A panel discussion on the aspects of re-building the concepts of costume designing and styling for Bollywood, merging the earlier concepts with new ideas and the nuances of styling in the field of Bollywood, was hosted by the Department Of Fashion Design of National Institute Of Fashion Technology, Mumbai.
The panelists included eminent industry experts: Costume designers and Stylists, Ms. Rushi Sharma and Ms. Manoshi Nath of RushiManoshi, Bollywood costume designer, Mr. Sheetal Sharma and Costume researcher and designer, Mr. Shivank Kapoor.
Sustainability has beenan important concept in the fashion industry for quite some time now. It means to create in an ethical way i.e. the process and the product has to be morally, economically and environmentally correct. Sustainability will be of utmost importance especially after Covid-19 crisis where people will be more conscious of their buying habits and purchase decisions. This webinar too, had panelists talk about how the scenario of fashion industry and Bollywood will change after the pandemic. Mr. Sheetal Sharma suggested that the teams can be divided into two and we can have a shift system wherein one team will come earlier and then after a gap for a few hours for sanitization, the next unit can come.He also suggested that we need to manage our time while we are sitting at our homes because we might not get the same opportunity to work on the future projects or even take care of ourselves. This is the perfect chance for us to utilize our time as much as we can. According to Ms. Manoshi Nath, we need to think about the ones who are unemployed
during the crisis and come up with a cohesive plan to move forward. Proper SOP’s of sanitization needs to be done since costume production and design requires a lot of different sourcing and fabrication stages to be involved. This means more points of contact between, stores, assistants, dress men, tailors, embroiderers, dry cleaners, transport team etc, therefore leading to an increased risk of Covid-19. So to combat this issue, proper sanitization and frequent laundry facilities should be incorporated. She also suggested that, in order to protect the staff, the number of teams will have to be split up with separate teams for sourcing, prep of costumes and presence on set team which interacts with an actor handles the set must have minimum external interaction. Interaction between people has to be done at a safe distance and a place, which is properly sanitized. Also, 24 hours isolation of garments or costumes will have to be done for minimizing the risk of cross transmission.
According to Designer, Shivank Kapoor, Sustainability after Covid-19 we need to think about the ones who are unemployed during the crisis and come up with a cohesive plan to move forward. Proper sanitization needs to be done since film production and styling requires a lot of different units to be involved which means more points of contact therefore leading to an increased risk of Covid-19. So to combat this issue, proper sanitization and frequent laundering facilities should be incorporated. She also suggested that, in order to protect the staff, the amount of teams will have to be minimized and interaction between people has to be done at a safe distance and a place, which is properly sanitized. Also, 24 hours isolation of garments or costumes will have to be done for minimizing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 particles.
According to Designer, Shivank Kapoor, Sustainability after Covid-19 will be about having a moral responsibility of how we’ll be working. Generating more job opportunities, reusing leftover inventory, creating new collections from scratch after detailed research and providing fair and decent wages to all. Upcycling, reusing and recycling should be incorporated too. Kapoor also proposed the idea of thrift stores in the country since these stores service the environmentally and ethically conscious customers of today who do not have the resources to buy from high end or luxury brands. Shifting to thrift is a simple and effective way to become a more conscious consumer since it reduces their contribution to fast fashion.
To explain sustainability, Rushi Sharma explained the three P’s of sustainability i.e. People, Planet and Profit. To be socially responsible, costume designers need to create an ecosystem with their supply chain- Farmers, weavers, dyers, embroiders, kaarigars and Master tailors. She talked about the campaign #whomademyclothes, which talks about big brands to be aware of who is making their clothes, similarly we as designers need to know who is weaving our fabric and growing our cotton. Knowing your supply chain addresses issues like Fair trade, fair payment and fair treatment and it leads to an ethical product. As designers can get involved in the process of using organic seeds, saving water, replacing harmful chemicals ,using ancient and sustainable weaving techniques, to name a few. Her advice to the designers just starting out is to think about sustainability at the time of design and conception, that is the only way to make it work. Another important point she talked about was to get the film producers to understand the importance of the supply chain and to learn about an ethical product and bring them into the ecosystem.
Manoshi Nath and Rushi Sharma, who are known for their quirky sartorial choices mentioned about the brand, One for Blue which makes t-shirts out of recycle bottles that are found from the ocean. They suggested that we need to source our fabrics from Khadi gram Udyog and other such stores which support organic and ethical clothing. Sharma spoke briefly about how there’s a need to transition into slow costume design from fast costume design similar to how we’re moving from fast fashion to slow fashion. Instead of buying a t-shirt from Zara which will hardly last for three months and after which we’ll have to buy one again, what we need to do is invest on one t-shirt which is of high quality, will probably last longer and whose chances of ending up in a landfill is slim to zero.
Shivank Kapoor also supported this idea of quality over quantity and being more mindful while shopping or producing clothing. When asked about how we can educate ourselves on this topic, Rushi and Manoshi encouraged the viewers to go for pineapple leather and mushroom leather and use armors made of rubber instead of real or faux leather. For educating the consumers, they suggested that people can read about various materials and chemicals that are used for the production of garments and the best source for finding this information is the UN reportwhich gives an insight into the kind of materials and chemicals that are harmful or not. Apart from that, consumers can go to the section where brands talk about how they’re making sure that their supply chain has sustainability at the core.
When asked about how Bollywood has been supporting fast fashion, fashion stylist Sheetal Sharma answered that there’s a social stigma that celebrities will be pointed out if they repeat their clothes and he also talked about how he irrelevant he feels the concept of airport looks is because there’s no such need for a person to curate an entire look for airport when all you need to be is comfortable while travelling. So a simple pair of joggers or basic t-shirts also can do the job pretty well.
The whole stigma that revolves around being pointed at solely because you stepped out wearing the same outfit again is what is wrong with the society and probably one of the reasons why we’re finding it hard to move towards slow fashion. Consumers look upto celebrities and follow their footsteps so it’s important that they’re made aware of where the clothes end up. On a personal level, Sheetal Sharma believes in sourcing vintage stuff to make new things and for that, he explores the old markets in Mumbai and other cities. Having said that, he feels that there are some actors like Rajkumar Rao and Nandita Das to name a few who are aware of the problem and are open to the idea of reusing the same outfit or even using one from their own wardrobe. He said that today, celebrities have become more aware and are conscious of their buying habits and do not really mind repeating their outfits in public and this has inspired the consumers to do the same. He also suggested that stylists and designers can redesign a garment or style it differently every time to increase its longevity.
Lastly the conversation shifted to how new comers and fresh graduates can build contacts. Shivank Kapoor recalled his graduation days and gave suggestions that came solely from his own experiences like visiting and sourcing fabrics from various parts of cities, talking to the designers or stylists personally, interacting with the alumni, researching about things in detail and sharing notes with each other etc. Some of the other skills and traits required include being oriented, hardworking, have love for fashion and movies, right attitude, the ability to work with fresh directors and producers, building a rapo to get recommendations etc.
– Report by Vasavi Mehta