Couturier Samant Chauhan chats with us about his brand new flagship in Kolkata
Kolkata is on its way to becoming a powerhouse in high fashion as yet another couturier launched his flagship in the city. Galleria 1910 now houses designer Samant Chauhan’s first Kolkata store and saw its soft launch recently. Chauhan’s design house has always been loyal to homegrown heritage and native crafts; unlike most luxury labels which often get carried away by international, high fashion aesthetics, Chauhan’s label has been deeply rooted to the nuances and appreciation of desi artistry. “My label has never been influenced by trends, I still believe fashion is an investment where you buy a piece and pass it down to generations,” he tells us. We caught up with the designer to get to know his plans for the city:
Tell us how you feel about the heritage space of Galleria 1910 where your flagship is located
It's beautifully restored and it's aesthetically really perfect, in terms of architecture as well.
Did you have buyers from Kolkata in your clientele?
So many! Once we launched here, we got to learn how much people love us here. I met some people who usually fly to Delhi to shop from me, they are already our existing clientele and they are so glad we've finally arrived in the city.
What do you think about their buying patterns?
People here are very particular about the finish and the craft because they are used to the best of craftsmanship which originates here. Their tastes are really refined, they understand and appreciate the techniques of embroideries and the distinction in fabrics. The sari has a great demand here, so many people come in from Bangladesh to shop here too.
Your spring summer 2020 lineup could go really big this season...
It's called Starry Night, it is inspired by Van Gogh's famous painting of course. When he painted it, Paris was going through industrialisation and it's happening here now. If you want to see stars you have to drive out 200 kms just to look at the sky, the collection addresses this reality. I've used some cotton and silks, there's sequin work and zardosi. The line-up features some corsets, trousers, gowns.
How hard is it to sustain a luxury label in the country right now?
My label has always been about affordable luxury. Fashion is changing so fast, people are very quick to point out when you go back to the same things, it's crucial to balance the newness. When an i-Phone comes out you know what needs work, be it the battery life or the camera; fashion is very different, it's completely unpredictable, that's been a challenge.
Do you enjoy the fashion scene in India now?
Yes, it has evolved so much. When we were in NIFT, we would look up to international fashions, their narratives. Then of course, we started looking inward, our generation of designers are all working on homegrown crafts and that's something that makes me proud.
What are you working on next?
We do want to expand our retail, we are aiming for some more stores across the country in the next year. We are also coming up with our sari collection, it's completely hand-woven in Bhagalpuri silk.
One woman whose style you admire?