Kolkata-based designer Abhishek Dutta completes 15 years in fashion industry
Talk about fashion industry in Kolkata and the one name that is sure to come up is that of Abhishek Dutta’s. The young and ever-smiling couturier, known for his quirky, bespoke leather creations, has completed 15 years as a dressmaker. Dutta is perhaps the only one from his generation (alongside Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and others), who has chosen not to shift base from Kolkata.
An experimental designer with a love for all things grunge, Dutta has skilfully deployed fashion for a social cause by setting up a prêt workshop at the Presidency Correctional Facility premises, where more than 41 jail inmates are now gainfully employed. “It has been one overwhelming journey so far, and I plan to celebrate it by showcasing all the styles and design highlights of my career,” he explains, as he gets ready for a gala show on February 23 to celebrate his success, which will be attended by the who’s who of the Kolkata social circuit.
Ahead of the big show, Dutta, who has been worn by Bollywood A-listers including Sanjay Dutt, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Irrfan, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Jaqueline Fernandes besides others, shares with us his future plans and thoughts on fashion now and then. Excerpts:
How has the journey been so far?
It has really been a great one so far. There were struggles, too, but I won’t complain about that since that’s a part and parcel of being in a fiercely competitive industry such as fashion. I enjoyed the years tremendously and I look forward to the years ahead.
How much has fashion changed in all these years?
Fashion is a cyclical process and trends and styles always come back in cycle. Having said that, fashion is also about trends and is an ever-changing process with new styles and cuts coming up every few days. From customer point of view, buyers nowadays are a lot more appreciative and understand trends. Previously, ordinary customers used to invest in designer wear only for special occasions in their life such as weddings. Now, we see a lot of young and aspiring men and women buying designer labels for even a special date or parties. We also see many Indian designers and boutiques opening shop abroad and successfully so.
Design wise, too, there has been a sea of change. In the late 90s when we began the stress was more on heavy embroidery works and ornate designs but the sartorial styles have now become more refined with more emphasis on placement embroidery and simple cuts. Fashionistas, too have become experimental and bolder and ready to try unconventional cuts and looks.
How up-to-date is Kolkata when it comes to fashion?
Kolkata is yet to catch up with Delhi and Mumbai in terms of fashion. But the appreciation for fashion has increased and now women here are investing more in designer wears. I have many customers here, who book clothes even before they are showcased in fashion weeks because they want to be the first ones to flaunt them.
How much have you changed as a designer?
I have become more matured as a designer, I feel. I have always been experimental and create out-of-the-box designs. I still continue to do that but have tone it down to a level where my customers can carry comfortably.
You had opened your flagship store for men last year, what are the plans for this year?
I have come up with a 2,000 sq ft store near Ballygunge Circular Road, where both clothes and accessories for both men and women will be available under one roof. It will take another four-five months for the store to be operational. I have already introduced shoes under my label and now, stylish bags, too, will be available. Besides, interesting product lines based on wearable technology will be unveiled soon.
Do film industry and celebrities still dictate fashion trends in India?
Definitely they do and fans follow their style on red carpet appearances and airport looks like crazy. Following fashion icons like Sonam Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and others just goes to show that aping Bollywood in terms of fashion is not going to go away and a fashion designer’s identity in India still depends to a great extent upon which celebrities wear them.
Your favourite designer: Rajesh Pratap for his simple yet detailed work
Most well dressed celeb: Ayushman Khurrana and Deepika Padukone
A celeb, who needs a little fashion help: Shradha Kapoor
Who cares a damn about looks: Radhika Apte, her personality overpowers what she wears
Wardrobe must haves: A pair of well-fitted denims, white linen shirt, a pair of nice Brogue shoes and sneakers for men and stilettos for women. A nice party dress apart from an LBB is a must
A classic cut that will never go out of fashion: A lines for women and a well-fitted tuxedo or a lapel jacket for men