‘It’s a good sign that people are adapting to slow, sustainable fashion’: Designer Suneet Varma

Suneet Varma has been a part of the fashion world for 33 years, and there is no stopping the designer. “I still love what I do, so I find it very exciting,” he says.

Known for his timeless creations, the ace couturier has also dressed many celebrities — from Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone to Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker. But now, for the second time, he is back with his new collection for ‘River Season 2’, which he says is all about the “magical world of fantasy and dramatic storytelling”.

In an exclusive interaction with indianexpress.com, Suneet — who has showcased his exquisite creations all over the world — tells us about his latest collection, designing for an online audience, sustainability, and working with fashion icons. Excerpts:

Can you tell us about your collection ‘50 Shades of Happiness‘?

My collection for Amazon Fashion’s RIVER Season 2, christened ’50 Shades of Happiness’, is inspired by the mysticism and splendor of the Valley of Flowers. The collection of statement saris brings to life a magical world of fantasy and dramatic storytelling. It is defined by a mix of modernity, bright happy colours, high-octane shimmer, abstracts and floral stand-out pieces for special occasions and everyday wear. For me, happiness lies in the joy of achievement, and the very force of creative energy. I am drawn to brightly-coloured children’s books, stories from other long-forgotten times, dramatic storytelling and this is what my couture always celebrates happiness.

How would you describe the experience of selling your creations at affordable prices as part of the initiative?

I am honestly thrilled that I’m able to do a collection that is so affordable. On my own, I have tried it in the past. I’ve never been able to do it because you need a wide reach in terms of manufacturing, production, marketing, promotion, retail, etc. I could have done this with other people as well or by myself, but I think with them it brings another level of professionalism, so it’s been a wonderful experience for me.

The fashion industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, is slowly starting to get back on its feet. What do you feel has the industry’s biggest learning been?

We are talking about sustainability, climate change and slow fashion. I actually took the bull by the horns. Within the two years of the pandemic I did various fashion weeks, so for me it’s very important to not slow down the process and developments and not sit back and wait for the pandemic to end. Therefore, I decided to not let the pandemic beat me. The biggest learning is you must stay upbeat and be able to do things without having to hinder.

You have showcased on both formats, digital as well as physical. Which do you prefer and why?

I have done both digital and physical fashion shows. And I think real fashion shows have a sense of excitement and buildup because we know we have to work several months towards the collection and then it all has to happen in those 15 magical moments; there is an adrenaline that flows through the process.

With digital, the disadvantages are not much, but the advantages last forever. People can watch the shows over and over again. Also, you can shoot the shows in such a way that you get a real sense of the garment in terms of detailing, embroidery, styling, etc. I think both have their own advantages and a lot of the world will now adapt to digital fashion as it is also cheaper to produce.

The pandemic altered the way people perceived fashion with slow and sustainable fashion becoming the buzzwords. What is your take on the same?

I think it’s a good sign that people are adapting slow, sustainable fashion and I’m all for it.

What do you keep in mind when creating for your online audience?

The most important thing is that the product has to look good and be very current in terms of what people want. So, you have to be very on with the trend and very affordable. Within the first collection and now into the second collection we have gotten even further into that aspect.

How challenging is it to deviate from your usual style, yet keep it intact in terms of aesthetics, and create pieces for a new audience?

It is certainly challenging because it has a very different price point and reach, but it is also very exciting as you are reaching a larger audience of a different demographic. It is new learning but also a much bigger business opportunity and that’s what is exciting.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about being a fashion designer?

I don’t feel anything challenging as a fashion designer. I survived 33 years in the business, and I still love what I do so I find it very exciting.

You have dressed many celebrities. With whom have you most enjoyed collaborating and why?

Yes, I have dressed a lot of celebrities — Jenifer Lopez at Met Gala, Mariah Carey, Sarah Jessica Parker, internationally, and in India, I have dressed Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Kangana Ranaut, Hrithik Roshan and many others. I like people who have a sense of style. I think Deepika is a fantastic clothes’ horse, Katrina looks tremendous in my gowns, and of course Jennifer Lopez looks incredible in our clothing.

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