Home » I am proud that people associate me with fashion: In conversation with FDCI Prez Sunil Sethi

I am proud that people associate me with fashion: In conversation with FDCI Prez Sunil Sethi

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I am proud that people associate me with fashion: In conversation with FDCI Prez Sunil Sethi

Dressed in an elegant beige-coloured khadi bandhgala, Jodhpur pants and dupatta, Sunil Sethi, founder of the Fashion Council of India, exudes a spirit of enthusiasm and positivity from the moment you meet him. “I have been carrying ‘Made in India’ on my sleeve for so many years. I always dress in a way which makes me proud to be an Indian. The best thing about khadi is it is not being promoted to the elite. As long as there’s a design element to it, it does extremely well. And what better place to wear khadi than Ahmedabad?,” he shares while here to receive the third honorary doctorate of his career. Talking about the honour, he adds that he feels special to receive it but it also indicates that it’s his time to retire now! “But I am not taking that message (laughs). I am only aiming to go forward,” he quips. Sitting down for a brief chat with us, Dr Sethi has a lot to share, from his experience with fashion and arts, his love for the land of Mahatma and opportunities within the industry. Excerpts from the chat:
I am very proud that people associate me with fashion
As a leading name in fashion and innovation, Dr Sethi was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Literature by Karnavati University recently. A nod to his immense contribution to fashion, product design, business and arts, the honour feels doubly special for he is receiving it in Ahmedabad, he says. “For me, Ahmedabad and fashion have a unique connection. I love exposed concrete and this city has the best structures to offer. It has a special place in my heart. I have done khadi shows at IIM-A and Sardar Patel museum. My heart swells with pride to think I did such amazing shows in the land of Mahatma himself. Over the years, a lot of my designers too have done shows here. So, to be honoured in Gujarat, a land so meaningful to me, and where dignitaries like PM Modi and Smriti Irani attended my shows, is a big high for me.”

Innovating is like second nature to Dr Sethi and he has always believed in doing something different regardless of awards or felicitations. “I am always trying to revive the business of fashion. But such honours feel like a pat on the back and they make one realise that all the years of work you’ve done, have not gone unnoticed. I’ve been working on product design and textiles for over 30 years and in fashion for 15 years. I am very proud of the fact that people associate me with fashion. To work with all the creative minds of the country and bring out so many unique things is pure joy for me. Frankly, I am not qualified to be a doctor of literature by studying for many years and securing a Phd. But the fact that I am being given this degree is really precious for me.”

‘Fashion is no longer only for the elite’
Among the many things that Dr Sethi loves to do, one is interacting with bright young minds and being able to share his experiences. His eyes spark with joy as he walks through the campus and talks to students. He says, “In the auditorium, I spoke to many students today, and they’re all so alive! And topics like fashion, product design, textiles, merchandising, styling, as well as interior design are closest to my heart. And I feel fortunate to be able to address students like these and be able to advise them through my experience.”

Having seen and built the graph of the fashion industry for so many years, what does he feel about the present and future of it? “There’s a decentralisation of fashion now and it is a good thing. When I came to the industry, people used to say fashion is only for the elite. Even 10 years ago I used to hear such statements. But now, everybody wants to sport designer wear. I think for future designers, the opportunities are galore, you just have to seize them. I am a believer of carpe diem- seize the day! If you’re well trained people will be more than willing to take you on. There’s always a need for younger, creative designers,” he concludes.

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