Kolkata designer Abhishek Ray unveils his brand new Spring-Summer collection
Abhishek Ray may be one of the most sought after couturiers in the city — his eponymous label is hailed by Gen X,Y and Z for its versatility and sartorial range. But the designer, who just released his Spring/Summer line, tells us that his biggest focus still revolves around his clients’ needs, and not around what’s trending on Instagram. Despite being a part of the industry for 15 years, Ray only started his label four and a half years ago, along with his partner Abhilasha Shaw Arora. Ray’s Spring line has a huge focus on sustainability and he really wants you to economize your wardrobe by pairing separates adventurously, and figuring out what works for you.
Tell us something about your Spring/Summer collection.
My new collection is done mostly on khadi linens — a khadi and linen blend, which makes for a really beautiful and free-flowing fabric. I’ve combined that with a lot of chanderi, digital printed silk muslins, and a lot of embroidery, the latter being my forte. Since my clientele is so vast, I do not make segmented collections, my line-up has always been diverse. At times, it’s also about how much you can reap out of an ensemble if you’re shelling out Rs 35,000 or 40,000 on it.
Tell us about your other lines...
I have three lines, basically. The pret line which mostly features pieces below Rs 7,500, and it consists of pieces which you can just wear to work, like a chanderi and tie-dye kurta, maybe. I also have a diffusion wear line, which is something aimed at people who are looking for something a little dressy, but maybe not with too much embroidery or detailing. And finally the couture line, which I do twice a year. I have clients coming to me every second week, and If I have just one look hanging at my store, they find it difficult, and so I’m really trying to build my label up when it comes to output.
What are millennials looking for when they come to you?
You know, the 18 to 24 demographic is going out so often, and it’s usually with the same social circles. And everything’s up on social media. The are not looking to repeat, and they also need to stand out. I tell my young clients that I can always make something specifically for you, and you’ll know you look good in it, instead of trying to fit into a look. I remember this girl from Delhi, she bought this brocade lehenga from me, and paired it with a leather jacket, boots, and some junk jewellery, and it ended up looking so cool.
How do you deal with plagiarism?
There have been boutique owners who’ve bought my clothes and made many pieces out of it, maybe cheaper rip-offs. My clients sometimes come and tell me about them. But of course, people who know my work understand the difference in fabric, embroidery and finishing. Initially I used to get really worked up, but I feel the only way to deal with it, is to keep doing new things!
Is there a designer you look upto?
Sometimes I’ll look at someone’s work and I think, ‘Oh, god. How did they do it?’ When I see something by Alexander McQueen or a Michael Cinco gown, or Gaurav Gupta’s drapes, I’m in awe…. I think of Sabyasachi Mukherjee like a god. I love Anamika Khanna’s work too. I always think about how much effort she has put into making one outfit.