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India’s Gen Next Designers

The Lakm Fashion Week Gen Next programme launches five new designers this season, showcasing an experimental take on Indian handlooms

Jajaabor by Kanika Sachdev
Jajaabor by Kanika Sachdev

What’s common between designers Aneeth Arora, Masaba Gupta, Nachiket Barve and Rahul Mishra? They are all Gen Next graduates, an enduring fixture on the Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) calendar which showcases promising new designers. Since it launched in 2005, the initiative has developed into a mentorship programme for up-and-coming names, giving them an opportunity not just to showcase their brand on the runway but also receive insights on running their business and building a commercially viable fashion brand.

This season, the Gen Next line-up includes five designers, all based in Delhi. Each of these designers is heavily invested in reinventing traditional textiles, so expect to see lots of Khadi and handlooms in experimental East-meets-West silhouettes and ingenious textures. Also bringing the quintet together are their inspirations—be it Impressionism, children’s doodles or exotic vacations, art and travel inform the aesthetics of these designers.

Here’s your first look at their collections and what to expect from the joint showcase on 22 August, the opening day of Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2018.


Founders Neelanjan Ghosh and Kanika Sachdev distil their travels in clothing. “The collection draws from our home-stay stories around the world," they say. “Our prints reflect rows of houses on snowy mornings and our embroideries are an artful representation of hand-drawn maps on tissue paper."


Yavi’s designs pay homage to both art and handloom. “It’s where art meets fashion to create a new aesthetic in worn Impressionism, whilst being rooted in the innovative uses of traditional textiles," says founder Yadvi Agarwal. Expect to see the label’s signature hand-painted jackets, made by layers of printing with blocks and found objects, and one-thread embroidery, on the runway.


Shweta Gupta, who trained with Tarun Tahiliani and Gaurav Gupta, loves infusing textiles with abstract art. Her inspiration for the LFW is mountains, their contours, and rugged beauty created with handwoven Chanderi using cotton, silk and Merino wool yarn. Gupta says, “You will see a lot of luxurious textured fabric and silhouettes that evoke a balance between subtle and strong".


National Institute of Fashion Technology graduate Ajay Kumar Singh worked at Yash Raj Films and Channel V before starting his own label, AUR. The collection, titled Imagination, will showcase handloom, digital-print patchwork and surface techniques. Singh’s take on his subject is unique—he works with children with intellectual and mental disabilities, turning their patterns into graphics and textures.

Label Anurag Gupta

“My USP is patterns and embroidery," says Anurag Gupta, who has done stints with designers Varun Bahl and Manish Arora. “I make intricate patterns but with clean and sharp edges." Always on the lookout for new techniques and crafts, Gupta will showcase block printing and embroidery on monochromatic Khadi denim and Khadi linen in a collection inspired by Day And Night, an iconic work by artist M.C. Escher.

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