Over the past few years, there has been a burgeoning movement among South Asian designers who challenge Western perceptions of South Asia’s position within the fashion landscape. They are pushing past the typecasting as purveyors of either mass-produced fast fashion or traditional wear for the rich and famous (by designers such as Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee) while creating a new blueprint for ethical fashion. Designers such as Shradha Kochhar and Natasha Sumant breathe new life into fabric scraps sourced throughout India.
Gundi Studios and my journey with it as a founder/creative director has been amazing but in the past years turbulent. Through thepandemicI saw factories shut, units I spent so much time nurturing close down, and artisans I worked with go back to their hometowns and change careers altogether. For a while our production was on a standstill as the world reset, so it was only natural that our business went through that, if only somewhat reluctantly.
Natasha Sumant was working as a freelance art director in New York when she started exploring South Asian feminism.
Espousing Indian textile families, weavers, and artisans, these community-driven brands instill contemporary pieces with extraordinary, history-indebted flourishes and skill honed across generations. The result? Clothes that can be worn to a big Indian wedding just as easily as they can be thrown on for a turbulent rickshaw ride through the local neighbourhood.
After studying and working for nearly ten years in New York City, art director Natasha Sumant found herself changing her behavior every time she visited her home country of India. She, and other women like her, felt they were always under scrutiny by men. And always under the thumb of patriarchal norms.
Natasha Sumant radiates an air of quiet confidence that those who’re on the top of their game can achieve. An art-director based in New York with an impressive clientele that includes Soko Glam and Pat McGrath Labs, she’s a petite woman with large dark eyes, poker straight black hair and impeccable style.