The three days at Design Fabric Festival was brimming over with riveting talks, witty anecdotes and moving advice from some of the leading, most inspired minds in the global creative community. Hopscotching from graphic design, visual communication, fashion design, to photography and architecture, DFF was a melting pot of inspiration, seamlessly bridging together the different disciplines in design and catalyzing a larger discourse about the discipline and charting out its future. Fashion design, photography and the idea of sustainability was at the focal point of some of the talks. Our partner, Istituto Marangoni, helped us shape an enriching conversation around the world of fashion, by bringing together two leading creatives from the industry who joined us at the debut edition of the festival.
Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist shared the defining moments of his creative journey in an intimate conversation with Diana Marian Murek, Director of Education at Istituto Marangoni. The celebrated fashion photographer took the crowd through his early days in the creative world, his flirtation with fashion and the key aspect that made his images stand apart from the rest. His innate love for fashion led him to a life behind the lens, but what helped him make a career out of it was the different perspective that he brought to the table. “I was at the right place, at the right time with the right point of view. I am passionate about fashion. I looked at fashion photography a little differently than others. While everyone was trying to capture the ensemble, the silhouette and the colours, I was looking for a larger narrative. To me it was not just about the clothes, it was about the person wearing them and the story they were trying to tell. I made images almost like a snippet of the personality of the person.”
Talking about his upcoming photo book about India, Scott walked the audience through his recent travels and the many moments from the road that stayed with him. From porters in West Bengal with perfectly tailored shirts, the khaki uniforms of taxi drivers in Mumbai, to a hand-knotted scarf worn by a woman in rural Orissa, he spoke passionately about looking for subjects with an individualistic take on style. “This book is about all the things I came across in India. A lot of the imagery we see of this country is so intrinsically tied to all the cliches. I want to step away from that and build a fresh perspective about what India looks like now.”
Diana Marian Murek, Director of Education at Istituto Marangoni, in conversation with The Sartorialist
“The key to always keep evolving is to look for new challenges," shared Scott. He closed the hour-long conversation with a resounding piece of advice for the crowd. "You have to be absolutely in love with what you’re doing. There is no second way to go about it. Identify what makes you tick and stick with it. When you enjoy what you do, it brings an unshakeable honesty to your work.”
Istituto Marangoni also brought down designer Rahul Mishra, an alumni, to join a panel discussion at DFF, focussed on ethical practises and sustainability in the fashion industry. Joining designer Nimish Shah, design curator and writer Mayank Mansingh Kaul and Aliya Curmally from Fashion Revolution, Rahul Mishra delved into a nuanced conversation regarding transparency and an economically stable and greener future for every artisan contributing to the industry. He spoke about his Ghar Wapsi project, an initiative that helps craftsmen relocate back to their villages, and enables them to move away from the slum-like living conditions in the city they have to adjust to and instead work from the comfort of a clean, spacious workshop set up in their locality.
Every year, scores of artisans from villages across India move to Mumbai looking for employment. Sons follow fathers and nephews follow uncles from their hometowns, and they end up renting rooms in chawls and slums, where even the basic needs of sustenance are hardly ever met. By helping them move back to their villages, Rahul talked about redesigning the entire system. For him, sustainability in India is more to do with social economy, than handloom fabrics and natural fibres. "Sustainability is always going to be a moving target. Nothing is ever going to be sustainable if we don't look at the rural centres. People are migrating at a very fast pace. In cities, craftsmen are living in below par conditions. My focus is on generating employment away from cities, following which rentals and real estate and the whole system will balance themselves out. We need equal spending patterns on the rural and urban fronts."
Always with an eye on the bigger picture, Rahul is a visionary who pays due credit to every part of the production process, streamlining it and making it more ethical in its practises. Talking about the long-term goal, he shared, “The ultimate dream is the day when no one talks about sustainability, because everyone is sustainable.”
Talking about the partnership between Istituto Marangoni and DFF, Director of Education Diana Marian Murek, said, "My perception of India from the first moment was that there is a profound heritage in design in terms of graphic patterns, prints and paintings. This can be seen everywhere and in every aspect of life, not only design or fashion specific related aesthetics. When something, a heritage, is so deeply embedded in the cultural and social tissue of a country, there is no doubt that the contemporary development of design is influenced by it and raises to incredible standards. The level of design and design related arts is amazing in India and being able to learn so much about it through the tool of Design Fabric events (DFF and WIP sessions) has been a real treat. It has been a pleasure to exchange ideas and views with so many young and talented individuals. As a fashion school, to be involved in the enhancement of young talents, is our mission; working with DFF has given us the opportunity to reach a wider audience of highly qualified creatives, other than make our students dive into the creative pool of Indian and International design experts."
Since 1935, Istituto Marangoni has been training the top professionals in fashion and design. In 2017, the institute inaugurated its first educational facility in India: The Mumbai School of Fashion and Design. They aim to train, guide and mentor talents, who will positively influence the best of Indian fashion and design as well as play a vital role on the global market.