The ‘Bag’ Packers: Stepping out to find inspiration

It is customary for people from the fashion fraternity to cite travel as a major inspiration in at least one (if not more) collection that they have created

author_img Simi Kuriakose Published :  25th June 2022 03:27 PM   |   Published :   |  25th June 2022 03:27 PM
Stepping out to find inspiration

The ‘Bag’ Packers

It is customary for people from the fashion fraternity to cite travel as a major inspiration in at least one (if not more) collection that they have created. Honestly, it isn’t surprising. Travel, much like fashion, opens our minds to fresh trends and unique experiences. Shirin Mann, founder of NEEDLEDUST and SAND by Shirin, is no different. Proclaiming that she caught the “travel bug” very young, Mann spends some time during vacations to “meet local designers and understand the artisan excellence of a country”. In this tête-a-tête with The Morning Standard, Mann divulges all her travel secrets. Excerpts....

First memory of travel...
I was just three years old when I visited California,USA, with my family for my mother’s younger brother’s wedding. I have vivid memories of going to Disneyland—the spectacular shows and the Disney character parade is etched in my memory. My mother also took my brother and me on road trips to the lakes in and around California. It was beautiful. I remember a playground by the lake in San Francisco… It is my first travel memory. 

Images of Shirin Mann from her 
Euro trip  

An offbeat international destination you have had fun travelling to...
It has to be Tulum, which is a beautiful coastal town—white sand and pristine beaches—in Mexico close to Cancun. We were in one of the loveliest properties; think Mexican vibe and great cocktails. Tulum is known for a nomadic way of living. The hotels’ architecture and homes are interesting to see. I had the most fun in Tulum because it is a small town that is far out. 

I’ll take the liberty of adding another destination. While driving along the Amalfi coast, we went to Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, and Capri. It was beautiful. We took our boat out in the middle of the sea to swim and snorkel around. We drove by the entire Amalfi coastline, tried quaint places to eat at, met locals, went to cliff restaurants, found a few nice, tiny boutiques, and even met artisans and designers there. It was  such a memorable trip.

On not being able to travel during the lockdown...
I love travelling and make it a point to travel two or three times a year. The fact that I could not go anywhere, in or outside the country, was actually quite upsetting. At that point [during lockdown], one did not even know if the world would ever open again because times were such. What I really missed is one thing: when I travel, it is not just about seeing beautiful places but also about meeting different people from different regions and ethnicities. I missed making new friends, trying new food, and understanding more about other cultures. 

On incorporating designs inspired by travel...
Absolutely! Every place that I travel to, I come back with inspiration and that, for sure, I add to NEEDLEDUST designs. For example, when I was back from Tulum, I designed a jutti called Tulum—macramé is a local handicraft in Mexico. The final design is a beautiful macramé pattern mixed with shells and in earthy tones. I am always inspired by the local crafts of a place. 

On your travel bucket list...
One thing that is on my travel bucket list is driving along the south of Spain. It has to be one of the most beautiful trips that I have had. There are so many places I want to visit in Asia—Vietnam and the Philippines. I really want to go to the Puglia [southern] region in Italy; honestly, that might actually be my next one. I also always wanted to go to the south of France, specifically Saint-Tropez. The world is so big and there is so little time; I am hoping I can get to visit a lot of beautiful places.