Interviewed by Rohan Dhar
Ishita speaks exclusively to Midage Media on ‘The Silk Concept’
Guwahati: Northeast has an ingrained connection with fashion.
From traditional and ethnic fashion styles to the western ways of clothing, this part of the country has always remained distinct and a frontrunner among other states.
Midage Media tries to explore deep into the functioning of the fashion industry in the State of Assam, its challenges and its long-running hegemony in silk products.
In an exclusive interview with Midage Media, Ishita Das, a fashion graduate from Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore talks on ‘The Silk Concept’ and its social impact on the weavers from the region.
Midage Media: Hello, Ishita, could you please put some light on this Silk Concept.
Ishita: The Silk Concept is a socially innovative label where we create & innovate handwoven Khadi Eri Silk with other organic textiles products from Assam, North-East India, in order to revive weavers from that region, preserve & promote weavers, to connect people, places & products, to be able to create products that are universally accepted irrespective of gender, culture, countries, communities & season, to bring transparency in the supply chain & be responsible for it.
Midage Media: How did you start initially?
Ishita: There has been lack of awareness about Assam silk weaving industry in other parts of India as well as globally. So I took up a Mission to spread awareness about my culture, community & the silk weaves behind it & connect them with a silk product that will be a storytelling pieces to be cherished. Thankfully, with the help of my family support & few savings, I started ‘The Silk Concept’ weaving world through silk...
Midage Media: Ishita, What made you take up fashion as a career? What inspired you to be a fashion designer?
Ishita: Well, my grandmother, she was a weaver and a designer and she crafted beautiful ‘Mekhla Chadars’ and she also owned a boutique named Emily’s workshop. My mother on the other hand worked with lots of weavers in Assam, she has an NGO named Togorr & a Boutique CPink in the Guwahati city, so initially, I would say they are my inspiration. Then, I started my research journey for this label (TSC) back in 2017 during my final year in college days in Singapore. I realized that not many people were aware of my state; Assam or the handloom industry that she had proudly grown up with. Then with time in 2018, I started my social media page to mainly bring awareness to this part of the world where it is less known or touched upon. It went beyond textiles. It was a platform that spoke highly about her communities, culture & craftsmanship. Also, through this journey, in 2019 I concentrated on promoting a small accessories line to make people understand the non-violence Eri handloom silk that her label planned on using. This helped me to start building the community for my niche products & creating the demand for her supplies. These accessories can be found in luxury homegrown multi-designer stores in New Delhi & Mumbai.
It is to be noted that Ishita Das was interned as a Fashion Stylist for Harper’s Bazzar Bride. She has experience in graphic designing for Banyan Tree Resort & Matter Prints, Singapore. She has also worked as a Project Manager & Digital Head for Wedding Asia and completed high school from a boarding School Mayo College Girls School in Ajmer, Rajasthan.
Midage Media: Who’s your Role Mode from the Fashion Industry?
Ishita: Renyung Ho, the founder of Matter Prints in Singapore. Her vision is to see people celebrating artisanal pants to travel with. More importantly how she connects people, places & products together in a story telling way.
Aneeth Arora, founder of Pero. Her journey with the people that she works with & uplifts them is so inspirational. Her design is so innovative & her pieces that connects with people all across the globe. She beautifully archives her entire journey & is so transparent with her consumer & supply chain.
Midage Media: When did you decide to promote Assam Silk globally?
Ishita: During my boarding school days in Rajasthan & in college days in Singapore, I realized that no one knew about Assamese textiles & it’s silk.
Midage Media: When did you realize that you wanted to start your own business?
Ishita: In my final year while I was in college. I knew there was a huge potential for a brand like mine as it is culturally authentic with thoughtful innovation to be accepted in other Indian states and countries around the world. More importantly, it's rooted from a particular place that is less known or touched upon even in India.
Midage Media: Thank You, Ishita for joining us, Best wishes for the future.
Over these years, The Silk Concept had the opportunity to collaborate with Pearl Academy, New Delhi for industry projects with the students. The end product was beautiful where few students had the opportunity to exclusively use herbal dyed Eri Silk to construct their unisex outwear collection. With time, we will be putting their work as part of the brand clothing line to motivate students to use local made fabric. It’s worth mentioning that The Silk Concept official video was shot by Aman Chottani who is a professional travel & lifestyle photographer, his work can be seen across National Geographic, The Platform, Outlook Traveller etc. The brand had the opportunity to work with him, who incredibly capture their brand vision through his phone & camera lens from the interiors of Assam.
Founder Ishita Das was honoured to be one of the speakers at ‘National Trade Conclave: Taking Khadi: Local to global’ at IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) & FICCI initiative with collaboration with IAMKhadi in 2018. The same year she was also been awarded as an ‘Exceptional Women of Excellence’ by Women Economic Forum in Chennai.
Current Scenario amidst the current pandemic situation
After years of constant hard work & lot of challenges into it, The Silk Concept was finally ready to launch its main business; a clothing line in the month of March 2020 with an E-commerce website but due to the current pandemic situation that made it difficult for them to launch fully. With time The Silk Concept was positive that they will be able to slowly launch their product by approaching a different strategy to make it effective if they change their social business model & consider what is needed in this need of hour. They are hoping that these strategies would indeed support them in the next coming months & years.
Just a few days back a global renowned magazine ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ India had recognized The Silk Concept label in Spotlight 50 along with brands like Anita Dongre, Rahul Mishra, Shivan & Narresh, Masaba, Raw mango, Kanika Goyal, Rajesh Pratap Singh to name a few. Due to the ongoing Pandemic Harper Bazaar came up with their ‘Bazaar Runway Project’, which is a digital initiative showcasing of the latest designer collections. This would highlight the best local design talent that could use their support during these unpredictable times. This would ultimately become their online directory for Indian fashion. The Silk Concept is in the 19th spot on that list & is the only brand that is rooted from North-East India.
The Silk Concept latest collection Essence 2020 is seasonless, gender fluid wardrobe that celebrates cruelty-free, homegrown silk and the Assamese tea culture that comes together and is inspired by the valleys of Assam, Northeast India.
The label is based out of New Delhi & fabric production is hand-woven by the artisans with love in Assam. Message from The Silk Concept: It’s important to note that we do not sell just our piece. We are a storytelling brand that functions on a value-driven social model. We understand our people & the planet. We hope to bring identity to those people that work in making our culture proud.