Design to me, in my initial years with the brand, was about expressing myself. An outlet to share my roots, inspirations, emotions, interests, obsessions, etc. I enjoyed experimenting with craft and translating my ideas into a pair of shoes. For example – the very first collection I designed for the brand was about me expressing my new life in Britain and at the same time being nostalgic and homesick. It was an attempt to embrace the British grim, grey weather. Inspired by the withering leaves, I infused my obsession for Jali(lattice) walls from Mughal architecture.
With time as I have seasoned as a designer, I’ve realised that designing with the motive to only express myself or reference a theme, can be quite one-dimensional. What I have found fascinating is understanding the purpose of design. Learning and figuring out the women I create these shoes for has been an integral part of my design journey. Being a woman, and designing for a woman is definitely an advantage. It helps me understand some of the considerations that are important to care about during the design process. However, to get a more in-depth understanding, I have been meeting and speaking with women from different backgrounds. It is interesting to learn and understand how each woman’s needs and pain points can differ because of their choice of work, lifestyle, their body type, the social and cultural environments they are part of. Being aware and integrating these factors with my personal inspirations, helps me build a better and more connected brand for our customers.
For my brand to be relevant and have substance, as a designer I would need to question the purpose of my work time and again. There are a few aspects I would like to look into for our next phase of design. One being to understand the different markets and respective cultures in greater detail. In spite of the world being a lot closer due to the internet and globalisation, there will always be number of cultural nuances and differences between communities. And this is an important aspect for us to take into consideration as we market and sell our shoes online to a global audience. The other factors that I am curious to explore are – what does it mean for a brand like us to be ethical and sustainable? Also, how do we challenge the relevance of craft in contrast to new and advanced technologies?
We cannot think about these as layers in isolation to the design process alone, instead we intend to gradually integrate it into how we design our business as well.