Shweta Kapur’s ‘Pause (and Reflect)’: Rethinking Fashion’s Fast Pace


In the bustling world of fashion, where trends change with the blink of an eye and innovation is incessant, there emerges a moment of contemplation, a pause amidst the frenzy. ‘Pause (and Reflect)’ is not merely an exhibition; it’s an introspective journey curated by Shweta Kapur, the visionary founder of 431-88. As I sat down with Shweta, her passion for shifting paradigms within the fashion industry was palpable. 


“Pause (and Reflect)” wasn’t just a project; it was a personal quest for renewal and reevaluation. It stemmed from a desire to embrace mindfulness amidst the relentless pursuit of novelty. Shweta’s contemplation of her brand’s trajectory led to the realisation that sustainability begins with utilising existing resources to their fullest potential—a principle echoed throughout the exhibition. In a candid conversation with ELLE, she shares the inspiration, challenges, and profound message behind this transformative showcase.


ELLE: What inspired the concept of ‘Pause (and Reflect)’ and how does it challenge the conventional pace of the fashion industry?

Shweta Kapur (SK): ‘Pause (and Reflect)’ was honestly a very personal project. At that point in time, I wanted to draw a blank slate and see things with a fresh perspective. I had various looming questions: Where should I go next? Where should the brand go next? And what are we really doing very consciously, internally as a company? We felt like everyone’s constantly asking for new things without even looking at the current collection. I believe if you are talking about being a sustainable industry then it starts from using what you have to its maximum potential and then go on to the next thing. So that was the idea behind pause, where we wanted to hit pause and take stock of what’s going on. 

Bonsai Nursery

ELLE: How did you decide on the specific sections within the exhibit, such as The Hallway, The Bonsai Nursery, and What Kind of Water Are You? What significance do they hold in conveying the message of the showcase?

SK: Everything was designed around this space. We didn’t want to uproot anything. We didn’t want to move things around. So we had the bonsai space. It was this beautiful nursery of just bonsais. We also wanted to push people to reflect on themselves. We put four water bodies and we just asked a very simple question which was “What kind of water are you?” This was our way of asking, “Who am I?” 

ELLE: With ‘Pause (and Reflect)’, you chose to showcase previous creations instead of releasing a new collection. What motivated this decision, and what do you hope the audience gained from experiencing your past work in this context?

SK: We wanted to bring attention to the fact that 431-88 does timeless pieces and stuff that lasts through and through. You buy something now you can also use it six years or ten years down the line. So we just wanted to highlight that fact.


ELLE: In a society driven by productivity and constant innovation, how do you see the importance of pausing creative endeavours, as advocated by ‘Pause (and Reflect)’?

SK: I feel what we’re doing is we’re just blindly running helter skelter, we have no idea which direction we’re going in. So you need to sometimes just stop and wonder, “Am I on the right path? Did I miss it? Do I need to go left or right?” Whatever you need to do, just stop, and go check on those things.

ELLE: How do you perceive the relationship between fashion and art, and how does ‘Pause (and Reflect)’ blur the lines between the two disciplines?

SK: Aren’t they the same? Art is expression and fashion is expression. Fashion is the first way you really communicate who you are. If you’re feeling a certain way in the morning, you’re dressed that way. I feel like fashion is an expression of yourself and so is art in that aspect. But at the end of the day, it’s the same thing like cooking is art for example, right? So everything that you do with your heart and soul is art.

ELLE: Could you share some insights into the creative process behind the exhibit, from conceptualisation to execution?

SK: So, I reached out to Neil and Doyel because I’ve been wanting to work with them for a very long time. I just didn’t have the right project. I used to joke with them that I’m the pause and you are my reflect because throughout the process they used to ask me so many questions about the why behind everything that we did. Artistically, it kind of helped me see it from an art point of view and less from a fashion point of view. It was fun. A lot of fun. A lot of stress. But yeah.

(l-r) Neil Ghose Balser, Shweta Kapur, Doyel Joshi

ELLE: What challenges did you encounter while curating ‘Pause (and Reflect)’, and how did you overcome them?

SK: I think the biggest challenge we faced as a team was time. Everything was done within a month. It was also very hot, I think about 35-36 degrees. The exhibit was in a nursery which was open on top so we were also worried about the monkeys in the area. But we got really lucky because everything worked out as intended. 

ELLE: How does ‘Pause (and Reflect)’ align with the ethos of 431-88 and your design philosophy?

SK: As a company, we are trying to work very consciously. We want to work with a purpose. We have a goal and a vision. Fashion is the only language I know so this was the only way I could talk about consciousness. 

ELLE: What message do you hope the audience takes away from experiencing ‘Pause (and Reflect)’?

SK: The only message I wanted the audience to take away was to pause and start thinking about who they are.

- Fashion Writer

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