New Delhi, From the repeal of Article 377 that decriminalised same sex relationships, to the abolition of Triple Talaq, this past one year has seen some notable reforms in the country. And with art said to reflect the events of the day, these social reforms are bound to find an expression in fashion. Slife spoke to eminent designer Suneet Varma to understand the other trickle-down effects of these events for his fraternity.
Has the repeal of Article 377 and abolition of Triple Talaq had an impact on fashion?
SV: The most important thing for creativity is freedom. Creativity, whether artistic, intellectual or sexual, is an expression of freedom. Without freedom there cannot be expression. Essentially, freedom is what you need to be a true artist… you can’t be told what to make, what to paint, what to write; there is no happiness in that. When you give people the freedom to express themselves in which ever way they want to, you are allowing them to live their best life.
What of reasonable restrictions then? Is there such a thing?
SV: I believe in reasonable restrictions. I don’t agree with the idea that freedom gives you the right to do what you want, to who you want, and how you want. Certainly not. What I mean by freedom, is the choice to not conform to obsolete doctrines, which the world has evolved from. Like I believe the bill to make capital punishment for child molesters was the best thing. Such abhorring acts cannot and should not go unpunished.
The current mood of the nation is very “nationalistic”. How is it influencing fashion?
SV: Under this government, being a gay man, I am allowed to live the life I chose to live. It has in no way interfered with my life or, as you say, any restrictions on me — whether reasonable or unreasonable. I am free, and I have the freedom of artistic, creative and sexual expression.
Do you think we will see a surge in “tradition inspired” clothing tweaked into modern silhouettes like dhoti dresses, or tulip pyajamas and angarkha style dresses?
SV: I don’t think it’s possible for any government, whosoever is in power, anywhere in the world to erase history. India has thousands of years of history, culture and tradition. Some of the finest art in India is replete with influences from the Mughal period or the British Raj. We can’t just do away with the paisley or cricket. Can we? It is impossible to separate art and tradition in any culture.
Speaking of influence, what do you think of social media influencers?
SV: I think their time is right now. Ten years ago, it was Facebook. When that became commercial, people moved to Instagram, now Instagram has commercial ventures. For mid-size businesses like mine, we are dependent for promotion on social media. It gives us visibility, we get scores of inquiries daily, a lot of which translate into business opportunities.
Does the future of fashion mean a sale in company stake in order to expand?
SV: Yes. And no. It depends. I’m very sure, that I have enough creativity and ambition in me to helm my business for at least another 20 years. I would consider investors and business partners as long as they don’t disturb my creative inputs.
Many people have already expanded their brands to tier II cities, but an entire retail store needs to have enough footfall to support it. So if you’re asking me if I am looking to open 20 stores across the country, no I’m not.