Interview With Upcycling Challenge Designer Aloke Singh of Micronesium (Kolkata)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

I have always been intrigued by various subcultures and the way people dress, their style and their look. From a very young age I was introduced to various creative skills in terms of embroidery, weaving, painting, stitching and theatre which acted as a catalyst for me to take up Fashion Design as a career.

I know you trained at London College of Fashion, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design and National Institute of Fashion Technology. Talk about the highs and lows of studying fashion design. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I was a rebellious design student who wanted to experiment against the set trends, styles or norms of the fashion industry, I did this through pushing the boundaries of design, exploring and investigating through tactile and visual techniques and processes, which gave me a creative high. I always found it easy to adapt to different design perspectives, teaching methodologies, design cultures and presentations throughout the world. 

The biggest challenge for me has always been the need to constantly re-invent my design ideations when confronted with the ever changing design projects. I was dedicated enough while studying at LCF and CSM to become a more adventurous as well as flexible which gave me a more global perspective in my design evolution in Fashion when I returned to India.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As a designer and a creative enthusiast, I am always seeking inspiration from various aspects of nature and human culture, nature through its organic forms both fluid and structured, to come up with new design stories each time. The Aesthetics of my collections lies within the intricate and subtle detailing and visual references to the overall story. I’m intrigued by what makes people tick, what makes a good design in the eyes of the consumer and try to balance this with my own creative tendencies. My design ethos is very strongly linked to experimental individuals themselves who are; well travelled, appreciates different cultures, and are very spiritually and philosophically rich.

Our apparel brand MICRONESIUM speaks of a modern design language through fashion; fusing contemporary style innovation with sustainability and ethics. As a sustainable apparel Label we do not believe in Trends or Seasons. We work on different stories each time with various inspirations embedding sustainable methodologies throughout. We also do take individual customised work for selected patrons who share the same ethos and philosophy as us in terms of green and conscious clothing as well as our aesthetics.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA up cycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I am equally excited to be a part of the EFWA Up cycling Challenge for such a prestigious fashion week in Australia. It’s indeed a big platform to showcase our label – MICRONESIUM to a global audience and press. For a New Brand like us, it will give us a major boost in terms of promotion and visibility on a global platform.

I began using up-cycling for my garment designs for a personal commission for a celebrity client, it was a great first experience. We created fabulous up-cycled and reversible jackets out of a Cashmere moth eaten shawls with block prints and hand embroidery used for a textural tactile quality. I also did my first capsule collection – for a concept store in Kolkata by using export waste fabrics and trims. The entire collection was made with thrown away fabrics like chiffon, cotton and rayon which if not up-cycled would have been dumped in land fill creating more pollution. From there on it became an integral part of my work. I travelled extensively sourcing these fabrics throughout India and came up with a design collection fusing contemporary modern design silhouettes with layering and pleating techniques for a more global appeal. The collection was an instant success and was a sold out in the first week of its launch.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My approach to the runway look for this international show is inspired by today’s every increasingly disjointed societies and its distressed outlook faced by many ordinary people across the globe. I have taken inspiration from the work of German Visual Artiste Annegret Soltau’s to create the look of the design piece I will be showcasing. The Audience or the Viewer can expect a dramatic and disruptive Silhouette using old shirts where I will add intricate detailing in terms of pattern, style, stitched over embroidery and silhouette to bring out the thematic experiential mood of the collection.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

The ethos of our label MICRONESIUM is to sustain, not destroy, we do this through positive action aesthetically deriving inspiration from nature, and the beauty of human craftsmanship. Ethics and sustainability form the core ethos of the brand. Each garment is painstakingly created by hand from exquisite woven organic fabrics and up-cycled old garments and off-cuts. We hand source our organic textiles ourselves from across India and only select organic fabrics that are dyed with natural dyes, some by award winning dyers certified by international bodies. Our goal is to eliminate chemical colours from our collections, apart from those already found in old textiles and garments. 

Our apparel speaks of a post millennia design language, fusing contemporary style innovation with sustainability and ethics. Each collection is conceptually challenging, creating contemporary design pieces which stand alone as immaculately constructed garments, endorsing hand craftsmanship with modern techniques, leaving a profound impact on one’s creative perception.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

After EFWA I will be focussing on creating a sustainable design capsule collection which we would like to be showcased in Europe. I am also developing a collection using non conventional fibres like bamboo, soy and banana and researching on other sustainable, recyclable and renewable fibres too. Our Label MICRONESIUM is also invited to showcase at the prestigious Ethical Fashion Show, Berlin in January 2018.

My long term dream is to establish our Sustainable label MICRONESIUM as a Fashion and Lifestyle Brand on a global scale and have an opportunity to collaborate with various artistes and individuals on different creative projects, and to highlight the craftspeople that actually spend their lives creating the clothes the world wears. Part of this would be to have the opportunity to direct a documentary on fashion and its worldwide socio-economic impact on lives of millions of people across the globe.

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