Showcasing an eclectic mix of designs based on theatrical themes and patterning clothes on the fluidity of dance moves to create a dynamic look, Kerela based designer Joe Ikareth in an interview speaks of his designs, influences and his current project.
Jasmeet Sahi (JS): When did you launch your first store? What have been your guiding influences?
Joe Ikareth (JI): The ‘Joe Ikareth’ store in Fort Kochi, Kerala was opened in Nov. 2006. I studied design at the ‘National Institute of Fashion Technology ‘where I was rewarded for the ‘Best Design Collection’ in 1996. I have created costumes for various contemporary dance performances and have designed collections for ‘Style Guru’ Suneet Varma for three years. My designs can be distinguished by the sobriety of their cuts, structure, the purity of lines and also by the fantasy in details of embroideries and by the traditional wood print techniques that run along in the designs. The silhouettes are linked to the present time, mixing elegance and ease in movement. Each piece is meticulously hand finished.
JS: Where all have you showcased your collections?
JI: I have sold my collections in Paris and Bretagne in France, ‘Proud’ in Fukuoka, Japan and in India at ‘Grasshopper’- Bengaluru, ‘Sosas’- Goa, ‘Zoya’- Mumbai.
JS: What are the primary fabrics that you work with? Do they depict the local flavour or are you experimenting with new fabrics?
JI: All pieces are one of a limited series using mainly natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen and their blends. At the store we showcase our classic range made of traditional Kerala off-white handloom fabric.
JS: What kind of clientele does your label cater to?
JI: We target women of the age group 20 - 55 yrs coming to the store. We have a lot of occidental clientele, as our lines and form appeal to them. We also offer menswear collection which attracts men of the age 25 -50 yrs.
JS: ‘Concept Fashion’ is slowly picking up pace in India. What are your views on it?
JI: The experience of designing clothes for various dance companies led me in innovative design directions, including working with Circus Theater. This led me to conceptual fashion - using installation, dance and videos to represent an environment for my collections, where the initial designs may or may not be wearable but then I have to take the idea forward with the clothes retailed.
JS: What are your plans for the future?
JI: Design is not limited to just clothes and I am looking beyond cuts. I have initiated a project with a few designers: ‘Transform’- This collaborative project involves recycling - updating and reinventing pieces and transforming them into new products that belie the former identity of the original, resulting in a unique work of wearable art. The process begins with unsold garments from each designer's previous collections being added to a common pool, and then randomly redistributed among the designers for ‘transformation’. What makes the work in 'Transform' unique is the open working process between the participants as well as the conscious reworking and reinterpreting of both form and authorship of the originals. Through this collaboration, the outcome is as much a set of garments or objects as a series of methods for exchange and dialogue between the designers. The hope is that this interface can act as a pool of resources and trigger further inspirational collaborations as well as frame a complementary work mode for fashion. Transform is in the second year of running.