Sanjay Garg’s first runway show
The designer on his fashion week debut
He may have been strongly opposed to fashion weeks in the past, but when designer and founder of Raw Mango, Sanjay Garg, had his first runway show at Lakmé Fashion Week, there was no hint of hesitation. On what made him change his mind, the designer says, “the runway show was for [my] new eponymous label, and not for Raw Mango”.
Garg’s stitched line had textiles as its main focus, and was inspired simply by a woman he saw in Rajasthan, who wore a lehenga in the most effortless way as she went about her day-to-day chores. The line featured simple dresses, lehengas and saris. “[The] handloom chapter was missing [in fashion] until three years ago,” he points out. “After the agricultural industry, we are the weavers of the world.”
We went backstage and chatted with the designer to find out what makes him tick.
ELLE: You launched Raw Mango five years ago and said you don’t want to be part of mainstream, commercial shows. What motivated you to do this?
Sanjay Garg: I still believe in what I said; Raw Mango is not here yet. We now have two separate brands – Sanjay Garg and Raw Mango. And I still don’t think what I do with my textiles can change according to the season or fashion trends. I don’t want to make the effort to make saris trendy. When we launched, we were studying the business, focusing on keeping it very organic, and learning along the way. In India, there is a big handloom industry. I always thought it could be developed in two ways – with completely handwoven saris and also by growing the business in terms of product diversification by using just the fabrics in the context of making garments. A sari doesn’t need that many stitches, but I wanted to create another space within the industry that can cater to a part of the world that doesn’t wear saris but can enjoy wearing handlooms in a more vast way.
ELLE: You’ve shown a really good collection. Every bride will want to wear it. But the colour most often associated with a wedding, red, is missing. What was the inspiration behind your colour palette?
SG: This is the first show, so I had to edit and choose certain colours. I’m not going away, there’s still time, there are more seasons and there will be more collections. I’ll definitely use red there.
ELLE: Your saris looked glamorous and bejewelled, minus any kind of surface embellishment or ornamentation. What was the reason behind that?
SG: In India, we have many kinds of skill sets in the craft industry – a variety of dyeing techniques, weaves and embroideries. It would be very healthy to balance all of them. I’m not saying surface texture is right or wrong; it’s like no one has addressed the handloom issue and I’m good at, it so let me handle that. If another designer is good at surface texture, they should handle that. Let’s not say that in India, we only have surface ornamentation, because that’s not true.
Click through to see exclusive backstage images from Garg's show.