Editor's Pick, Education
Fashion designing: More than what meets the eye
Featuring Lonenu Savi in an exclusive interview with Eastern Mirror, the designer shares her experience and tips for those aspiring to study fashion designing as a course
DIMAPUR — Lonenu Savi’s fascination with fashion began at a young age. With early access to the internet, she was exposed to a world of clothing and styles beyond her hometown, which presented a challenge for her mother while shopping and eventually shaped her career decisions.
The unavailability of internet-specific outfits in the market prompted the young girl to sew her own clothes while she was still in the 11th grade. However, that wasn’t the first time she had sewn something; she used to craft garments for her Barbie dolls using her mother’s old, hand-operated sewing machine. The thrill of stitching the first dress for her doll when she was nine years old continued to inspire her and made her believe in her abilities.
At 11, she discovered that fashion design could be a career after visiting the website of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), which sparked her aspiration. After matriculation, she was made to pursue science with an eye on becoming a doctor, but she found herself sewing instead of studying during exams. She said it took her three years to persuade her parents to allow her to pursue her desire and create art through clothing. There was no looking back for the young lady after receiving her parents’ approval.
Having completed a diploma course in Fashion Designing and Management from NIFT, Kolkata, and a Bachelor in Fashion Design (BDes) from NIFT, New Delhi, Savi currently works with experimental fashion brand Project Parable as the Creative Head.
In an exclusive interview with Eastern Mirror, the designer shared her experience and tips for those aspiring to study fashion designing as a course.
Can you share us the key skills essential for pursuing a successful study in fashion design?
Key skills for success in fashion design studies include creativity, illustration skills, an understanding of textiles, and attention to detail, trend awareness, and effective communication to convey your design concepts.
Additionally, adaptability and a strong work ethic are valuable traits in the dynamic field of fashion.
For prospective students interested in joining NIFT, what insights can you share about the courses from your experience as an alumnus?
The National Institute of Fashion Technology offers various courses in Fashion and Design some of which are Fashion Design, Accessory Design, Leather Design, Knitwear Design, Textile Design, Fashion Communication and Fashion Technology.
As you choose the department, reflect on your interests, strengths, and career goals. Choose a specialization that aligns with your passion and career goals. Consider what aspects of the fashion industry appeal to you the most. Thanks to social media one can always connect with alumni who have pursued the courses you are interested in. They can provide valuable insights into their experiences, the challenges they faced, and how the program prepared them for the industry.
Sketching on the other hand is a fundamental skill in the field of fashion design, and it plays a significant role in the success of the program. It helps you in design communication, idea development, and visualization skills. And because we are either working with clients or other creative individuals it is basically the bridge for visual communication.
What tips can you share with aspirants while preparing for the GAT and CAT entrance exam?
General Ability Test (GAT) often includes a section on current affairs, general knowledge, quantitative ability, communication ability and logical ability. One can also expect questions about the film industry and other entertainment news, so keeping yourself informed about the current political and entertainment events can help you excel in this section. Having an eye for good aesthetics can put you at an advantage in your Creative Ability Test (CAT), questions related to lines shape and colours can be expected.
Shortlisted candidates for bachelors program will be required to sit for a situational test where the candidate’s skills for handling materials will be evaluated. So, being crafty can put one into advantage. For reference, during my situation test I was given a set of materials such as papers, straws, cotton, rubber bands, glues, scissors, colours and was asked to create an accessory inspired by the sea-life. So, I made a 3D mini rectangular size paper bag with handles and strips hanging from the bottom of the bag with jelly fish as my inspiration.
How does the NIFT placement process work, especially in relation to student rankings?
Job placement at NIFT is 100% guaranteed. Once the students graduate the institute provides pre-placement offers which is considered as a job offer. These may be made on the basis of internships/ training/ projects undertaken by the students in the said company.
After which on-campus placements are organised where renowned companies are invited to the campus for recruitments. Upon completion of campus placements, the institute continues to facilitate job opportunities to its graduates through off campus drive initiated by the student’s mentors and faculties making sure that all graduates are employed at the best companies. When the students perform well, he/she ranks better, so the work done throughout the years is evaluated during the placement interview, therefore it is important for a student to continuously give their best.
How can a fashion student create a standout portfolio, and why is it crucial?
A standout fashion portfolio should showcase a diverse range of your work, highlight your unique style, and include a mix of sketches, designs, and finished pieces. It is crucial as it serves as a visual resume, demonstrating your skills, creativity, and ability to translate concepts into tangible designs. A compelling portfolio can set you apart in a competitive industry, attracting attention from potential employers or collaborators.
How important is networking for internships, collaborations, and events while at NIFT?
Networking is crucial for students at NIFT as it opens doors to internships, collaborations, and participation in industry events. It enhances visibility, provides insights into industry trends, and can lead to valuable opportunities. Attending events, seminars, and networking sessions organized by NIFT or industry partners fosters relationships that can be instrumental in securing internships, forming collaborations, and gaining exposure in the dynamic fashion industry.
NIFT always brings something important on the table and that is competitions collaborating with renowned brands so it is very important that one does not miss the opportunity to participate in it even if you are not confident about winning one can always add that competition project in their portfolio.
Beyond the surface of fashion trends, could you provide insights into the depth of fashion design studies, free from the influence of online narratives?
Firstly, it is not all glitz and glam. We NIFTians jokingly call it a scam and laugh about it. While we assume that all we have to do is attend class and look pretty, it is actually a very laborious field but knowing how challenging the fashion industry is, they definitely prepare us well for it, so if you are really passionate about this field you will enjoy the workload.
Secondly, time management is key, you will be surprised how time flies with just two subjects conducted in a 9-5 session and you are left with 200 sketches to be submitted the next day with 4-5 half-done assignments peeping at you from the corner, and that is why lastly, smart work is a better option than hard work at times.
How does the scope of fashion design studies vary for individuals from states like Nagaland compared to others?
The scope of fashion design studies can vary for individuals from states like Nagaland compared to others due to cultural diversity and unique design perspectives. Students from Nagaland can bring distinctive cultural influences and traditional craftsmanship to their designs, offering a fresh and diverse perspective to the fashion industry. However, challenges such as limited exposure and infrastructure may exist. Engaging with these challenges creatively can be an asset, fostering a blend of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary design. Ultimately, individuals from Nagaland and similar regions can contribute to the rich tapestry of the fashion industry by infusing it with their unique cultural elements.
What were the most valuable skills you gained during your time at NIFT?
As a creative, it is important that we know ourselves first and what we can bring to the table and NIFT has definitely framed that for me. We were made to design collections and products on a daily basis with criterias, so working on those over and over again it has definitely trained me to brainstorm better and create multiple designs under one inspiration which, I believe is a skill acquired only through constant practice and is one of the important skill required while designing for our clients as a designer.
How can one balance designing for commercial success and expressing creativity in the fashion industry?
Balancing commercial success and creative expression in the fashion industry requires a strategic approach. Designers can merge artistic vision with market demands by keeping an eye on customer preferences, understanding market trends, and incorporating innovation within practical constraints. As challenging as it can get competing with fast fashion, adapting designs to meet consumer needs while maintaining a unique artistic voice is key.
What diverse career opportunities and scope await students after completing a BDes (Bachelor of Design) course at NIFT?
The career opportunities in the fashion and design industry are diverse. Roles such as fashion designer, textile designer, accessory designer, visual merchandising, styling, fashion communication are a few of what the students can opt for according to their interests. Graduates can work with renowned fashion houses, start their own design ventures, or contribute to the industry through roles in marketing, management, and sustainable fashion initiatives. The scope is broad, encompassing various sectors within the dynamic field of design.
Your workstation right now
A creative mess I believe is how I would define it. But I call my work station ‘God’s little post office’ because all the love I receive from Above, I only wish to share it with the world whichever way possible.
A fictional character that you relate with
Mortricia Addams, with a pinch of Harley Quinn. Basically because I wear a lot of black and pink is my favouritecolour. And I am mostly quiet since I live in my world of fantasy but laughs at the lamest jokes.
Your fashion icon
Alexander McQueen hands down – his technical skills are on a different level, and his love for blending subversion and tradition is so inspiring.