By Anurima Das
Calling Sharbari Dutta a designer will mean forgetting the rest of the verse that completes her journey with fashion. Over 25 years in the business, she truly is the artist that the menswear capsule in India and the world needed to turn to in a traditional yet stylish manner. Back in 1991, when Sharbari Dutta had her first exhibition at the Conclave, little did she know that someday her hobby will take her to newer heights and will turn her hobby into a profession.
An informal exhibition that was just organised to test the water, without any expectation, became more than a hit. “I feel extremely good when I reminisce the past. By nature, I am a little apprehensive about my work, especially because it’s for men. Celebrities and all the men I have dressed till date have helped boost my confidence; it is their love and honest feedback that have kept me and the brand going for years now,” explains Sharbari Dutta.
Cuts and Frills for men
Brand ‘Sharbari’ was a struggle in every way and thinking about the journey still gives chills to the three individuals behind the brand. While the designer knew her craft, her son Amalin Dutta and daughter in law Kanaklata Dutta held the brand together by standing through the tough times to market the products and make ‘Sharbari’ a global phenomenon. Kanaklata Dutta has been the driving force behind Shabari’s business since day one. She has single-handedly taken care of marketing and sales taking the business to where it is today. Amalin Dutta has been the backbone of production at Sharbari’s since the inception of the brand and is largely responsible for taking the brand to the heights it has reached today.
To label Sharbari Dutta as an enigma may not do justice to the persona. Had it not been for her, men would still be wearing mediocre routine outfits, either in cotton or silk, if there were weddings to attend. Sharbari Dutta’s label shook up India’s fashion scene when she introduced a myriad of colours, threads, art and textiles in menswear.
She always preferred to be called an artist and designer, who drew directly on the fabric with only pencils and a ruler. She has never used an eraser while transforming the images in her head to the fabric.
“Art for the designer has always been an effortless spontaneous craft. She has never felt that she had to put in some extra efforts to perfect her art”
Succeeding the hurdles
“I admit that I have traversed through a struggling path in several spheres of my life. But I can proudly say that my professional life has been a story of instant success. Veni, vidi, vici! I truly hold on to this slogan and believe that it sums up my journey of the last 25 years,” she comments.
“Professionally I don’t have any regrets. I could have joined the rat race in the fashion industry, participated in every fashion week, opened stores all over the country and become much more famous. But I chose to operate from my house and I wanted the world to come to me. And it has,” adds Sharbari Dutta.
Art for men
Art for the designer has always been an effortless spontaneous craft. She has never felt that she had to put in some extra efforts to perfect her art. Fluidity of her work makes for the ‘versatile’ quotient of her work and this she believes is for others to judge. “As an artist I shouldn’t be the judge of my own work,” she justifies. Sharbari Dutta is more of a revivalist and choosing menswear was surely a genuine choice that she held on to with passion and confidence over the years. “I wanted to prove that there’s no clash between masculinity and bright colours. Our Indian tradition in menswear is of bright colours and nakshas. So why have we ignored it completely? Fusing in traditional rural craft like Kantha with classical cuts and styles helped me to shape my collections over the years,” explained the designer.
“I want to carry on with my work and keep designing, as long as I can. Precisely this is what makes me who I am. This is way of life for me now and is my world. I can’t exist beyond or without this, as long as I am alive,” signs off Sharbari Dutta. We too want more from this international phenomenon and wish every little bit of her imagination translates in her threads of design.