For generations, people of Northeast had the perfection in the art of traditional weaving with natural yarns such as cotton, linen and silk. However due to urbanization weavers started weaving using synthetic yarns and that of course blemished the artistic uniqueness of the conventional weaving. Nevertheless, a graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design in 2016, Patricia Zadeng from Mizoram initiated to make ready-to-wear garments and custom clothing with the concept of going back to traditional way of using natural fibers. Growing up as an average kid and retrospection on her life, she realized that she wanted to do something meaningful in her life. Today Patricia has a contemporary textile brand called “Lapâr” using only natural yarns such as cotton, linen and silk.
Tell us something about yourself
Growing up I was always a mediocre kid. I tried learning a lot of things such as playing the piano, sports and painting but I never really found what I was good at. I was not the type to be passing exams with flying colours either. After my Class XII board exam, I reflected on my life and realized that I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.
Being an independent designer was one thing I thought I would be good at. Creating something new that is worth doing was the biggest dream of mine and for that I had to work hard. I enjoy working with colours, always designed my own clothes and got them stitched and I also have a flair for business (Thanks to my mom who started her own business). I applied at the best design college in the country, fortunately got in and I have been working on making my dream a reality ever since.
I graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design in 2016. While studying there, I interned at Rahul Mishra Pvt Ltd, New Delhi and got the opportunity to work on his Spring Summer 2015 Paris Fashion Week Collection. Subsequently I did my graduation project at Maku Textiles Pvt Ltd, Kolkata and worked on launching their hand woven saree collection. Moreover I studied pattern making for six months at NIFT Mumbai in 2016.
As a textile designer how do you promote and preserve your cultural textile?
Working with our cultural textile has always been my aim in life. While at NID, we studied on different living crafts of India. It is here that I truly learnt as a textile designer, it is our responsibility to help sustain craft traditions.
In Mizoram, the main issue with our cultural textile is that weavers are accustomed to weaving only synthetic yarns. Using these yarns, the quality of our products has gone down. Therefore it is very difficult to expand the market beyond our state.
I have started a contemporary textile brand called “Lapâr”. Lapâr translates to cotton flower in Mizo language. The concept behind the name being: going back to using natural fibers (As our forefathers once did) and make our textile blossom again. We work with loin loom weavers and frame loom weavers from different parts of the state.
We weave all our fabrics on handloom using only natural yarns such as cotton, linen and silk. Then create them into puans (Mizo traditional wrap around skirt), stoles, shawls and bags. We make ready-to-wear garments and also custom clothing on order basis. Our designs are inspired by our traditions. We believe in simplicity and try to have minimum carbon footprint to be environment friendly whenever possible. We enjoy making elegant pieces that are comfortable to wear and are timeless in their design.
What is the difference between a textile designer and a fashion designer?
In simple terms, a textile designer creates fabrics while a fashion designer creates garments. A textile designer’s work includes making fabric structures, prints and patterns and surface ornamentation. Sometimes the two streams would overlap.
I consider myself as a textile designer although we make garments because our fabric is the highlight of our brand. We first design our fabrics then only we work on the garment.
A fashion designer’s work would be more inclined to the latest trends, whereas at Lapâr, our main focus is to revive our tradition and to extend the life of our products as much as possible.
Northeast as a whole is quite a diverse place and rich in textile heritage. What’s your advice to the common people in preserving their own textile?
We ought to be proud of our heritage. We can show our pride in our culture by incorporating our traditional textiles in our everyday life. We should definitely support our local artisans. Make lesser purchase of corporate owned retail brands and source locally made goods more often.
Do the younger generations need to go back in taking interest on their textile?
I was never really interested in working with traditional textile. It was only after I did “Craft Documentation” a curriculum in college that I realized its importance. Our younger generations need to be reminded that our textile is an important part of our culture. Supporting our textiles equals supporting our roots.
Do you have an outlet where you outsource your collections?
We make all our clothes in our studio in Aizawl. We usually have people coming to our studio to buy our products. We are also setting up a pop-up shop in another location in Aizawl. We also sell through our Instagram account. We do not sell outside anywhere else at the moment. Over 80% of our yarns are sourced from the Northeast.
As a young entrepreneur do you think entrepreneurship is the answer to unemployment crises?
Definitely! For me I am able to perform my best when I am in charge of all decision-making, this way I am able to perform my best. I never really liked working in the corporate world; it isn’t my cup of tea.
I started my entrepreneurship journey two years ago and I am working with more than 10 weavers at the moment. It’s an amazing feeling to provide work not just for myself but also for many women who are usually far older than me. It is quite empowering.
I wish more people from the northeast were inspired to be their own boss.
What is your advice to the youths of Northeast?
Find your “Ikigai”. Find out what you are good at, what interests you and how can you make that into living. Have a positive outlook on life, live the best life you can and work the hardest you can.