'Designers are not artists'

'Designers are not artists'

Ankit Kajla is on cloud nine and deservedly so. The student of NIFT Bangalore battled many odds to emerge one of the winners in the finals of Max Design Awards 2016-17. The budding designer had to work his way through financial hurdles and social stigma to emerge as one of the best talents in the country’s fashion and design ecosystem. Rajitha Menon talks to Ankit about his journey so far.

Tell us a bit about yourself
Born in a not so well-off family, I grew up in a rural setting and didn’t even know what the word fashion was. However I was always interested in crafts and other hands-on activities.

My uncle was a carpenter and I used to observe him with fascination. I didn’t have any proper guidance but I took a leap of faith and started exploring my interest, giving up my IIT dreams in the process.

Were your parents okay with your decision?
My parents are not that educated but they are very wise. They supported me fully even though people used to mock them, saying that they wanted to make their son a tailor. But my father asked me not to listen to any of them and said ‘I want you to prove them wrong’. That is something for which I am striving even today.

Where all have you showcased our creations?
I was one of the representatives from India at the Indo-Sweden cultural festival ‘Namaste Stockholm’. Then I was also adjudged the all India winner at a competition conducted by the Australian company Woolmark. Apart from that, I have participated in many college level shows.

Where do you get inspiration from?
I don’t follow trends; I feel it is akin to setting yourself into others’ brackets. Trends work well for the retail part but not for an individual. I observe people on the street and their casual styles. And I do this every minute; designing has become a part of my life so I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

What do you keep in mind while designing an outfit?
I feel that every fabric has its own character and this should be brought out in the outfit. There should be an emotional connect between the person and his garment.

Which is your favourite fabric to work with?
Khadi. It is a big thing right now and suits my garments as I mostly work on menswear. There is a big market for Khadi and I am focussing on breaking the traditional image it has that is associated solely with ‘kurtas’ and ‘pyjamas’. It can be used to create formals or couture wear just as easily.

What sets you apart from your peers?
I feel it is my thinking which is in terms of sellability and wearability. We need to sell our garments at the end of the day and for that, they have to be something which people can sport outside the runway. Designers are not artists — this is something we all need to remember.

Future plans?
I want to work with Rajesh Pratap Singh though I am not sure how possible that is. Or I will work in retail. I have to be practical; there are financial difficulties to be sorted out before I start something on my own.

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