Vaishali Verma: Fashion Across Borders

Three people wearing headscarves and sunglasses

India is a very colourful country with a rich heritage of kings and queens, spices, art, handlooms, and varied traditions in each state. The culture is so deeply rooted that people often don’t realise this, but it’s a part of who they are and reflects in their creative process. Everyone has their take on Indian culture and how to project it in a different form, this is what makes them unique – a piece of heritage and self-creativity.

The IUKCI at 75 project had people coming together from across borders with different creative practices, working with each other in a dynamic environment. It was special, as it is the engaging stories told in so many forms, sharing lives, creative ideas and how they are intertwined with their heritage that this project encouraged.

Fashion not only means clothes and runways but also the idea, the art of storytelling, the beauty of remembrance and most importantly a piece of their own. Focusing on all the creative outputs, one thing was prevalent in all, and it was heritage. Many members of the project opened up about their lives being Indian living in a faraway country and the struggles they faced, being stuck in a rut to either follow their culture or the new life they had in front of them. It was immensely inspirational and it takes courage to stand on your ground and stay rooted in who you are and to be able to express yourself.

I feel like expressing my culture through my work just like everyone, as it is a part of me that needs to be communicated and from my perspective there's a freshness to India and UK coming together, respecting the past and building on the future.

My collection ‘A trip to the 60s’ takes inspiration from the mid to late 60s and translates them into textile experimental pieces. The project explores the boundaries of genderless fashion, futurism and psychedelia. Fashion is not an island but a response, to all that the world was going through at that time. It is my expression to bring a light-hearted, colourful joy to those who seek a moment of escape in these trying times. During the late 60s, Indian clothing was all in rage, all the colours, patterns, Nehru jackets, kurtas and meditation centres attracted a lot of tourism to the country. It all happened because there were a lot of political wars being fought in the other countries and India provided escapism for peace.

Just like those times with this project, I give people the freedom to express their unique selves and overcome these trying times of Covid. A tinge of colour to gloomy times, a genderless fashion and reimagining textiles in fashion. I use various surface manipulation techniques to achieve the final look, each piece is custom-made and cannot be replicated to celebrate the unique persona.

In the end, I would like to thank my team members, Caroline Raybould and Mala Sinha for their meaningful insights and constant support throughout the short creative outcome -"The Local Manifesto". It has been a pleasure to work with a team of people who understands and provide support to go the extra mile.