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Dhaka Tribune

7 questions with Shaibal Saha

Update : 14 Oct 2015, 03:13 AM

Shaibal Saha, the crafts and fashion designer of Indigo, has been experimenting with different shades of blue for the last four years. He’s also the general secretary of the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh and today he talks about what style means to him.

What inspired you to start off as a designer? I was first inspired by nature. It’s so beautiful that I wanted to capture the essence of it in my work. Secondly, my family really inspired me to become a designer. I grew up watching my mother work on beautiful patterns of embroidery. During puja, she would draw stunning alponas. Then it was the rest of my family – my father, dada, boudi and my wife. They still inspire me to do better every day. But the funny thing is, I never thought I’ll become a designer. When I was young, I wanted to study International Relations (IR) and get into journalism. But later I ended up joining Charukola and pursued fashion designing.

Among so many other colours, what made you choose indigo? I love travelling. I have been to a lot of fairs and events, both home and abroad. And I remember in 1995, there was this one fair that I attended in Germany where I saw a beautiful shop of indigo. And that is when I fell in love with the colour. There are obviously a lot of other colours, types of products and crafts a designer can choose from but I believe we should pursue something we identify ourselves with the most. Indigo is that for me. It’s an array of really sophisticated, rich colours. Over the years, I have studied about indigo, learnt how to produce it and make the best use of it.

Could you give us some details about the tradition of indigo harvesting? Indigo is the organic name of the colour blue. It is natural. We all know denim jeans were dyed in shades of indigo and they were some of the first commodities that focused on the use of the colour. But now, indigo is part of almost everything we see and touch these days. Although the natural component of indigo is better for dyeing but I use a mixture of both natural and chemical colours for my products.

What are some challenges of working with monochromes? There are quite a few, if I’m honest. Since it involves just one colour, it’s important to introduce and maintain certain distinctions in the line to survive in the industry. If you think about it – for how long would someone save a particular blue sari or panjabi in their wardrobe? It becomes monotonous after a while. Which is why, as a designer, it’s important to decide whether to work on 10 different shades of blue for the same kind of products, or 10 different products in the same shade of blue for the customers to contrast them with other wearables. The key here is to find the balance.

What does “style” mean to you? Style and fashion are two completely different aspects to me. Style is something that only adorns the outer beauty of a person. It adds value and flair to the outer layer, that’s it.

Some of your favourite fabrics to work with? I love working with cotton and we do have an amazing range of homegrown cotton fabrics in the country. To be honest, I’m more comfortable working with our own products. I love experimenting on khaadi as well. The FDCB is arranging an event to showcase our homegrown khaadi fabrics in December this year, where 18 Bangladeshi and six Indian designers will participate and we are really excited and looking forward to that.

Which brings us to the next and last question. We know you are the general secretary of the FDCB, please tell us a little about your collaborative experience with the council. My experience with the council has been terrific so far. As you know, we are trying to revive and uplift our culture and traditions so that our future generations can know about their existence, beauty and the importance of preserving them. Otherwise, these traditions will die down even before we know it. The events that the FDCB has organised so far have made all these possible to some extent. The feedback, support and acceptance that we have received from our audience have truly been overwhelming. We have a good feeling about it, hopefully we’ll be moving forward with our upcoming projects successfully.

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