Fashion has always been about experimentation and customisation — from fabrics and colours to prints and cuts. And currently riding a big wave of popularity is a blend of digital prints and traditional embellishments.
Siddartha Tytler is one of the pioneers of infusing digital prints with traditional embellishments. From infusing interesting prints such as snakeskin with textured fabrics like pinstripes and checks to net overlay, laser-cut work with crystal embellishments, he has done it all. Talking about the trend, he says, “Digital printing has been with us for sometime now, but it all depends on how one interprets it every season. This season our prints were very basic, with an ombre effect — so instead of using dyes we used digital printing.”
Being in the industry for around 18 years now, Tytler has done numerous experiments with design. “We have tried and tested, at times failed, but with time we have learnt how to balance the look. If the prints are heavy, the embellishments are light, and if the print is light, we embellish it.”
Designer Payal Jain strongly feels that today’s fashion consumer is extremely discerning as far as current trends are concerned, and also appreciates Indian textiles and crafts. “The current trend followed by most fashion brands of fusing modern prints and motifs with traditional embroidery techniques stems from this consumer preference and consequently, provides the youth of today with fashion that is contemporary as well as rooted in tradition, maintaining a balance between the old and new, modern and traditional, East and West.”
Technology plays a very strong part in fashion. 3D and now 4D printing is taking the fashion world by storm and making a huge statement. “Anything is possible with this printing technique and everything conceivable can be interpreted on fabric,” says Jain, who sees it as a boon for designers and creative people who live through their imagination and usually face problems converting these visions into reality. 3D and 4D printing are removing these road blocks and have made it easy to convert the most bizarre ideas into form. “Laser printing also allows a lot of experimentation for designers to work with multiple layers and dimensions, surface ornamentation and fabric treatments, which are an exciting new addition to the fashion repertoire for today’s consumer.”
Adding to it, Saggar Mehra, creative director at Sunil Mehra, says, “Precise cuts in fabric through laser brings out clean, accurate and clear cut designs. The technique lessens the time-consuming handwork to quick and delicate designs through machinery.”
And there is a lot more that tech is bringing to fashion. “We are getting fabric which cools off and heats up according to the body and environment around it.
However, this is just a concept and the process of commercialisation is yet to start. We designers are like children, we like new toys to play with. One does not necessarily have to be stuck to old and boring concepts. You need to move on with time, otherwise it doesn’t take much time to be forgotten,” adds Tytler.
While technology introduces new trends, tradition is maintained by handmade embroideries and traditional art of dyeing. So, is there any fear of tech overpowering the traditional roots? “With technology entering the fashion space, there is no fear of losing the traditional touch. As the economists say — lesser the supply, more the demand, and vice versa. It also depends on the brand ideology — some brands choose to work with craftsmanship only while some choose to work with both. Either way, as long as the demand persists, there is no fear of losing traditional touch,” says Mehra.
“Our strength as Indian designers will always be our rich heritage and textile legacy; if we lose that, we would lose our identity,” asserts Jain. “The world comes to India for our craft, textile, printing traditions and embroidery techniques, we cannot forget those and ape the West because that’s what sets us apart from them and brings buyers to us. If they simply wanted digital prints, there are enough creative resources available to them in their own countries.”...