THE LUXE AFFAIR: WITH ASTIK SHERCHAN
The fashion industry of Nepal has taken giant strides in the past decade. Along the way we’ve seen some talented artists bring forth their creations garnering the acclamation of many. The slow but certain rise of the industry is a positive gain that helps add a strong dimension to the dynamic city of Kathmandu and Nepal as a whole.
Amongst the several fashion labels on the rise, Astik sets himself apart with a regal elegance that each piece personifies. Astik Sherchan has been a well-known name in the Nepali fashion scene. After attending fashion school at Le Studio Bercot, Paris and gaining a fair amount of experience he returned to Kathmandu to establish his own atelier. Having started with his label christened Astik Designs, Sherchan has reshaped and revamped his work with a mix of traditional and modern outfits that encompass the past, present and future. We found ourselves at PULCHOWK 3, Sherchan’s royally decored establishment where we had a chance to look back at his journey into the industry and where he is headed next.
You have made your mark in the fashion industry in the present but let’s go to the start and ask you how and when did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I have no exact recollection of when I decided to become a fashion designer but the passion for designing started from my childhood itself. But I had no idea how to become a professional designer because it takes a lot of time to reach the level when someone wants to pursue it professionally. It was a challenge for me too but I got lucky enough to go to Paris and study fashion designing and somehow it all came together and I am doing well for myself.
Did you have a plan B? If you weren’t designing clothes what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t in the fashion industry it was pretty sure I would be in some other creative field. I like anything that has to do with music, art, cinema, literature, architecture and poetry and creative subjects like as such. At some point in my life I had given architecture a thought because it was more mainstream or more respectable in Nepal than me getting into fashion designing. I was always amazed by the symmetry and the geometry in architecture but growing up I was bad in mathematics and physics and pursuing architecture meant I would have to be good at it. And I gave that idea up pretty quickly. However, there is a lot of technicality involved in fashion designing as well as it takes a lot of training and a lot of discipline. Also it involves a lot of physics when creating a design and turning that design into a product. That being said it is easier to control the designing of a garment than the control of a large building.
Do you have any remembrance of a moment that you can remember that inspired you to be a fashion designer?
I was always good at sketching from a young age and most of my sketches ended up being some kind of a fashion costume or a dress. So, clothing designs was what I wanted to sketch the most and I really enjoyed it. However there is a huge difference between drawing designs and turning that design into clothes. So, there was still a hesitation but I loved it so much I had to figure out a way to do it.
What is your creative process?
There is no fixed creative process when I design because it keeps changing with the mindset, time because the process should not be constant otherwise you cannot try out new things. For instance I used to sketch a lot but with time I figured that I would have to throw most of my designs because it didn’t work on the fabric. And it becomes a waste of time. Well, you can try but it doesn’t turn out that way. Sometimes, there are limited resources and the manpower isn’t enough so there are a lot of factors that I have to consider before figuring out my creative process.
I WAS ALWAYS GOOD AT SKETCHING FROM A YOUNG AGE AND MOST OF MY SKETCHES ENDED UP BEING SOME KIND OF A FASHION COSTUME OR A DRESS.
I mostly go with my instinct on what design would look good on a certain fabric and visualize it and start working on it. And also for working with clients I think communication is the key. It should be clear about what I can do for them and what they have in their minds. Also, I have a hard time working with schedules and deadlines and it is actually chaotic but it is very organic because it makes me better as a designer. Some designers only focus on one kind of a silhouette or just one kind of fabric and no matter how good they are they cannot be complete designers. Keeping that in mind I try and work on lots of different fabrics and designs and new color combinations as well. But the most time is needed for the actual construction rather than the designing part.
So there are lots of factors that goes into the creative process. What was the most difficult part of being a fashion designer?
Finding the right people who share the same passion as yours can be difficult because one cannot do everything on his own. I didn’t know how to hand the hand embroidery and it takes a long time to perfect that. And also finding the resources whether it be the right kind of fabric or the color can be hectic as well. And I didn’t know who to ask or what to do initially so I just had to do things on my own. So, having no one to guide me was the most difficult in this journey.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like to read a lot and most of my inspiration comes from that but every dress has its own inspiration and it’s not like I have just one idea for a collection. So, more than inspiration it depends on my mood I think because some of my collection is loud and bright and others are soft and subdued. So, rather than inspiration my designs take shape of the mood I am in. except for that Bollywood movies and songs also play their part in motivating me rather than inspiring me. Inspiration for me is very hard to describe because whatever makes you feel a certain was might count as an inspiration.
What is the most common difference in designing clothes for men and women?
Men are obviously more restricted when it comes to trying out clothes. The color palette is completely different for men and women. For men the only requirement is the perfect construction in the designs but whereas with women there are a lot of factors that come to play the shades, the cut, I can add things, or take out a few things. There are a lot of options to try out. With men how I style is more important that what I create. And with the men’s collection I always ask myself if I would wear it and if I would I go ahead with the plan.
What is the inspiration behind your newest men’s collection?
For this collection I was just thinking about the spring and summer and I associate it with flowers but it is a men’s collection and floral is something men hesitate to wear but is slowly getting its way to people’s mindset. But I thought it was going to be fun. I also wanted my men’s collection to compliment my women’s collection so at the end of the day being a designer I try to provide for everyone and challenge myself to create different things and also so that is the story about my latest men’s collection.
How do you define your personal style?
My personal style also changes, I tend to dress myself according to the environment as we don’t have the best of roads of the cleanest of air so I try to be cautious about the surrounding. Nepal is still very much stuck in the 70s and the 80s fashion wise. But it has been going that way. I personally prefer futuristic designs but I cannot wear it here, I like spikes coming out of my shoes and other kings of dramatic designs but wearing it here might be perceived in a very different way. So the best way to keep it maintained is to go to classic designs like a double breasted coat and a well-tailored trousers. So I stick with classic things. So, unfortunately I have a very normal looking wardrobe.
BLACK FLORAL VEST
We men are notorious for making this darkest of dark shade our best friend. But we don’t always have to make it all black, now do we. So say what you have to say with flowers. This will put just the right amount of your feminine side into your masculinity, elevating your game above everyone else’s. Watch jaws drop as stride past them.
PINK FLORAL VEST
Much like the green one, the vest offers the same fit and airflow. However, this one is pink. Are you afraid of pink? Don’t be. Pink has a way of showing off a man’s feminine side and people find that attractive. No matter what inclinations you have, this is bound to fetch you a fair amount of compliments.
BLACK AND GOLD JACKET
Black is the go to color for any man. Put gold in it and it’s mad fire. With that gold floral, every walk you do, is bound to be a ramp walk. If you want to send the message that you’re regal and have an aura of masculine mystery, this will be your best bet.
WORDS: SHREYA SANGROULA | PHOTOS: PRITAM CHHETRI