Sanchita Ajjampur, the Designer Shaping the Global Fashion Industry

Sanchita Ajjampur, the Designer Shaping the Global Fashion Industry

Sanchita Ajjampur, the Designer Shaping the Global Fashion Industry

Meet the Mumbai-born designer creating waves on the fashion forefront.

Meet the Mumbai-born designer creating waves on the fashion forefront.

Text: Danielle Combs

The art of mixing rich saturated hues and a medley of patterns is a bold craft to take on. It requires skill, workmanship and a relentless eye to conceptualize designs, especially when patterns are at play. Sanchita Ajampur happens to be the Mumbai-born designer who can conceive such wondrous designs filled with depth.

In an exclusive interview with V, Ajampur revealed her passion for experimenting with handloom textiles, harnessing fashion as a culture meant to share and an entirely new perception on craftsmanship. Read below to uncover her answers and her most recent collection.

Describe the first instance you knew you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I follow my instinct… As a young person, I was always fascinated by color and texture. To me, toys appealed by their color and clothes their tactility and weight. My mother’s eclectic personal clothing also was a huge source of inspiration. I used to raid her wardrobe and play “dress up," adorn myself in her embroidered gemstone and gold thread saris, handcrafted Calico kaftans from Egypt, ombre dyed chiffon palazzo pants with Farsi threadwork, chunky hand-knitted Dachstein military sweaters, and wrap up in fine woven Pashmina shawls.

Where were you born and how has that influenced your design point of view?  

I am Italian but of Indian origin and was born in Mumbai. My family moved to Vienna when I was barely three years old.  My nomadic childhood in Europe shaped my love for all things multifarious and exotic. Growing up in Vienna, at the time, the epicentre of the Vienna Secession or Arts and Crafts Movement, shuttling with short stints in Alexandria of Egypt, schooling in the UK, and specializing in arts and design in Paris and Milan, led to my path in fashion.

My Indian roots continue to inspire me. Studying handloom textiles, sustainable and organic methods of dying and printing in India, led to a pastiche of traditional and the contemporary, which intrigue me and, I would say, currently create ambiguous boundaries between what is authentic or what is beauty and what is original, which we can no longer really tell. Fashion can be at its most creative when times are hard.

Did you attend design school? How did your experience at school shape your perspective or allow you to grow? 

I received my BA from Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, Paris and MA in Fashion and Technology at Domus Academy, Milan. Both schools of thought were complemented by valuable internships and hands on experience. Process and product are equally important. The creative process stimulates, allures, is painful, doubts, hesitation, determination and passion. It’s a fascinating journey and full of dreams to a certain extent. Ultimately however, the work has to fulfill other people’s dreams and the products have to work off the runway. Paris led me how to transform these sensations into something innovative, creative and beautiful. Milan uncovered and steered me through technology and engineering; there was dynamic interaction, engagement and exchanging thoughts with architects and industrial designers, which led me into a whole new dimension.

How was your eponymous line conceived? 

In the mid-90s, I started my own experimentation facility in handloom textiles and hand embroidery inspired by travelling around the Indian subcontinent whilst residing in Milan. Later, my passion for textiles and artisanal skills led me to travel extensively across the globe. Interaction with master craftsmen facilitated and nurtured heritage techniques in order for the business to evolve into offering guidance from conception, through to developing products together with and for designers, as well as international European luxury brands. The development facility eventually opened up doors to introduce a production facility including soft tailored knits and woven clothing in collaboration of immensely talented Italian pattern makers. I was shuttling between Europe and India for a while but in the early 2000's eventually started spending more time in India in order to raise my daughters as a single mother.

With a positive response from the market in a brief span of time, it encouraged me to invest an increasing effort in my work and I thought it may give me the opportunity to build up this fascinating journey full of dreams into a global brand, while simultaneously continuing to add value to other international luxury brands, which I still provide services for.

I greatly admire the artisan level of craftmanship and vibrant textiles that encompasses each of your collections. What is your design process like when creating a new collection? 

Beauty and the concepts are manifold and ever-changing. It’s up to the individual where she or he looks for it. I think from the feet upwards and shoes are the main protagonist of each collection. A woman’s charm and her feet: shoes, sandals, mules and boots can cover or uncover the foot but needs a a sense of proportion, lightness and the poignant sensation of being caressed. I work in both Italy and India, and once styles are determined, materials and components are selected, after which the colors and embroideries are developed. My collections have a fun aesthetic, celebrating instruments of communication that throw out messages which can also make a noise.

You’ve collaborated and worked with a handful of top tier designers. What were some of your most notable experiences and who do you hope to work with next? 

I feel immensely fortunate to have worked for and collaborated with some of the great designers in the industry, it was an inspiring and humbling process. Initially interning with Romeo Gigli and later designing Callaghan, following a long-term collaboration with Tom Ford during his Gucci tenure, Consuelo Castiglioni at Marni, Veronica and Kean Etro and a 10-year working relationship with Alber Elbaz, are all certainly memorable experiences. I really wouldn’t know who's next.

What are the next steps you would like to achieve with your line? 

The brand ethos stems from my personal experience and beliefs, confined to express in a simple banal object, a great complexity about women, aesthetics and current times: Making fashion and using it as a culture to share lifestyles, our origins and our future. Maintaining a holistic approach with ethical and sustainable commitments. Embracing the challenges and understanding that there are so many lessons to learn and unlearn.

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