Pashmina meets metallic polymers in a new Amit Aggarwal x Dusala collab
Shawls, stoles and saris showcase the designer’s signature use of metallic yarn and the skill of Kashmir’s artisans
Last Diwali, Amit Aggarwal was gifted a beautiful pashmina shawl by his friend Sugandha Kedia. The fashion designer, who is an avid collector of shawls, “absolutely fell in love with it”. A thank you call soon turned into a conversation about Kedia’s one-year-old brand Dusala Kashmir — which supports over 50 pashmina weavers — and ended with the idea for a collaboration.
“It wasn’t planned, but the mutual love for textiles brought us together,” says Aggarwal from New Delhi. The objective was to enhance the traditional pashmina weave and patterns with his signature metallic polymer yarn. Once the mood board and colour story were set, the design — a mix of earth and jewel tones featuring tile patterns and architecture from Kashmir — was finalised.
Each shawl took about 20 days to make from start to finish, and once the weavers were done, his atelier added the surface embellishments. The final Amit Aggarwal x Dusala collection includes shawls, saris and stoles, “the best garments to showcase pashmina”.
Metal in your shawl
Surprisingly, Kedia did not have to spend too much time convincing the weavers to push their boundaries. “When we explained what Amit wanted to do in terms of design, they were hooked,” says the 33-year-old fashion entrepreneur, who switched careers from TV journalism to start the multi-designer store, One, in Raipur in 2017. “They were also intrigued by the fact that someone who dresses Bollywood and Hollywood stars would be interested in working with them,” she adds.
Aggarwal takes this as a positive sign. “We want this to be a long-standing association… There is a lot of knowledge and information at hand about the craft, but it is also extremely important that you carry it forward and create something that goes beyond what it has been,” he says.
In an earlier interview, he had mentioned that his brand would focus on the “coexistence of the natural and the man-made”, and the first step would be working with existing resources. “Creating on a base fabric that is so inherent to the culture of our country and adding my vision to it, it felt like I was making a shawl for the future,” he shares.
The saris in the collection are also versatile, featuring an elongated pallu made of pashmina that can be wrapped around the body for warmth. “The rest of it is fabric like silk or organza. The saris can also be draped with the pashmina as the bottom pleats,” he explains.
Making this collab even more personal for Aggarwal is the fact that his long-time partner Ankit Chawla shot the campaign pictures. “Winters are when I feel the most romantic,” laughs the designer, adding, “So when I had the chance to work with him towards the end of last year on this, I wanted to tell our story.” It isn’t your typical fashion photography (Chawla specialises in portraits), and the locations where the images were shot across Delhi are integral to their love story.
Capitalising on e-tail
During the pandemic, Aggarwal joined the ranks of Indian designers going digital. Does he have plans for a virtual store, similar to Manish Malhotra’s recently-launched one? “I have already been consulting for couture customers via video calls; I believe this is an adequate way of giving them a personalised experience,” he says. Social media has also helped him reach an international market.
While Aggarwal believes that his futuristic gowns have evolved over the past year — “our festive line has a lot more inferences from Indian art” — he states that they will retain the signature brand look. He is also working on a home décor and accessory line but can’t divulge any details, he adds apologetically. “It is in a very nascent stage, but I feel that the kind of detailing and structuring we do will lend itself very well to these,” he concludes.
Stoles from ₹45,000, saris and bridal shawls from ₹1.69 lakh and ₹1.55 lakh respectively, on dusala.in
“I won’t say I hoard shawls, but I do have very special pieces in my wardrobe that tell a story each,” he says. “For instance, a very fine shibori one I picked up in Japan, and an archival kantha piece from a weaver’s studio in Kolkata. [I also treasure] a chikankari shawl that was gifted to me by a friend’s mum from Lucknow. It features every single traditional stitch in the history of chikan, including ones that are now completely lost.”