A series of interactions with sound, through books and exhibitions, led designer Sonam Khetan to the inspiration for her next collection. “Each of my collection is inspired by ecology,” says Khetan as she sits down with HELLO! for a chat a day before her debut at Lakmé Fashion Week. An idea that sound is essentially gendered (it’s yin and sight is yang) and discovering a wellness therapy in Japan that utilises sounds in nature intrigued her enough to explore the idea further. “I read that in ecology, silence is defined as the sound of the Earth minus the sound of humans. So the rustling of trees or the noise of water flowing is essentially silence that we need to interact with for our own well being.”
This is how her collection at LFW’s GenNext Designers runway showcase came about. The designer trained in Paris and London and worked with renowned names like designer Rahul Mishra before coming back to India in 2020 to start her own eponymous label. Khetan experiments with different themes and techniques to draw attention to aspects of the environment that usually remain invisible even in plain sight, like her upcoming collection. ‘Listening to the Earth’ is about sound and silence and how we interact with it. Once the designer zeroed in on the concept, it was time to bring her vision to life.
“The process starts with thinking about the forms that I can relate with. Then I see how they can be translated into fabrics and embroidery. This time, I have collaborated with Yoann Ximenes, a french visual artist whose poetic approach is based on the observation of sound phenomena. I’ve also worked with two women collectives, one in Mumbai and one in Kerala. The one in Mumbai recycles flowers from Siddhivinayak and Haji Ali Dargah for natural dyes. I work with them and come up with a mood board for the collection. The women-led artisanal studio in Kerala helped me add new dimensions to the collection. They’re expert in the technique of Japanese shibori, producing the finest and most delicate textures.”
Khetan firmly refuses to call herself a sustainable brand. She claims that the word has become overused and lost its essence. Instead, she likes to call herself a responsible brand. Her design and manufacturing processes are mindful and eco-conscious and her core design philosophy lies in engaging large communities of people to raise awareness about our impact on the environment. “I knew very clearly from Day 1 that I wanted to create something that people could invest in and know that their money was going somewhere that kept wellbeing at the forefront, whether it’s wellbeing of the environment or people.”
Her upcoming collection is also an extension of the philosophy. The deep and thoughtful research behind the concept and highlighting the craftsmanship and artistry of creators from different parts of the world are all testament to that.
Sonam Khetan’s ‘Listening to the Earth’ will debut at the INIFD GenNext Showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week in Delhi.