Wednesday , 17 October 2018
Stylish upcycling of old garments with Planet J

Stylish upcycling of old garments with Planet J

Planet J’s next workshop with fashion designer and 2016 Beryl Nasse Women Entrepreneur awardee, Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney is creating quite a stir. Slated for December 3 the workshop already has entries pouring in. Open to those between 16 and 22, the half-day workshop will be held at Dempo House in Panaji. The workshop aims at giving participants tips on designing and how to upcycle old garments. In a chat with NT KURIOCITY, Ninoshka talks about the workshop, her creations and a career in the industry

Maria Fernandes|NT Kuriocity

Sustainable fabrics have always been Ninoshka Alvares-Delaney’s focus. In this regard she utilises natural fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk which are hand woven and hand dyed in natural dyes such as indigo, mycrobalan, pomegranate, lac, annatto, onion peels, marigold, rose petals, coconut, etc. She believes conservation of life by maintaining the ecological balance is the way to sustainability. “What we take from the earth, we should be able to return to the earth. Fashion is no different. We Indians have culturally been thrifty consumers. As kids, clothes from an elder child would be passed on to the next one or probably to a cousin or relative. Women usually found ways to reuse old sarees by converting them into cushion covers or curtains or quilts. When a fabric or garment really reached the end of its life cycle, it would be used as a rag before being disposed of. But now, times have changed. With fast fashion, over consumerism has seeped into our culture. The media has exposed us to the latest trends and the season’s “must-haves”. E-commerce has further facilitated access to any trend anywhere in the world. The need of the hour is for us to slow down and review our choices. We are living on borrowed time and we should do everything we can to reduce, reuse and recycle. Many of us want to do our part, but we don’t know how. With this workshop, my aim is to inspire people to upcycle clothes and reduce wastage,” she explains.

At the workshop participants will be briefly introduced to the principles and elements of design which will be followed by a draping session and tips on upcycling old garments. There will also be fun activities in which each participant will be asked to upcycle their own garment and come up with a collection. “The workshop is targeted towards an audience who is open to ideas and change, who like to express themselves through fashion and are not afraid to experiment. Upcycling their clothes will not only give participants a sense of individuality, but can also save a lot of money in the long run. Each participant will be a designer who will create a one-of-a-kind design for him or her that will portray his or her personality,” she elaborates.

Ninoshka who started her career as a merchandiser cum designer at an export house in Mumbai where she coined and developed samples for some of the top international brands such as Nordstrom, J C Penny, Next, Rare Vintage, Charms and Lane Bryant among others, is a versatile designer and finds inspiration in her surroundings. “I find inspiration in anything and everything around me. How a fabric drapes on the body may influence my silhouettes. Or I may be inspired by a surface ornamentation technique, or a particular colour palette. My latest collection is called ‘Kawaakari’ and is inspired by the colours that are formed on the surface of a river at dusk. In the world of design there are endless possibilities,” she adds.

For those aspiring for a career as a fashion designer, she is of the opinion that the basic requirements include a keen sense of observation and a good aesthetic sense. “Fashion designing seems like a very glamorous profession from the outside, but there is more to it than what meets the eye. Fashion is a seasonal business. If you don’t keep up with the seasons, you will be left behind. You can’t sell a winter jacket in summer. There are always deadlines to meet and quite a bit of investments in terms of time and money. There is a risk that a particular design may not do well in the market. Every client may not be easy to please. But at the end it’s very gratifying to see your ideas take shape and as a designer that’s what keeps you going.”

Asked which design institutes/colleges she would recommend, she answers, “In India, I would highly recommend National Institute of Design (NID) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). NIFT has a number of centres across India, each centre recommended for a particular area of specialisation. For example, NIFT Delhi is the best centre for Textile Design, NIFT Mumbai for Fashion Design, and so on. Other fashion institutes in India such as Pearl Academy, Delhi; School of Fashion Technology (SOFT), Pune and Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune also offer a strong curriculum and good industry exposure. Good institutes abroad would be Parsons School of Design, New York; Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York; Central Saint Martins, London and London College of Fashion.”

Besides joining a good institute and college, apprenticing with an accomplished designer is equally important believes Ninoshka. “There is much to learn from the experiences of an accomplished designer. I for one have never been an apprentice to any designer. I did, however, work at a fashion house in Mumbai, where I was the head designer. I had to formulate my own methods of working which was fun. But I cannot say I did it without any inspiration. My designs were constantly guided by my employer who herself has a keen eye for detail and knew what she wanted to deliver at her store. I got marketing and merchandising ideas from the in-house merchandising team. I learned a bit of accounts from the accounting team. I also had the opportunity to interact directly with clients which gave me insights into the customer’s psyche. With all the knowledge I gathered in three years, I had enough confidence to start off my own label down the line.”

In an industry jam-packed with talent, skill and ambition, succeeding as a fashion designer is not easy; in fact it is tough. “To be a successful fashion designer, one has to have two things. Firstly, a unique selling point; something that sets you apart from the rest of the competition. And two, a very strong marketing plan,” she says.

Signing off she gives a few tips and says, “Opt for basic styles and then mix and match. Find your own individual style and be comfortable in what you wear.”


(If you are between 16 and 22 years of age and want to apply for the workshop, log on to and fill in the application form. Last date for entries is December 3.)


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