"Our ancestors have been known for passing down, upcycling or recycling beautifully woven or embroidered garments or tapestry," says FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week's GenNext designer Shriya Khanna, who hopes to push fashion into a far more experimental space.
Coimbatore's Shriya Khanna was in school when she read about fashion designer Naeem Khan dressing First Lady Michelle Obama. She found it so inspiring that she too decided to become a designer.
"It still amuses and intrigues me to think how reading about it led me to take up designing as a career," she says.
After graduating from NIFT, Chennai, Shriya studied design at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.
The first person in her family to become a fashion designer, she would often tag along with friends and family as their personal shopper.
"It always made me happy to watch them feel good in an ensemble I had put together."
She liked the feeling so much that it strengthened her desire to design professionally. She now wanted to train in fashion designing so that she 'could have some kind of contribution in how good the wearer feels about themselves in a piece created by her'.
The first breakthrough came this week, when she was chosen to present at the FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week.
"It is the most prestigious platform for young designers in the country. I couldn't have asked for a better way to present my first collection. I feel utterly grateful and lucky that I had the INIFD Presents GenNext platform at FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week as my launch pad."
In order to reach here, Shriya had to jump over several hurdles.
"Almost everything was a challenge because of the pandemic," she says. "I had to make my first collection from home in Coimbatore. I had one tailor and one embroiderer and could not physically visit stores to source fabrics.
"At every stage on this journey, it was perseverance and persistence that helped me achieve both the small and big wins."
Shriya believes that sustainability will once again thrive in India if people go back to using authentic, high-quality raw materials.
"Sustainability is something that has been an integral part of the Indian household. Our ancestors have been known for passing down, upcycling or recycling beautifully woven or embroidered garments or tapestry."
There is one thing she would like to see evolve in Indian fashion.
"The global fashion scene is witnessing a lot of growth and change.
"It is becoming more inclusive and accepting in terms of size, colour, gender and age.
"I'd like to see these biases and differences dissolve. I want to be a part of a world where they are completely nonexistent."
It's hard for Shriya to pick one designer whose work amazes her as there are many designers she looks up to.
"What excites me about each one is the different intricacies and fortes that they incorporate in their design practices."
The collection she presented at the FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week was driven by texture and inspired by Peter Collingwood's woven textile pieces.
"I love how delicate, graphical, monochromatic and multilayered his pieces are. I have tried to interpret the same in my garments in the form of surface texture," she says.