Not everyone can afford creations by top fashion designers. So, designers must come up with affordable lines as well, says Manish Malhotra, who has draped the global creme de la creme and is one of the most celebrated names in the Indian fashion world.

Malhotra, who has an eponymous label which he launched 11 years ago, says that for more people to be able to wear and buy creations by designers, it is important to create a line which is “a little more reachable”.

“For more people to be able to buy… And if designers want to expand their business, they must come up with a line which is affordable, which is a little more reachable. That is the future,” Malhotra, who was here to launch his virtual reality (VR) fashion show in collaboration with Etihad Airways, told IANS in an exclusive interview.

The 50-year-old says he too is considering the idea and says that it will happen “soon”.

Talking about VR fashion shows as a platform, Malhotra says that it could “definitely” be “something for the future”.

“VR is for people who are not there at a fashion week or at the show to not only view the show but to feel that they are a part of it. It could be a very good step for a designer or for a fashion house to send it to their esteemed clients and for them to feel that they were a part of it,” Malhotra added.

In this UAE city, it is the abayas — the loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress, worn by women — that caught Malhotra’s fancy here. He said he would like to pursue designing the garment seriously and give it a more innovative twist.

“I would really like to take designing abayas seriously, although I have designed them in the past. I’d like to design them more innovatively. They look beautiful and trendy now.

“They are keeping the culture here intact and yet getting so modern with fashion… That is fascinating. I love it when tradition and culture are intact and respected, and yet there is a new innovation to it,” said Malhotra, who has designed ensembles for celebrities like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Reese Witherspoon.

With Banarasi weaves and Chanderi being fabrics highly promoted by the fashion industry in India, Malhotra says that he would like to promote quality cotton more with the summer season approaching.

“I would like to promote quality woven cotton, and try to make them more luxurious and softer. We are approaching summer and we would really like to work on it,” he said.

Although Banarasi weaves have been heavily promoted in numerous fashion shows across India, there have been reports recently that Banarasi weavers have been commiting suicide, going jobless due to shortage of work — a complete contrast to what is being portrayed.

“This goes to show the disparity between what is shown and what is there. There are a lot of designers who make a lot of noise about Banarasi weaves… Something that becomes a fad and doesn’t have depth. I was recently there in December, meeting up the weavers and churning out more work.

“In fact, I am going to Varanasi again now… I think that it is very important to give them a lot more work and get a lot more fabric (from there),” Malhotra said, and urged designers to not just talk about providing work for the weavers, but to act upon their words.

(The writer’s trip to Abu Dhabi was sponsored by Etihad Airways. Kishori Sud can be contacted atkishori.s@ians.in)

By Kishori Sud

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