realized how crucial it is to save up. Had I not saved up, my business may have shut down. We need to work on changing our buying habits, ensuring we only buy necessities and not think of items we may need 6 months from now. Lastly, it is important to enjoy your work, celebrate your successes, and never give up.
Instagram : @aakanshasharmaofficial @houseofdorii

             

Make up and Glam By Ummehani Petiwala

BY PRERNA LALCHANDANI

 Ummehaani Petiwala 

is a skincare enthusiast, makeup and hair professional, an educator and an aspiring fashion stylist. Read along to find out how she came about this industry, her year and a half journey and some exciting tips and tricks. 
Looking at your work, I am in awe of the perfection it shows at such a young age. How did you get to that level of professionalism so early?  
For me, this industry was definitely not something I had planned on getting into, its something that just happened. After college, I stumbled upon a makeup course, which I feel was the best decision I ever made. Back then, I had absolutely no knowledge about the makeup industry. I would put on a bright cherry red lipstick and call it blush! It took me almost a year and a half to get projects. I think it is all about practice. My course, unlike other 2-3 month courses, went on for about 8 months because I was one of the very few who wasn’t well versed with absolutely anything! . 
I’d say my efforts, a great educator and continual practice led me to where I am now.
What drew you to this stream? What advice would you like to give advice to people who want to work in this industry? 
Well, going into college, I had planned to get my major in psychology, but life has a funny way of playing out. Even though I still love the subject, I decided to switch to Mass Media, and get into the field of Public Relations or Advertising. Throughout college, I grabbed every internship opportunity I could, and soon got placed with a job at one of the biggest media companies when college ended. However, by the end of it, I did not find enough meaning at any of my internships. 
I wasn’t sure what to do because I spent 3 years learning in this field, but I decided to leave my job. Being at home for about  month, I struggled, and one day after a brief conversation with my mother I decided to take a makeup course from an academy. There were times when I felt defeated and it was not only a very difficult but also a time consuming course where I would usually start from morning till night each day because of how new this field was to me. But a year down the line, the same academy hired me! 

Doing this course completely opened up my mind to so many new possibilities. I’ve always been drawn to anything and everything creative! This industry is huge, and I feel like India has not even tapped into the M of makeup. It goes so much beyond just applying a little foundation. I love doing special effects also called SFX. Making it look realistic is very challenging and requires a lot of patience and hard-work, shoots at times go on from an early start of 4 am right until 1 am, and you’re on your feet till the very last scene, and until you hear the words ‘pack up’ ! But what a great feeling that is!
So to everyone out there, experiment new things, you never know what life has planned for you. The future will always be uncertain. Plans will change, but you need to believe that you will find a way. Never give up. I’d like to say, just do what works for you, at the end of the day, you are the creator of your own destiny. 
Tell us about your business. Do you work with a company or are you a freelance artist? 
To elaborate on what I do, Monday – Friday I work at an academy called Makeup Vanguard, which is relatively new and open to different adventures each day! I am an assistant to the head trainer and I conduct classes with new batches every few months as an assistant teacher. I am also a coordinator, a link between the students and the trainers. I truly enjoy my work, and even though its a tough job at times, with a number of shoots, it also has a calm side to it. We engage in fun conversations, where we exchange in ideas each day! When it comes to shoots, the entire conceptualization right from the pre-production to the actual concept to post production has to be planned beforehand. 
The academy understands the need for us to further build contacts, create a clientele base and grow individually, and allows us to take up freelance projects. I have worked on multiple shoots, editorials and for even bridesmaids! 
Makeup helps people feel good about themselves and adds a touch of glamour in their lives. How do you think one should go about applying makeup while they are stuck at home? 
As much as I enjoy working with makeup, I have always loved and believed in skin care. Makeup definitely helps boost ones confidence, however it is not necessary to glam up at home and that’s where skin care comes into play. I think this is the best time to just let your skin breathe and apply masks and experiment with different skin packs. Feeling fresh is the best glow you can have. However, if one wants to dress up for a zoom meeting, instead of applying layers of foundation, I would suggest simply putting concealer, powdering your face and applying blush for a nice, fresh look. 
Would you like to share some tips and tricks for a quick makeup look? What do you do? 
Something I do all the time is put a lot of concealer, instead of foundation. Personally I love applying blush, it makes me feel very pretty and put together so I focus on that instead of a mascara and a liner.
How do you make your skin glow? 
I am a skin care enthusiast and I love DIY face masks. One of my favorites is applying a mixture of oats, honey and a little milk. However, every skin type requires different nutrition, and it varies from person to person. Apart from this, taking care of your body is also extremely important. I begin my mornings with drinking a mixture of cinnamon, turmeric powder, honey, lime and hot water along with my multivitamin tablets. It is also extremely important to follow a night routine. An abbreviation I live by is CTM; cleaning, toning and moisturizing the face. I would suggest using brands like clinique or kiehls that suit most skin types however, it can also vary from person to person. A very crucial skin care application is an SPF sunscreen, that should be applied every single day, even at home. 
When it comes to makeup, for a glowy look, applying liquid highlighter, before you start your makeup routine, on the T zone really helps and gives you a dewy skin look. Putting on setting spray, after completing your look, adds to that glow. 
What is the one project you are extremely proud of? 
It is very tough for me to decide on just one project since I have worked with so many wonderful people and have had great memories. However, I recently did a project with TATA and I am super proud of that. It is an extraordinary feeling to work with one of the biggest brands out there. I have also worked with LOTTIE London, HAIER electronics and World of Born to name a few. These projects were great experiences. I also got the opportunity to work with an Italian artist, G. Luca. I am extremely grateful to have received such wonderful projects and I am very excited to see what the future holds. 
What are your future plans and what do you aspire to do? 
I truly believe in living in the present and taking each day as it comes. While I love the beauty industry, I am very passionate about exploring new things and I am very drawn towards new experiences. However, when it comes to furthering my career, I definitely want to start teaching more and in fact, I have been teaching students even outside of the academy. It is one of the most fulfilling jobs ever, to be able to help someone achieve their dreams. For me, teaching is like a two way conversation where both, the teacher and the student, get to learn new things and there is an exchange of ideas. 
Before I end this talk with you, I’d like to mention two people I’ll always be thankful to, not only are they the best educators but I’ve also found a lifelong friend in them.
Here’s to you, Farah and Snehal, one of the few biggest influences in my life. 
Thank you for being there for me at each step and treating me like your own.
I’m forever grateful and thankful. 
Ummehani has been kind enough to open up her email and direct messages to anyone who has a curiosity and is keen on entering this industry. 
Instagram : @makeupbyummehani
Email ID : ummehani66@gmail.com

THE MOVEMENT OF THE ADVANCE GUARDS

What is an art movement? A way of art that is followed which is based on some ideals and is followed by several artists in a period is called an art movement. One of the most famous art movements of the 20th century is the avant-garde. Many artists and designers still link themselves to this art movement.
Artists, designers, communities, and people who have a different and innovative viewpoint that is contradictory to the mainstream orthodox ideas are alluded to as avant-garde or advanced guards. This art movement became popular during the time of modernism and postmodernism and one of the most famous or say controversial artists of this movement was Walter Sickert who made a very contended yet a masterpiece which is known as “Jack the rippers’ bedroom”. It is a beautiful piece of art that is made from the perspective of an open doorway where the furniture and details are made with the help of light and shadow. It is decorated on the wall of the “Manchester art gallery”.  
Sickert was reckoned as one of the most important influencers during the avant-garde movement. Born in Germany,1960 he was one of the establishers of the Camden Town group which is a set of post-impressionism art workers.
Jack the ripper was a serial killer who was known for the killing of 5 prostitutes during 1888 in east London. He made his painting “Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom” when he moved to Camden Town. Emily Dimmocks’ body was found on her bed in September 1907. It was badly mutilated with her organs distorted and heart was taken out. Her murder was known as the infamous Camden Town Murder and Sickert created several paintings and drawings depicting the murders. His work caused controversy in the media, several publishers and authors accused Sickert to be “Jack the Ripper”. Sickert was considered as one of the suspects of the murders but there were some details in the painting that only the murderer would know.  There are two books: Jack the Ripper: Case Closed and Ripper the secret life of Walter Sickert by writer Patricia Cornwell. Despite these controversies, this was the painting that established Sickert as one of the most influencing artists of the avant-garde movement.
There were not just artists who were inspired by the unorthodox ideas of the avant-garde movement but there were designers as well who made collections inspired by such ideas and artworks as one of the designers who is also known as the “enfant terrible “of the fashion industry, Alexander Mcqueen.
Undeniably one of the most enchanting fashion designers not only of England but all around the world is Alexander McQueen. His father was a taxi driver. He left his schooling at the age of sixteen. In London’s Savile Row he worked as a trainee where he learned his irreproachable pattern making and sewing skills that defined his career as a fashion designer. He worked for Koji Tatsuno and Romeo Gigli for a short period, after his stint on Savile Row. Then he moved back to London, the place his heart was. He applied for the job of pattern making tutor in Central St Martins. A teacher in the MA course, Louise Wilson noticed him there and that’s when Mcqueen became a student at the school instead.
In 1992 Alexander Mcqueen graduated from St. Martin’s. He was an avant-garde designer in all sense “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims”, this was the name of his collection that he showcased on his graduation runway show, it was inspired by Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel victims of 1888. McQueen’s collections were always highly personalized. One of Jack the ripper’s victim lived in one of his relative’s inn. To make his collection more appealing he had sewn locks of hair.  Pink thorn patterned jacket had hair cocooned in white silk which gave a very real touch to his collection. These are some of the ways Mcqueen used to astonish the viewers. His ways of presenting and his inspirations were so unique that it always left people flabbergasted.   
He was highly inspired by the Victorian era and had his own innovative way to showcase it. For his early collections, Mcqueen used to cut his own hair and attach it to items of clothing to give it a personal touch. He got the inspiration to do so from the Victorian era where the prostitutes used to sell their hair.
The graduation collection of Alexander Mcqueen was hit. Everyone in the audience just loved it. There was another lady in the audience who was present there that day. She was the fashion assistant of Michael Roberts, she was Isabella Blow. Mesmerized by the appeal and the impeccable craftsmanship of the clothing in the collection, she couldn’t resist herself from buying it, and she bought the entire collection for 5,000 pounds. This was the beginning of an extraordinary partnership. Isabella gave Alexander Mcqueen the platform to make his name in a very short period. His designs were outrageous in a literal sense. His ideas and imaginations were not at all something from the mainstream but yet he managed to build a small but loyal clientele. Blow used to help him get the media attention and publicity, his stunning designs made him establish his name as ‘The hooligan of English fashion”. He did live up to this title and as a brand, Alexander Mcqueen still manages to surprise the audience with its designs and always lives up to the expectation of the masses. People like him are the inspiration for others who have their own ideas and beliefs about the surroundings and one should never feel low for being different in terms of their creations. A true artist is the one who can deliver his message through his creations without being afraid of the norms. Avant-garde art movement has definitely gifted the world with such unique gems that have made an unforgettable mark in the history of fashion.

How to own your distinct beauty and style

Learn to embrace your look
It’s a cruel twist of fate that the very same feature that makes us uniquely beautiful can also be our biggest source of frustration. Others might admire your dead-straight hair, but you bemoan the fact that it feels limp by 2pm.

Or perhaps your head of curls is the envy of many, but it can be so difficult to control that you quite literally want to pull your hair out.

Here’s the answer: the secret to celebrating your unique style every day is to completely own it. And that includes finding ways to navigate those moments of frustration.

Influencer and model Shreyja Shraa discovered this for herself around three years ago. Although her gorgeous, wild hair has helped put her in demand globally, Shreyja didn’t always celebrate it.

“I remember constantly straightening my hair when I was younger because I was embarrassed of [my curls],” she says. “As I got older, I became more confident, especially in the modelling industry. Constantly being surrounded by beautiful, unique women, I guess it made me feel like I should show off my individuality.”

The right cut
The turning point for Shreyja came when she decided to truly embrace her look by getting a haircut that actually worked with her hair’s texture and shape.

“I definitely prefer my look today as I feel it suits my tomboy, carefree style a lot more. My haircut has also helped me greatly within the industry as it’s not a common style among the other models. I remember my first fashion week with the curls, in 2019; none of the designers I walked for changed my hair from its natural state, which definitely helped me stand out. Uniqueness is such a powerful tool in the modelling industry and I think we should all embrace it.”

Instead of trying to coax your hair into something that it isn’t, switch to a cut that truly enhances its natural texture, including all its beautiful quirks. You’ll be amazed at how much better it looks, and how much faster and easier it is to style.

Tools of the trade
Speaking of styling, finding the right products can take some trial and error but they are truly worth the effort. Shreyja has zeroed in on a trio of products that she knows will help her to manage her unruly locks. It starts with the Schwarzkopf Extra Care Rose Hip Oil Elixir, which she loves for its rose scent and ability to keep her hair in great condition.

“I enjoy using this product after my hair has been washed and is still damp,” Roberta explains. “So many products, curling irons and straighteners are constantly being used on my hair at work, so I find this repair oil helps my hair remain healthy.”

Designed specifically for normal to damaged hair, the Schwarzkopf Extra Care Rose Hip Oil Elixir leaves locks feeling soft and silky, without weighing them down. A small amount goes a long way – apply it to the ends only, staying away from the roots.

Once her hair is dry, Shreyja finishes with a little Schwarzkopf Extra Care Grape Seed Oil Elixir on the ends to reduce frizziness and flyaways, without flattening her signature style. In between washes, she also relies on sea salt spray to restore definition and bounce to her style.

“I don’t have thick hair, so my curls usually flatten or straighten out after I’ve slept on them,” she notes. “I find sea salt spray useful as it helps define them again.”

Thrift Shopping : Opportunity To Beat Fast Fashion

With more than 70 million trees logged each year to deliver textures like rayon and thick, environmental change is hot closely following quick style. Expendable pieces of clothing (quick style) contribute more to environmental change than air and ocean travel (Imagine that). Design squander contributes essentially to the business’ exhibition on maintainability lists.

Perceiving this reality, numerous names have found a way to limit the waste emerging from their activities. Spanish brand, Ecoalf, for example, produces dress made altogether of waste material – fishnets, plastic containers, and disposed of tires, to give some examples.

India also has a lot of brands who are currently dedicated to diminishing the measure of waste texture produced each year – around 30,000 tons ( as indicated by the Institute of Manufacturing, University of Cambridge). With piece of clothing fabricating being probably the greatest business – representing practically 50% of our GDP – it’s not hard to envision why quick style might be an issue tormenting our island country. Be that as it may, we are making little walks.

MAS has promised that by 2025, all their waste will either be upgraded in esteem or up-cycled as crude material or as a totally new asset.

Prepared to-wear brands, similar to House of Lonali, make assortments made with up-cycled texture.

Bathing suit brands like Pigeon Island feature moral style by reusing plastic jugs to make their items.

What would you be able to do to help?

Presently with progressively normal cataclysmic events occurring because of our carelessness and a rush of increasingly cognizant and dependable design houses coming into the scene, us shoppers have the chance to step in and have any kind of effect. Right off the bat, by being purchasers to such mindful brands and also, moving beyond the underlying reservation to frugality shopping and being kinder to your wallet by finding your next closet in the intriguing racks of second hand store.

Individuals who love second hand shops truly love second hand shops. Also, they were picking up in ubiquity a long time before Macklemore’s “Second hand store” made its best endeavor to destroy that pattern. Clearly the general thought of a used store is eco-accommodating. Second hand shops resemble mankind’s used articles. That 7-Up logo tee can hypothetically be worn everlastingly, or possibly until the strings are truly worn through.

Recycled shops are only sometimes around Colombo and just a couple of remarkable ones have reliably pushed during that time to give the India open practical second hand store choices. The edges have a superior activity at having a network driven second hand store that they use and you should hit up the couple of we have seen down south in Hikkaduwa and Weligama.

By and by I hopped into the frugality shopping cart when I understood how much cash I spent on garments that don’t make due in my closet longer than a year or two. I unearthed this jewel called ‘The Store’ and I discovered Zara and Chanel tops for LKR 200 and I was sold (these Colombo 7 aunts working superbly in loading all these second hand store with some ageless costly pieces) . After a decent washing, I was prepared to stroll around acting like I was bougie enough to manage the cost of Chanel.

This particular store is situated on Thimbirigasyaya Road and is going by CHA (Center for Humanitarians Affairs) and all returns go to the Special Needs program led in-house. So notwithstanding being kinder on your wallet, it gives our worthless presence a break. The costs are as low as LKR 100 and would max go to a 1000 to this date. In Rathmalana, strategically located on Galle street lies a little second hand store called Rith Ru Bale House and in the event that you adventure further into Dehiwela you will locate a couple of shops to a great extent that can take into account your requirements.

One man’s garbage is another man’s fortune. Uncommonly when a few people’s refuse is mint condition supper coats and vintage dresses.

Upbeat capable shopping people!

Sustainable Fashion In The Aftermath Of Covid-19

Covid-19 has dealt a massive blow to most industries — fashion and textile being no exception. As countries continue to experiment with lockdowns and the demand for apparel and textiles shrinks, several major international retailers such as Primark and Forever 21 have taken the decision to postpone or cancel orders. In some cases, they have even refused to pay for clothing which had already been manufactured. For a countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh which relies on a large chunk of its exports being from the apparel and textile sector, the effects of cancelled and delayed payments can be and have been devastating. Thousands of garment factory workers will be laid off, with most having to return to their hometowns empty-handed and without hope of immediate employment.

This is a grim reality, but in some ways one could see this coming. The fashion industry has been on a trajectory of human rights violations and environmental degradation for quite some time now; the Covid-19 crisis has only made it more obvious, and brought the gross inequalities that persist in the labour market to the forefront.

The global fashion industry is the second highest user of water worldwide, generating 20 per cent of global water waste and is responsible for 8.1 per cent of greenhouse gases produced annually. That’s a lot of damage, especially at a time when scientists and activists world over are doing their best to avert the impending climate crisis.

So now that we can no longer feign ignorance, what’s the best way forward?

The answer may lie in sustainability.

According to Kate Heiny, Director for Sustainability at Zalando SE, nine out of 10 Generation Z consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues.

“We see a clear link between sustainability and continued commercial success. Our sustainability ambitions will help us stay ahead of customer demand after this crisis caused by the coronavirus. Both our current and future customer base are calling for more sustainable choices in fashion.”

What is sustainable fashion?

While there is no exact definition for the term ‘sustainable fashion’, it is widely believed to be an amalgamation of environmental, social and financial integrity.

Most businesses put profits at the forefront of their strategy at the cost of human and environmental rights, but sustainable business models consider the profits, people, and planet to be equally important. Special attention is paid towards the quality and longevity of the garments produced, as well as towards the people who are a part of producing it. In addition, a thorough check and balance is placed throughout all stages of the supply chain, including outsourced vendors.

Local perspective

“We work as a community, so I don’t quote or dictate the prices,” says Waqar J. Khan of Nasheman — a local sustainable fashion brand.

“We explain the kind of work we require, and the artisans then quote us a timeline and a price. We plan the rest accordingly.”

Before deciding to work with the artisans, Waqar spent a whole week in their village talking to them about how they work as well as their way of life. And as he was speaking to me, Waqar expressed the importance of identifying and understanding not only the strengths of a particular community of artisans, but also its limitations.

“We need to understand that artisans often reside in places with a lack of modern facilities, and have developed their own systems for working efficiently. Our job is to build a partnership based on trust and respect, which ends up being mutually beneficial.”

Amneh Shaikh of Polly and Other Stories shares a touching anecdote to emphasise the importance of treating employees as the unique individuals that they are, rather than a means to an end.

“I met Seher* around seven years ago, while working for a project where she used to do handicraft work for her neighbours and occasionally for a factory near her home. When she joined our project, the elders in her community branded her as a ‘bad’ woman for working outside the house. She persisted nevertheless. Fast forward to now, her daughter is a teacher, she herself runs a business and brings work for 25 other women in her community. It is a transformative story.

Now that I meet her, she says my name is Seher and I am a leader. It makes me want to cry because I remember seven years ago when I met her she used to say ‘baaji, I can’t do this, and this, and not even that’. Now she doesn’t only believe that she can do all the things she was once afraid she couldn’t, she believes she can lead others to do them too. That’s how far long-term commitment takes you.”

A change of pace

Pakistan is home to centuries old craft techniques and a rich cultural heritage; this combined with its significant artisan base can make it a hub for slow and sustainable fashion. However, we still see our local high-street brands failing to support or respect our craftsmen.

The success of international fast fashion brands such as Zara and H&M has turned the local fashion industry on its head in the past decade. Instead of cultivating our strengths, we have joined the race of over-consumption and disposability. Consequently, our artisans end up as collateral damage in the war between craftsmanship and consumerism.

The irony is that while we chase the success of international fast fashion brands, these same brands are now adopting a more sustainable direction.

H&M plans to transition to 100% sustainable cotton by 2020, according to its 2018 annual report. Similarly, Zara has pledged to create collections out of 100% sustainable cottons and linens and 100% recycled polyester, with zero landfill waste from its facilities.

Even luxury brands are becoming more conscious, with Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele taking to his instagram to announce that they will be doing two shows per year rather than five. And Michele is not the only one.

In his open letter to fashion-industry trade journal WWD, Giorgio Armani urges us to “slow everything down, to realign everything, to draw a more authentic and true horizon. No more spectacularisation, no more waste.”

He further says that, “The moment we are going through is turbulent, but it offers us the unique opportunity to fix what is wrong, to remove the superfluous, to find a more human dimension…”

The ground reality

Only time will tell if changes in the international fashion fraternity are motivated by authenticity and the greater good or if it’s just prudent decision-making based on consumer trends and the predicted recession.

But something needs to change.

Ideally, every fashion brand would produce eco-friendly garments made by people who are treated with respect and paid fair wages. However, the prices of ethically produced garments often end up being too steep for the average consumer.

The 2019 Nosto Sustainability in Fashion Retail survey found that “over half (52%) of consumers in the UK and US want the fashion industry to become more sustainable, with calls for reduced packaging and fair pay for workers among their top demands. But only 29% of these consumers say they will pay more for sustainably-made versions of the same items.”

In order for slow fashion to become part of the mainstream, the government as well as the local fashion industry will need to be part of this shift in strategy. Our brands need to do more than just make ‘eco-friendly’ bags once a year. If they want to be on the right side of history, they must develop sustainable policies that can be implemented across product development, supply chain, and human resource management.

Consumer is king

We are all aware that the old normal doesn’t exist anymore, and in its place we are left with crumbling older systems. This may be the perfect time to build a newer, better normal.

But will the local audience agree to it?

Waqar believes that internationally things have been changing since a while, and will continue to change.

“The local market will be slower,” he says. “Local consumers don’t have much for entertainment other than shopping. If people stop buying less it will be due to the oncoming recession, rather than a shift towards sustainability.”

Amaneh thinks along similar lines. She says that instead of four to five collections per season, brands will probably do less as due to the recession consumers will not have the capacity to buy so much.

“The market forces are going to force everybody to slow down,” she adds.

Ultimately, every kind of progress takes time, and while Covid-19 has become a massive hindrance to our way of life, it has also forced us to rethink our priorities. It will take a thorough systematic change for the fledgling sustainable fashion industry in Pakistan to survive in the long run. Until then, it’s up to us to decide if we are willing to pay the true cost of what we wear.