Interview with Rahul Mishra

Rahul Mishra
Rahul Mishra

How has globalisation and the Internet both fed fast fashion yet also expanded slow fashion? (Ex: by-passing retail buyers; utilising indigenous skills). Is this a paradox that slow fashion can utilise to its advantage?

Global boundaries are dissolving with ever-changing times, and we see fashion more universal than ever. This is the era of communication, and fashion is one of the most effective tools-information travels at the speed of light. Fashion has much bigger reach, and it is influencing us like never before. According to me, fashion can bring about positive changes in society, if we practice the sustainable approach. The newness in fashion thrives on unique design language, and it cannot be created in isolation; so one always needs to work with strong references. These references can be drawn from the raditional craft and practices very efficiently. I think the best fashion or product can be designed when one can see far back in the past, and create something for the future. The idea of fashion is the strongest, when unique design language is based on one's culture and tradition. When I work with large group of rural weavers practicing traditional craft in India, I get astonished with the power of fashion. Unlike any other profession, fashion allows a humble villager who has never been to any school, the power to dream. It helps him/her to satisfy his/her hunger as an artist and at the same time he/she is able to afford all modern necessities.

In your opinion, what are the biggest influences towards the slow fashion movement?

Slowing down the process of fashion gives protection to handwork and greater importance to human skills, reverts back to natural sources and resources from a specific region, optimises usage of natural fibres and thus can mean a larger impact, if-yes-recession and social conscience are added as bait.

What feedback do you get from customers about how they feel in your products versus their experience of fast fashion?

I do get great comments and testimonials from customers. They say amazing things about the craftsmanship and the storytelling; they feel the instant connect with the product and feel the life in them.

What are some major similarities and differences between haute couture and slow fashion? Can slow fashion bring some couture aspects successfully to the wider public?

In my opinion not all haute couture is slow fashion; slow fashion needs to be done in eco-friendly ways. The perception of couture being similar to slow fashion makes it perceived as an expensive option. Slow fashion can be handmade, something reused or recycled. Slow fashion is also dependent on the slowness of fibre; for example, the slow fibres like wool, silk and cotton are best to practice slow fashion.

Why do you believe the fast-fashion paradigm is unsustainable/illogical (I assume you do) and how would you answer someone who says: "seems good to me, customers get what they want, brands make good profits?"

The fashion industry has broadly classified itself into two fashion seasons: spring/summer and fall/winter. Now the fast forward fashion industry is churning out many "micro-seasons" per year. With new trends coming out every week, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. And to be able to produce so rapidly, one has to look at fast fibre; that is why most of our fast fashion clothing today is made with synthetic, petroleum-based fibres. It will take decades for these garments to decompose, when they go into landfills. This process is based on heavy mechanisation, although it employs millions of people. Yet it creates huge unemployment for the craft sector as it leads to decline in demand in the craft sector.

Do you consider slow fashion a reaction trend, or do you believe it can truly alter the way the fashion paradigm exists today?

I think the idea of social responsibility completely depends on empowerment of the less privileged population. Whenever I start working on any project I think of this, and get the critical direction for my process. That is why we always work with traditional handloom and hand-embroideries to employ and empower rural weavers of India. I always think of the three E's when I start to create a collection: environment, employment and empowerment, and if you can think about all these things then your product will be perfect. That is the way forward for all products, and the right way to be socially and environmentally responsible. It applies to all industries, not just fashion. For me life exists with imperfection. This imperfection is created by slow fashion. When a garment is produced by multiple hands, and involves various hand processes, they get imperfection, which is like a footprint of the handwork, which any individual product or piece has gone through.
Published on: 15/07/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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