There are very few designers who, with a lot of passion, like to go into the science of their clothing, into what makes the structure of an outfit. While most collections are inspired by travel, or by observation, Aggarwal’s signature has always been inspired by natural forms and the human anatomy, and he’s driven by the engineering of clothing. He’s not your average floral-adaptedpastel-played guy, he’s the one that will melt polymer, enjoying every molecule, and watching a structured outfit come to life. And that’s how, even from afar when you see a piece of clothing, you know it’s an Amit Aggarwal creation. Aggarwal reflects on his journey, the development of his own design language and the empathy he expects to see in consumption of fashion post the ongoing pandemic.

From 2012 to now, we have seen you become a bigger force to reckon with in the fashion world. How have you seen your own design change from the time you started out?

From when I started to where we are right now, the ideology and the selling point has been to move forward Indian craftsmanship, and the language hasn’t changed. In the last eight years oddly, we’ve only tried to adapt the product to suit the understanding and the approachability of the market. Where our material or the idea of form or shape is concerned, 10 years ago it would have been looked at as art, or something that was completely unwearable. But over time, people have started to understand a different aesthetic, and I think that’s where we are right now.

Your design language is unique. Can you explain how you developed your signature aesthetic?

I have always been very inspired by shape and form. I like the combination of sharp edged lines with fluidity, the contrast brings in a very different dimension to clothing. While that’s how it started, it’s also very important for a brand to keep evolving its own language, and the signature of the brand comes from years of continuing to do the same craft. It’s important to stick to your purpose. I have always been very inspired by the technical aspects of clothing, and that has defined what we do as a brand. The evolution of the techniques have made the collections look different but at the same time, also maintained the core aesthetic of the brand.

As a designer, what drives you to handweaving and traditional fabrics in a world of machines?

Honestly, I’m not a textile designer. But I think time, and again, it’s extremely important to revive craftsmanship with the modern language. As a country, we boast of many indigenous techniques that can be implemented to create something modern and radical. We have no dearth of craftmanship or techniques that are probably imperative for the country, which can be given a modern twist and made exciting for a new consumer

Upcycling seems to be the way to go in your new collections, and polymer is an important part of the clothes you make. Why is polymer so essential to you?

There’s a scientific approach to it. I like the idea of something that can be broken down into a molecule and then restructured to create something new every single time. Out of multiple materials, polymer allows us to do that by a large extent. It can be melted by heat, it can be handwoven, it can be stitched on to outfits. A lot of consumers probably don’t know that it’s machine washable, it can be ironed too. For me, the product has to be a good blend of the byproducts of the industrial age that we live in.

R ELAN PRESENTS AMIT AGGARWAL during Lakme Fashion Week Winter / Festive 2019 at St Regis, Mumbai in Mumbai, India on August 19, 2019.
Photo : FS Images / Lakme Fashion Week / IMG Reliance

What was the idea as well as the inspiration behind your menswear capsule?

With the current scenario, the world is talking about blurring boundaries between menswear and womenswear. There’s still a bit of a distinction, but I feel we’re soon headed to a space where a lot of wardrobes will be exchanged between men and women, and it’s an important dialogue. I feel like a lot of elements of womenswear can be implemented in menswear, which would be approached with a lot of structured pieces for men with contemporary and modern detailing. For the last two seasons that we’re doing menswear, I’ve kept it a little more experimental, but going forward, the aesthetic would be more wearable to suit a national audience. We will be doing more menswear in the future.

Menswear in India has been going through its own evolution, whether it’s the colours being used, experimental cuts, or motifs. What is going to work for menswear in India going forward?

If you speak of an Indian consumer, I still feel the aesthetic has to be rooted in quintessential menswear, like a suit, or a shirt, classic silhouettes when it comes to couture. Men do like to keep it a little classic. They will experiment, but don’t like to detach too much. That being said, we’ve also seen a radical shift in the last or two years, where men have tried to get a little more accustomed to their personal taste over trends.

“What was futuristic has now become the present”, you said in an interview recently. In Indian fashion, where do you think we presently are, especially with menswear?

I think with social media and digital presence, men all over the world are able to access everything that people are wearing, and that has helped blur boundaries and change notions about Indian men having to dress up only in traditional outfits. This also makes the evolution process easy, because I remember 10 years ago, you’d have to sit for a year and wait to see what international menswear trends are. I also think a lot of celebrities are experimenting, which also makes a difference and that’s why I feel like the future is here now.

(01)-22-07-19-Amit Aggarwal

Another highlight of your clothes are colours. Should more men wear metallics?

The overall feel of metallics gives you not only an edge of glamour, but also allows a lot of shaping and structuring to your body. A lot of men want to look crisp and sharp, and really well built, and metallic colours give you that edge. But I agree that it’s also not the easiest for everyone to carry, so there are also subtle metallics that you can try

What’s one thing about fashion in India that needs to change?

I think not following a herd mentality would be nice. Post the pandemic, there will be some evolution in the way people dress, because of the fact that we now realise how important it is to live in the moment. If it could be anything, and as long as it resonates with you, it doesn’t have to be a trend for you to wear it.

Do you think that coming out of the pandemic is going to change the way fashion is consumed in the country?

I think there’s going to be a drastic change not only in consuming patterns, but also in production. A lot of brands are going to become more indigenous, and I also feel like there will be a time when we come back to doing things that we used to do as a country before we became more dependent on other countries. In terms of fashion, more classic and simplistic clothing will come back.

Speaking about the lockdown and our fight against coronavirus, you shut your store before the national lockdown was announced. What led to that?

We closed a week before the announcement, even though we had booked a lot of appointments after the launch of our collection. It has just been a few weeks to the fashion week finale. But we had to do it in the interest of our consumers and our staff.