Anuj Sharma explains the Button Masala technique which envisioned sustainability way before the hashtags
Ahmedabad-based designer Anuj Sharma started his trajectory as a Gen Next designer on the Lakme Fashion Week stage, a platform which has launched some of the most prolific names in Indian fashion; that was roughly 13 years back, and this year Sharma went back to the runway where it all began, with a special edit inspired by his first line-up. “I remember I had made the collection using old shirts from the Sunday market in Ahmedabad and it cost me only Rs 700!” he tells us. Sharma is famous for the technique of using unstitched fabrics and using just buttons or rubber bands to create a silhouette.
“Each one of my pieces can be worn in so many different ways, I can probably launch a collection with just one piece (laughs)” he adds. Sharma has also spent years trying to teach the joinery process of Button Masala (the method of working with unstitched fabrics) to people across the world, and has taught at least 35,000 people from various countries. And he helped us understand exactly how he stays committed to this efficient artistry:
Tell us a little about your process…
We don’t cut any fabric, and we use rubber bands and buttons to attach them and adjust them; this can also be removed and styled and structured differently, so you lose nothing. It’s the most sustainable system.
You started thinking about sustainability before anyone else..
Yes, my work has never been about hashtags. I was doing it for my own sustainability, so my work is easier and I don’t have to buy new fabrics as much.
How would you define your designs?
You know, it’s not technically a design, it’s just letting a fabric be itself, which also means it's very changeable and versatile. The same fabric can be worn by parents and their children. So it’s very Indian in that sense, very traditional, the concept that is, not the silhouettes.
You don’t bring out collections like most designers do…
We don’t usually, because our creations have so many possibilities, so we are always doing something new. You can shift and re-adjust buttons everyday and make something new! I can do a whole show with just one fabric! It’s really fantastic having this freedom.
What are the fabrics you use?
We believe in sourcing our fabrics locally; it’s so much more ethical, just buying it from your own neighbourhood, to get a gamcha from your own city!
Do you enjoy the Indian fashion spectrum today?
I do feel everybody is still excited about the glamour of it all. It definitely has a great future, but it has to be shaped by something, it needs direction. You can’t have 10 air conditioners in your home and ask others to be sustainable, so it’s important to be authentic and truthful about your process.