My Favourite Piece: MR. AJAY KUMAR
Why did you choose this collection?
Designing has always been an evolving process of discovery and season after season we infuse a wider net of ideas and thoughts to create an impressionable, artistic collection. These thoughts pertain to modern-day issues which we talk about through our collections with a dose of positivity.
Inspired by the concept of ‘Prana’ (life-giver) from Rig Veda (ancient Indian text), our summer 2019 collection titled ‘Aquesthetic’ talks about saving water and the aquatic life it nurtures. This ensemble is an engineered print style designed to consume less fabric and digitally printed to consumer less water, in turn, truly bringing out the beauty of this collection in its true sense. The shawl is digitally printed onto khadi (handspun and handwoven) Merino wool fabric and the shoes are handmade in genuine leather and gold painted to capture the spirit of Indian handcrafted luxury.
We have chosen this ensemble as it is a representation of the journey of our brand, our evolving thoughts of fusing stories with a purpose. In this journey, we also ensure to take care of our environment, our resources, be ethical and support local craft. To summarise, less wastage, less use, more savings for tomorrow—the underpinning philosophy of the brand.
A single ensemble encompasses so many core values that a brand believes in and therein lies the beauty.
What makes it stand out amongst the rest of your work?
Channelling a new wave of sartorial excellence through print-on-print look, the basic shirt and trouser look is completely transformed into something that is red carpet worthy. The concept beautifully lends to our vision of art meets culture meets fashion, fusing class and flamboyance in nautical-aquatic inspired printed ensembles, adding royal Indian luxury touch.
Light layering in Khadi printed shawls in the key highlight narrating the story in a very modern way, creating a fine balance between what a traditional Indian and a new age millennial would wear.
Explain the origins of the designs. What were your initial inspirations?
Like I have mentioned earlier, our seasonal themes are reflective of what’s going on in and around us. Our previous season’s theme Bhu: Svah—arising from within talked in length about collective consciousness towards our jungle, our environment and at the same time graphically depicting our Indian flora and fauna—godly elephants, royal Bengal tigers, indigenous peacocks and tropical flowers.
This season, our Aquesthetic collection explores the aesthetics of the aquatic body through narrative prints and channels a puritive, positive blue energy in our minds. Water is scarce everywhere and we need to save water but rather than depicting the negative side of any story—we wish to show the positivity in each story to inspire people. Aquesthetic aims to nurture that positive feeling of saving our seed of genesis—water and the life that it nurtures.
Why did you choose the specific fabrics, patterns, colors?
Graphically, we have a strong visual print language and you know a Mr. Ajay Kumar print when you see it. Aquesthetic has a very nautical touch to it, and we added a refreshing palette of Indian brights—turmeric yellows, turquoise, coral red and emerald green to make it more flamboyant and vibrant. Indians are known for their colours.
As a brand, we only use natural and handmade fabrics. Reasserting the power and purity of water, handloom lightweight cottons, handloom silk linens, khadi wools and luxury cottons are smoothly blended with aquatic patterns of fishes, starfish, paradise birds, flora and fauna and nautical elements like stripes, chains, ropes and anchors to create a fashion fantasy.
The Anchor Shirt has a print that is basically engineered to fit the body of the wearer to avoid fabric wastage. We consume 95% of our fabrics. Even, the 5% wastage is used for pocketing and other panels. The trousers are engineered printed too to minimise wastage.
The Printed Khadi Woollen shawl is our signature piece from this collection made from 100% Merino wool Khadi fabric. Khadi is our very own Indian handspun and handwoven fabric and it represents the connection to India's swadeshi (independence) movement ,popularised by Mahatma Gandhi. Today, Khadi has been elevated from being a symbolic fabric to a luxurious fabric and young India associates with it due to the MakeinIndia vision. Additionally, the fall and feel of the fabric is entirely different and it comforts the wearer. Our Khadi Woollen trench coats and digital printed shawls are statement pieces in our collection and we seek the imperfections in the fabric weaves to add a beautiful texture on the prints.
What is the story of this collection and how does it work to tell your overall story?
The Mr. Ajay Kumar brand is an extension of my flamboyant yet traditionally rooted personality. My fascination for ornate prints, bold eye-catching patterns, Indian stories and aesthetics has been the conceptual underpinning for the brand and its seasonal themes. There is beauty in everything we see, positivity in negativity, harmony in disharmony, thus, empowering us to think beautifully. Our work is constantly evolving weaving in social issues and positive messages with seasonal narrative prints and aspiring audiences to express the flamboyance of the India that resides in them.
The vibrancy of this ensemble along with its styling form a connect with rest of the pieces in the collection with printed silk scarves, royal looking Khadi woollen printed shawl, theme-based brooches and handcrafted leather shoes that elevates the entire look.
Fashion has the power to catalyse social change. We believe our narrative prints bring out our cultural values and imbibe positivity in our clients and in turn our clients also become part of our journey in building a responsible fashion brand.