Digitalisation has increased the boundaries of the world of fashion. The blend of fashion and technology has taken a great leap. Designers like Roma Narsinghani and Adhiraj Singh have ushered in the next era of technology, leading the digital transition of Indian Fashion.
With the world finding itself caged within the four walls, the design world found new ways to innovate and discover newer forms of storytelling. Designers have leveraged this period into one of introspection, self-discovery and transformation. Artisanal jewellery designer, Roma Narsinghani has pushed the envelope further with the introduction of Indian digital models, showcasing her sculptural pieces on the highly touted Helsinki Fashion Week ’20 runway. “The experience has been quite overwhelming for me. It’s a new concept but I believe it is a brilliant idea to create a digital avatar out of a real human being which in hindsight also makes a fitting tool for the products that we would create henceforth.” the designer said.
Roma has collaborated with Adhiraj Singh, a digital design consultant and co-founder of sustainable Digi-fashion label, LOTA. “Digitalisation has increased the boundaries of the world of fashion. We are able to explore more opportunities to not only innovate but also complement the existing traditional ways.” says the artisanal designer. The opportunity to place Indian digital models for the first time on an international stage provided further impetus to the collaboration. The never-seen-before presentation witnessed three Indian digital models — Rajiv, Shyamli, and Priya — take to the runway, as designed by the art director, Adhiraj.
Enter – Gaia Collection:
The designer’s latest collection ‘Gaia’ took off on a digital collection launch. Roma has adapted and changed her approach quite fast and even introduced a virtual campaign and Instagram filters to transcend into the medium of digital art. Roma shares, “For me, the sense of experimentation was not only extended to a digital collection, but I also realised that we can expand our campaign into different spheres. The number of people on social media and networking applications has gone up drastically in the last few years, and the numbers have been charting new heights during the pandemic. With the digital fashion show, the fashion industry at large has been introduced to a whole new world.”
The designer’s signature use of geometrical motifs is visible in the collection, albeit with a pared-down approach as the motifs adopt a minimalist aesthetic. Each piece in the lineup is emblematic of the many emotions that have been triggered by the current state of the world. like – ‘Ghutan’ captures the feeling of being caged with a metal bubble wrap design, ‘Maitreya’ ushers in awakening and enlightenment, ‘Aikyam’ symbolises our harmony with nature and ourselves. She says, “It’s the power within us that brings us together collectively into a space of oneness. Self-observation and self-cleanse, thus, come from this guiding source.”
Currently produced as a digital collection, the decision to showcase the collection online has minimised the waste that occurs generally in the trial-and-error process of product sampling. On the basis of the response by the fashion community, the pieces will then be produced with recycled brass and silver. Roma adds, “By using cutting edge tools such as 3D product design, virtual sampling, we can react faster to market trends, significantly reducing both sample and time-to-market, with a focus on getting to a minimum viable product, which allows us to integrate digital and generate value, reducing overall investments. We are also collaborating remotely across teams and when we do get down to production, it becomes faster to manufacture with fewer mistakes, thereby reducing the team’s carbon footprint.” The label’s novel approach enable customers to choose designs that they are certain will add value to their lives.
The jewellery industry has experienced a very big hit during the last few months. The ongoing health crisis has posed as a unique challenge for brands with no scope of freely reopening physical stores coupled with a future of uncertainty.
Creating a blend between technology and hand-crafted elements in a ‘never-seen-before’ avatar, she says, “The fine line between a digital and physical show is the sense of involvement and interaction. There is always going to be a missing link between the two. We have seen such sensational physical shows in the past that it will be a journey to have a similar experience for a digital show. There is tremendous potential for digital shows as they can take you to dimensions that physical spaces can not possibly create. I also feel that there it is really important to have the right balance between digitisation and the traditional outlook. Though it has been a challenge in creating a tangible product digitally, we were to make sure the details were incorporated in the correct manner with the help of the digital artisans on board.” The 3D designer Adhiraj Singh has worked on to achieve a very ‘real’ look of the product in terms of metals, materials and aesthetics.“I have gotten the opportunity to collaborate and work with a brilliant team and it has been quite a learning. Adapting was a tedious and time-consuming process but I can say that India has immense talent in its small pockets.”
Since the inception of her jewellery label in 2016, Roma Narsinghani has been credited with scripting a unique and intricate design methodology. In a string of digital innovations, she has launched Instagram AR filters that enable users to experience her new collection, ‘GAIA’. “Instagram has a great personal appeal and a filter seemed perfect to capture the emotion of the audience. The use of Instagram filters to make a very tangible product impact in intangible ways to an audience not only specific to your location or area has shown us that people are getting aware of the options they have and there are no restrictions anymore.” the designer added. The feedback has been overwhelming with more than 2,00,000 impressions and 3000 captures in just 48 hours of release.
Adapting Digital Business:
Roma Narsinghani was quick to jump into this digital bandwagon, create a digital show and adapt to the changing times. The jewellery designer reconfigured her business offering to reach a new segment of consumers in the digital realm. “The digital world is vast and there is so much to explore which makes it even more interesting and exciting. Digital visualization is the next big thing and is already doing exceptionally well. I feel it’s really important to have the digital aspect a lot more interactive for the customer to have a wholesome experience. It will take some time to transform into the digital world. Creative digital tools such as Instagram filters, interactive lookbooks and digital campaigns have also made their way into the industry and are being very well received.” Roma enlightens. The brand has sought to open the door on new revenue models by pitching to virtual gaming communities and fashion e-tailers.
In just a quick span of time, the touch business became an absolute ‘no’ for manufacturers and consumers. It has been a wake-up call for all mankind to become conscious of their choices and work they put in different things. The urgency to change into a digital medium boomed in a positive manner, making brands aware that it is important to reinvent and restructure the traditional practices. Roma shares, “With respect to jewellery, a very tangible product, the idea is to create a space to eliminate one entire chain of people. The key is to nail the textures and fit of the product through the digital forms especially with the whole ‘physical’ aspect of everyday life and businesses getting affected. The digital world has a huge reach. The number of people on social media and networking applications has gone up drastically in the last few years, especially the usage of this was pushed a lot more due to the pandemic. This acts as a beneficial tool to reach a wider audience. It is crucial to keep the audience engaged and entertained now more than ever.”
Taking the pandemic into consideration and the major shift towards digital medium, these virtual campaigns, shows serve as a manifestation of brand innovation and creates a great example for homegrown brands to adopt newer ways. The ace designer concludes, “India has got digital artisans doing great work. Relying on technology has its own challenges too. We also learnt that letting go of some things you actually want to do is also part of the process. Change is the only constant and it is very important to jump into the new wave of digitalisation. There is a lot to experiment and learn on this path of digitalisation our brand has taken. There are so many exciting things in the pipeline that I’m keen to show my audience and consumers.”