Button it up: Ahmedabad designer Anuj Sharma crafts dresses without a stitch in sight
Sharma takes sustainability seriously and believes one can’t really abide by the philosophy at work without doing the same in day-to-day life
While studying apparel design in 2005, Anuj Sharma saw a man who had buttoned his shirt wrong, and inspiration struck. Imagine a dress with not a single stitch. What, however, holds it together, is an array of buttons running down on all sides.
That, in short, is what Ahmedabad-based Button Masala is all about. Conceived by Sharma in 2006, the brand was born when the NID, Ahmedabad alumnus was invited to showcase in Japan. He won hearts with his innovative Sunday Market collection, which used a simple joinery system to replace sewing.
“I created a concept revolving around buttons. Rather than changing the garments, why not change the mindset? One outfit alone can be fashioned into many iterations by using different buttons and buttonholes. That was my entry into the fashion world. In 2007, I was invited to show the same collection at Lakme Fashion Week,” says the 48-year-old designer.
The technique uses buttons, rubber bands, coins, carom coins, stones—basically any round object that can hold on to the fabric by wrapping the cloth around it. “It is pretty much like the tie-and-dye technique and possibly the cheapest and greenest in the world. Each product can be recycled and restructured by simply removing the buttons and putting them in another place. It can also be used to make carpets, bags, jewellery, shoes and more,” says Sharma, who has held about 30 Button Masala workshops in Sweden, South Africa, Germany, Denmark, Sri Lanka and Holland.
The design ethos is just to keep everything simple. “The idea is to create something that takes less time to produce, is economical and sustainable. One should be able to change the garment more often. It’s also a one-size-fits-all concept,” he says Sharma.
The brand, which caters to clients through its Instagram page, does not believe in crafting seasonal collections. “The fashion show cycle does not define us. We keep doing new pieces as and when we like, and also come up with different versions of old designs,” says the entrepreneur, who loves using primary colours and has a special penchant for indigo, besides shades of orange and green.
Sharma takes sustainability seriously and believes one can’t really abide by the philosophy at work without doing the same in day-to-day life. Little wonder then, that he loves to use handmade and organic fabrics. “We also use knit jersey fabric, which is stretchable and does not create wrinkles. It is also easier to mould. Actually, for me, it is the technique that is the mainstay,” says the designer, who decided on fashion as a career, because, “I drew well”.
“I started studying fashion without really knowing what it was, and learned on the way,” he adds. But, now that his knowledge of the field has evolved, he believes that free-falling fabrics should be the calling cards.
“I believe that drapes should be in focus and we should stop following the Western silhouette. It makes a dress free-flowing; one could easily perform any action in it without being constrained by the stitching. There is also more ventilation. This is what drives my brand,” says Sharma, who draws inspiration from ethnic and traditional Indian wear across cultures.