'Change excites me': Ace designer Amit Aggarwal on completing a decade long glorious journey
Amit Aggarwal is a force to reckon with in the fashion world. Over the years, he has engineered a design dialogue with glamorous ensembles that champion no-waste, diversity and inclusivity
Nothing is banal when it comes to the Indian fashion landscape that’s always sprouting new ideas, inventions and discoveries. At label Amit Aggarwal, all of this stands true. In fact, the ace designer births a design vocabulary that is in tandem with innovation, modernity and green fashion.
For the first, he showed how new age design technologies like 3D embroideries, ribbing through polymer, fine draping and pleating, possibly spearhead a sartorial revolution. In terms of modernity, he thrives with creations that are sassy and glamorous, crafted for a generation that’s aware of its personal style. Most strikingly, the experimentative designer has turned the tides on the sustainability front by showing the art of crafting elegant couture from recycled waste with aplomb.
His collections reflect a detailed study of various fields of academics. There are times when he is inspired by the biology of life forms, other times he’s into mathematics that renders precision to his ensembles. He seeks art for creativity and architecture to sculpt stellar collections. Going beyond mere aesthetics and design, his creations are engineering marvels, one could say. On his 10-year anniversary marked with his new collection, Pedesis, the designer tells us about his influences, ideas, career, and evolution.
Metallics and mathematics
The people we spend the most time with shape who we are. And when it’s family, their influences are the most impressionable. For Amit, his family’s aptitude in science and art coupled with his own natural interest in design shaped his career choice. “My father was an engineer. I used to see him work on industrial projects and was curious about the layout of his mathematical blueprints, as a kid. My mother, on the other hand, wanted to be a doctor but she couldn’t become one, so she always wanted me to fulfil her dream. While I did not take it up, I was intrigued by biology and the study of organic life. In my school days, during exams, I would attempt the bio-diagram question in the end, after finishing the whole paper, so I could draw the life forms creatively without a hurry. Coming to design, my chacha (uncle) was an interior designer and worked with finer aesthetics in art. Altogether, such a family greatly shaped my aptitude for design.”
Amit’s influences in science and art subconsciously transpired with creations. For one, his 2018 couture collection Crystalis is a fitting ode to form, structure and biology. There, he showcased the wondrous natural phenomenon of the formation of crystals and the enveloping of a shiny metallic chrysalis around a butterfly’s cocoon. Even his latest collection Pedesis marries art with the science of engineering to construct armour-like forms. Showcased at the FDCI India Couture Week 2022, the collection was lauded for its portrayal of avant-garde modernisation of traditional ikat. The ensembles portrayed abstract shapes and dazzled in the luminosity of fluid metallic colours. It indeed was a reflection of the designer’s engineering mind.
Telling us about the making process he shares, “The techniques used for the collection reflect the fluidity of time: from structuring our silhouettes through rubber cording to create armour-like forms to using draped fluid forms with tube pleating. In terms of fabrics, we have always married new-age materials with traditional techniques and we further refined this approach in the Pedesis collection.” He shares that in the latest collection, the polymer was first converted into yarn and then woven on the handloom to create an altogether unique fabric.
Go green with innovation
The designer is a force to reckon with, always keen on exploring cutting-edge technology that can produce low-waste creations. His inventiveness is achieved by his constant thirst for knowledge. “I am a constant learner. I do not want to feel that just because I am old, I should stop imbibing knowledge about new trends, technologies or concepts. I feel the only way to stay relevant is to be armed with knowledge and light which is the path to growth.” He adds, “With our design house, I aim to take risks and learn from my mistakes. It doesn’t matter if I fall flat on my face, but experimenting and learning are key.”
The designer is to be credited for introducing new-age materials that are sustainable. From discarded PVC and glass fibre to polymer and plastic, his atelier knows how to convert them into stunning ensembles that reflect craftsmanship and novelty. On being asked about his eco-friendly materials he says, “They are sourced from industrial units where polymer is the material that comes to our atelier on a regular basis. It is processed into yarn and then handcrafted to create ensembles.”
His unique experiments have given rise to eco-friendly edits. For one, his untitled readyto-wear SS’16 collection was groundbreaking on both the sustainability and innovation front where he masterfully blended patches of utilitarian gamchha(towel) with melted poly bag stripes attached to parts of old apparel giving rise to upcycled pieces. A year later, in his Summer Resort 2017 collection, he upcycled old discarded patola saris and gave them a new lease of life with bonding, pleating and signature recycled sequin work. In another of his collections titled iCloud, the designer left us awestruck with the way he created the nostalgia of our childhood days with dreamy ensembles made of recycled sequin waste, doll eyes, CDs fused with sheer layers and more.
For a long time, the couture and occasion wear market has been flooded with pieces that score less on comfort, sustainability and diversity in innovation and are more about just sheer opulence. However, Amit’s creations stand apart. His ensembles are distinguished for their light-weight comfort, functionality, and exude elegance with contemporary designs. At the same time, they marry Indian craftsmanship that makes them heirloom worthy.
In a way, over the last decade, the couturier has broken the notion that only heavily embroidered ensembles meshed with age-old crafts have heirloom value. In his design lexicon, the ensembles can be ultra glamorous, and modern and yet be a reflection of culture transcending generations. He says, “What I have been creating today is having wider acceptability, especially among the youth which was not the case 10 years ago. Today, people have become more accepting of concepts like sustainability, functionality and comfort. They’re not mindless spenders. They’re also more self-aware of their personal style and want to wear something that reflects their individuality.”
This is why, one observes an increasing likeability for his creations as they are comfortable, low maintenance and save time and effort in wearing and restoration. At the same time, they reflect the individuality of the wearer.
Amit’s pathbreaking evolution entails constant learning. He tells us about his idea of growth and what he is going to explore in the future, “Change excites me. There is no point in holding on to the past if it doesn’t resonate with the larger world in the present. Although, my designs might seem futuristic, they are technically all handmade. There is no laser cutting or electrical discharge machining there. We focus on fabric engineering to ensure our designs are all contemporary. Now, I’m excited about new ways of presenting and understanding fashion. The world of NFT, crypto, broadening scope of graphic design, understanding how AI and nanotechnology can help us visualise better — is certainly something I’m interested in.”
Concepts like diversity and representation are becoming important for labels. Designers are gradually acknowledging the role of models by making their names public while presenting their collections in their virtual posts. Now we see which model is strutting in which ensemble.
However, Amit who for a long time has been working with models that defy colourism, ageism and gender binary —is more keen on working on diversity in an organic way. “I aim to celebrate every life form that exists. I do not think of particularly making an attempt to bring an alternate side of reality, be it in terms of gender or skin colour or age. When I create something, I think of the emotions that person is feeling so my ensembles are created keeping in mind the expressive side of the individual, not the social barriers that separate us. I do not wish to be called a champion of diversity and inclusion, it is very much part and parcel of the way I look at life. In my view, there is no alternate reality that exists, but rather, I hope to celebrate everyone in their guileless self.”
Talking about how he has become more appreciative of art and life after the lockdown, he tells us, “The pandemic has made me understand that life is what you make of it and we’re nothing without the love and support of those who care for us. We certainly can’t take them for granted. We must spend every moment of our lives simply appreciating them. In terms of my work, it has allowed me to relish the slowness of the creative process without always worrying about the end result.”