It is well known that fashion is a multibillion dollar industry. Now, Odisha is slowly developing into a fashion hub with many fashion events being organised here. In fact, several fashion designers from Odisha have showcased their designs at the national and international levels. Importantly, they are promoting talent in the handloom industry on a world platform.
Odisha has huge potential because its fabrics have been creating ripples in the markets of India and abroad. Whether it is Sambalpuri, Berhampuri, Bomkai or tribal sarees and drapes, fashions of odisha were not represented properly earlier, but now a new wave of designers such as Bibhu Mohapatra, Pritam Panda, Pankaja Sethi and Rashmi Mohapatra have gone international and found a place for Odisha on the Global Fashion map.
Growing up with his family in Odisha, on the east coast of India, Bibhu Mohapatra’s appreciation for sumptuous indian fabrics and vibrant colors began at an early age. This initial exposure to textiles and garment construction still inspires Bibhu’s designs and permeates throughout the collections of his namesake label.
Bibhu moved to America in 1996, and after graduating from Utah state university with a masters degree in economics, moved to new york city in 1999 were he then enrolled at the fashion institute of technology. While working on his design degree, Bibhu honed his skills as an assistant designer at the iconic American fashion label, Halston.
In his senior year at fit, Bibhu was commended for his design skill and aesthetic and awarded the prestigious critic’s award for best evening wear designer. This recognition helped launch his career. After graduating, Bibhu was hired by Gilles Mendel, ceo of the iconic French furrier J.Mendel.
Bibhu held the position of design director at the label for nine years, where his innate talent and sense of style were revealed in the cutting edge designs of glamorous gowns and magnificently opulent furs. Responding to the rapidly increasing demand for his work however, Bibhu moved out on his own and began designing custom couture evening gowns, cocktail dresses and furs for a select group of private clients in New York, Europe and India.
Bibhu’s eponymous label, Bibhu Mohapatra, launched its first collection during New York fashion week in 2009. Since then, the fashion house is currently being sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Lane Crawford and select specialty boutiques across North America, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
From the quaint coastal town of Balasore to displaying his collection at the haute couture store Harrods in London, fashion designer Pritam Panda has travelled a long way.
The 28-year-old has climbed the ladder of success fast, thanks to his dedication and self-confidence.
Panda, who owns the VKY house of fashion in Calcutta, has dressed top celebrities of Bollywood and many international models.
Despite receiving all the fame and success, Pritam is a typical Oriya pua from his heart. An alumnus of the St Vincent’s Convent School in Balasore, he was indecisive about what career to choose as a teenager.
Pritam went to the Bhawanipur Education Society College in the city of joy to pick up the nuances of fashion. But it was not a bed of roses for Pritam; he had to work hard right from the age of 19, assisting designers at a store in the city.
Currently, Pritam’s label caters exclusively to high-end designer stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, London, Manchester, Bradford, Phuket, Bangkok, Malaysia, France, Syria, Dubai and Dhaka.
The young designer has a long list of clientele in Bollywood like Vidya Balan, Celina Jaitley, Koena Mitra, Mugdha Godse, Malaika Arora-Khan, Tanaaz Karim, Sherlin Chopra and many others.
His international clients include Zeenia Albert, Haaifa Wahibi, Tim Winglet, Lissa Unoor.
Rashmi Mohapatra, an eminent vocalist & entrepreneur & the brain behind Raas Weaves, always wanted to start something of her own which would help promote Odisha. When she was in Gujarat, she always wondered whether she would ever get a chance to go back to Odisha and put her dream into action. But fortunately, her husband was posted back in Bhubaneswar which marked the beginning of the journey for Raas. She is very fond of dressing up and spreading fashion ideas and also has a keen liking for handloom products. With this inclination and her inner drive towards social help, she started Raas along with internationally renowned fashion designer Pritam Panda.
Each design that they come up with is unique and they have come up with more than 150 designs of their own. Each piece that they sell is one of its kind. Their design team does the market research and trend analysis before coming up with the ideas. When asked whether they design according to customer demands or according to their imagination,she says that equal preference is given to both. They believe in the strength of free flow of thought as well as the need for customer satisfaction.
A social entrepreneur, wanderer, researcher in the pursuit of stories and weaves, her passion for travel is where it all began. She started connecting with Adivasi women and weavers to learn about craft and culture, the journey that took her to places such as Jharkhand, Kutch, Odisha, and as far as Indonesia. Drawing inspiration from the raw textures, colours, forms and silhouettes of nature, Pankaja Sethi began working on creating her own range of textiles in collaboration with artisans by empowering several artists, building a dialogue between designer and weaver through ‘Kala aur Katha’ design and research studio. And that is how “Pankaja” was born.
Call it art, call it innovation, each of her pieces have a story to narrate. They are not only beautiful handcrafted indigenous weaves but involve methods of natural dyeing and recycled craft work as well. Based in Bhubaneswar, she believes it is her travels that provide the inspiration and ideas for her collections.