Issue 18 / Fashion Designer Archana Kochhar Celebrates India's Artisans On Her New York Runway

Fashion Designer Archana Kochhar Celebrates India’s Artisans On Her New York Runway

Oct 03, 2015

The world of fashion is a difficult marketplace for one to sustain their own brand but ANOKHI A-list alum, designer and couturier Archana Kochhar's designs have been gracing the ramp for over a decade.

Born in Mumbai, India, Archana Kochhar studied commerce and business management at NMIS College in Mumbai and credits 20 years of industry experience as her most valuable training to date. With no formal education in design, Archana Kochhar has carved a niche brand that ranges from bridal wear, prêt–à–porter and menswear. Her designs have been worn on the red carpet by actress Simran Kaur Mundi, Amrita Rao, Nargis Fakhri and Olympic boxer Vijender Singh.

Kochhar’s passion for design and fashion wasn’t only an outlet to channel her creativity but the freedom to explore different fabrics. Recently, Kochhar debuted her Ahimsa R??ama Spring/Summer 2016 collection at New York Fashion Week to promote the principles of Ahimsa through the “Make in India” campaign initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We had an opportunity to speak with Kochhar about her career and her recent collaboration with FTL Moda.
Tessa Johnson: How did the collaboration come about with FTL Moda?

Archana Kochhar: I was invited by FTL Moda months ago to participate in NYFW. After managing my schedule, I committed to doing the show in Fall 2015. Since then, from sending them my sketches, to their team helping me with backstage coordination and the actual ramp walk, the collaboration with FLT moda has been amazing.

TJ: When you start to design a new collection for the season, is there a process you go through that leads to the completion of your collection?

AK: Every collection has its own inspiration be it my travels, the world around us, social issues, environmental or an art form. There can’t be a standard process because it’s not art then.

TJ: What was the inspiration behind the Ahimsa R??ama collection?

My collection Ahimsa R??ama draws its inspiration from the principles of Ahimsa which means non-violence. These silks are extracted and woven without killing the silkworm. 

TJ: Can you explain the process for the Ahimsa R??ama collection?

AK: Embroidery: When I was creating my embroidery swatches I was inspired by the entire process of metamorphosis. All the moths we have saved through the process of non-violence silk [have] turned into beautiful silk moths and [by] this transformation [it] had inspired me to incorporate hundreds of tiny butterfly’s wings which I have created and bind together in a form of an intricate textural embroidery.

Silhouette: The collection is a fuse of Indian-contemporary silhouettes, where east meets west. I [was] thinking of the woman of today who are global citizens [and] would wear this collection of mine and promote this unique silk.

Colour: The colour palette of the collection is beige, which is the natural colour of the fabric, and it offsets [the] ivory and rose gold embellishments. One of the things I found interesting about the fabric is that it has different shades of beige going to brown depending upon the leave colour that the caterpillar has eaten.

Ahimsa R??ama, FTL Moda, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar


Ahimsa R??ama, FTL Moda, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar

TJ: What are your thoughts with respect to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative? How do you feel/think this will impact fashion industry globally?

AK: I think it is a fantastic campaign initiated by our prime minister. It is vital that we promote India as a manufacturing hub, be it automobiles or textiles. India has a plethora of varied and detailed textiles available. If we can promote the "Make in India" concept well, a number of brands will be encouraged to shift production base to India. Consequently, you will have an increased influence of Indian embroideries and Indian craftsmanship on global fashion. I don’t think it’s going to overhaul the fashion industry but newer trends will definitely emerge.

Tessa J: With a decade in the fashion industry, have you seen a shift in designers incorporating global influences into their designs?

AK: Most definitely. I think most designers get inspired by what is happening around them. Urban India is getting increasingly influenced by the West. Be it international shows, Hollywood movies — our children are growing up with these things. So our fashion being influenced by what is happening globally is only natural. However, I do believe the influence is a two-way phenomenon. Global designers are getting increasingly influenced by Indian fashion.

Ahimsa R??ama, FTL Moda, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar


(Left) Ahimsa R??ama, FTL Moda, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2016
(Right) Designer Archana Kochhar greets the audience in the finale
Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar


Designer Archana Kochhar at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Spring/Summer 2016
Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar

TJ: Have you felt the need to change your design aesthetic to keep up with the constant shift in the market?

AK: If a designer doesn’t innovate at all times, he or she cannot remain successful. Fashion evolves just like an individual does. So rather than a need to change my design aesthetic, I have always wanted to constantly innovative to test my own creative limits.

TJ: Are the challenges different today compared to when you started your line or are they the same?

AK: A bit of both. When I first started. I only wanted to design and sell. The challenges were to be innovative and creative with my designs. While those challenges still exist, other challenges — like maintaining the image of my brand, tying up with the right people and how to expand — have now become important issues. However, the essence still remains the challenge of coming up with designs the customer likes. It is this need for innovation that got me into fashion designing and it is what keeps me interested. 

Main Photo Credit: Archana Kochhar 

Tessa Johnson


Tessa (@tessajstyle) holds a diploma in Fashion Business Management from George Brown College and has Fashion Coordination and Styling certification from Ryerson University. She has been ANOKHI Magazine’s Fashion Editor for the last four years covering the runways from Toronto to India. Her love...


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