India based designer
Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Saroj Mittra. Kraft Corridor was established in 2017 with a vision to provide a channel to the rural artisans in accessing the mainstream market. Also, encouraging preservation of traditional skills and craft, leading to creation of sustainable livelihood. It aims to bring positive change in the multitudes of artisans in India.
The products of Kraft Corridor are a perfect blend of indigenous skills with modern designs and patterns. Over a period of (around) two years, it has emerged as a luxury womenswear brand. Right from choice of fabrics to using embellishments, the ensembles are hand embroidered in different contemporary styles and have an ethnic feel. It targets women of all age ranges.
What sparked your interest in fashion design?
India is home to multitudes of artisans and each region has its own charm and history of crafts. I was mesmerized by the skills and the elegant hand embroidery inherited by the artisans in Lucknow (in the state of Uttar Pradesh in North India). It inspired me to recreate the magic of traditional crafts.
Can you describe your creative process?
Hand embroideries viz. chikan, zardozi and taarkashi are a huge part of Lucknow’s heritage. With skilled creators all around the place, it has never been difficult to create an authentic hand embroidered fabric or outfit.
However, with all kinds of machine embroidery flooding in to the market, the artisans are finding it a challenge to match the cost. Therefore, our creative process starts with creating unique designs by amalgamating modern silhouettes with different techniques such as digital printing, hand painting, block printing, and using fusion of traditional techniques including hand embroidery.
What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
The ability to create masterpieces using traditional skills, is my favourite part of being a designer. Being an avid observer of trends; we like to explore with colours, techniques and unique crafts.
Being able to create new styles is what drives me to design.
How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?
Lucknow’s chikan embroidery is known to be more than 2000 year old. It is very exciting to work with artisans who have lineage to the traditional crafts. We work very closely with the artisans, primarily women artisans.
Our designs are influenced by the culture and heritage of Lucknow and we deliberately keep some elements of the traditional craft in each and every contemporary design that we create.
In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?
We are most excited to present our collection. It will be our first attempt to go completely international in terms of silhouettes, but the colours and hand embroidery will have the traditional Indian essence which will make it interesting.
We are also looking forward to interacting with other international designers and buyers who would be coming to Vancouver Fashion Week. We intend get exposure on the current demands of the international market which will enable us to expand to new markets in near future.
What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?
Our primary inspiration is drawn from an Urdu word called “Rubaaya” which means “God’s creation.” This is also the name of our collection.
We have conceived some motifs and patterns from nature and universe which we have incorporated in our silhouettes. Also, we have kept the concept of sustainability and zero wastage while designing the collection.
We will be utilizing all the materials from the collection, with an intent to integrate this into our regular process of production. We are also focusing on ecological methods of production such as natural dyeing and hand embroidery with no chemical threads. In addition to this, we will be working with a mix of bright and pastel shades as well as structured silhouettes.
What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?
I hope the audience will love the use of colours and sprinkle of hand embroidery. It will be highly contemporary yet will have an essence of traditional touch to the collection.
Thank you for speaking with us Saroj! We look forward to seeing your brand on the VFW runway.