Modern views & traditional looms: An Interview with Kshitij Jalori

Modern views & traditional looms: An Interview with Kshitij Jalori

Kshitij Jalori Lakme Fashion Week

In just three years, fashion and textile designer Kshitij Jalori has managed to alter the way the world views Indian fabrics with his eponymous brand that is deeply rooted in textiles. As he showcased his collection at his first Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive ’19, we got a chance to speak to him about everything from how he stumbled into textile design to his tropical future plans. 

On the Journey & beginning

“I was always interested in the arts as a child and looking at that, my father sent me Mayo college in Ajmer because it had a very good fine arts department. At the time nobody knew what would come of it, But my Bengali fine arts teacher was extremely good, whom I learnt a lot of fine art techniques under.”

It’s because of this training, today, apart from designing clothes and textiles, Kshitij knows how to sketch and paint in various media including watercolours, oil colours, poster paints and other mediums. “A lot of the artwork and prints you see in my collections, are painted and sketched by me.”

Things don’t always turn out as we think they will, and this talented designers story proves this. After Jalori graduated from school, while his father wanted him to join NID, he felt pretty certain he wanted to study fashion at Nift, Delhi. His entrance exam rank at Nift though led him to study textile design. “You can say it was luck that when I gave my exam, my rank was only good enough for a textile seat and not a fashion seat. So I ended up studying textiles and I think that it happened for the best!”

On the experience of working with other designers

Kshitij Jalori has cultivated a distinctive style, having worked with the likes of FabIndia, Sabyasachi, Rta Kapur Chishty and others.

“When I worked on a project for FabIndia, I realised there are huge possibilities with the craft of the country. I was working in a small sector called Sujangarh where a group of women working on Bandhej, at a very grassroots level. We wanted to support the craft, so we tried to improve the techniques and make it more appealing to the customer in the city. I also thought them the craft of Shibori” 

“Working with Rta Kapur Chishti, was where I studied textiles in depth. She wrote the book ‘Saris of India’ and had a huge trunk of saris where I could study the structure and the fabric. My understanding of textiles is very refined, primarily because I had access to some of the best pieces including those that were part of the Vishwakarma exhibition back in 1983.”

Jalori then worked with Philosophy, now a brand by Good Earth, where he met his wife and business partner. He then went on to work with Sabyasachi. “When I first met Sabyasachi, we ended up speaking for three to four hours. I moved to Calcutta and worked with him for two and a half years. Working with Sabyasachi really gave me confidence because I saw people liking and wearing my creations. I always wanted to start my own label, so this gave me the courage to do so.”

“It then took me two years to put my collections together and I launched my label with two collections”

On inspiration

“Ever since I began, I’ve always worked with contradictory elements and have tried to fuse different cultures, picking up influence from across the world.”

Being inspired by, and merging elements from different cultures, Kshitij has carved a niche of creating pieces never seen before,

On the first two collections

Featuring notable techniques of weaves, Kshitij began his journey with two very notable collections. 

“Coromandel Colony was inspired by Chintz artworks of the 16th and 17th century, and it featured exotic motifs like pomegranates in the Banarasi weaves. On the other hand, the Gul BulBul collection was inspired by a Persian story from the 14th century, that essentially narrates a tale of the BulBul’s fascination with Gul.”

On the Lakmé Fashion Week Collection: Moulin Rouge

On speaking about his collection showcasing at Lakmé Fashion Week, Kshitij told us that he began working on it before he launched his label. 

“Moulin Rouge is inspired by the Jazz age and art deco of the ’20s and ’30s. Unlike my earlier collections, Brocades are only a part of this collection. The collection features highly stylized garments with the influence of architecture, a hint of statement embroidered motifs (notice the embroidered eagle) and about seven to eight prints including gold leaf printing.” 

On what draws him to handwoven textiles 

“Our textiles can be used to create something that a designer outside the country would never create. You do not find these diverse crafts and textiles across the world. I find the end result really beautiful and that is what we are all looking for! I use machine mill fabrics too, but the idea is how you use the materials. I believe there is a purpose for everything!

Speaking about Banarasi fabrics Jalori told us, “It’s not that I will only work with this textile, but I understand the fabric to depth. The Banarasi loom gives us so many possibilities to create new designs, that we don’t have with other looms of the country. Also, Banarasi loom is the most advanced compared to other looms. So if one understands that, you can work with any loom. Moving forward, my vision is definitely to make the label a fashionable brand deeply rooted in textiles. Brocade will always be a big part because that’s how I started, but I will be using other textiles as well.”

On preserving textiles and making them more appealing to the millennial audience

“When you look at this show or my old collections, I’ve designed western pieces like bodysuits in handloom textiles. It might not be commercially viable, but it’s new and different. And that’s what people are looking for.”

On future plans and upcoming collections

“I will be launching a very traditional collection called Pakhi Badi, that I’ve partly shown. Currently, the collection only consists of dupattas and sarees, but I am getting fabrics developed and creating stitched garments. Other than that, there are a couple of things on my mind. What I can tell you is, next year is going to be a tropical year for me. You will see influences from Bali, Srilanka and Cambodia in my next few collections.”

Kshitij Jalori showcased his collection titled ‘Moulin Rouge’ at Lakmé Fashion Week, on the 23rd of August. The collection where modern views met traditional weaves, included contemporary silhouettes for the modern woman. The architectural details of the Art Deco movement came through the intricate embroidery and surface textures. The deep colours of the collection portrayed the Jazz age in all its glitz and glamour. Jalori’s magnificent and distinct collection will surely be perfect for every fashionista’s closet. 

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By in Banarasi | Brocade | fashion week | handloom | Kshitij Jalori | LAkme fashion week | Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive '19 | winter/festive '19

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