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Silai School Opens Up An Opportunity For Women In Kashmir To Be Part Of The Lakme Fashion Week

Silai School Opens Up An Opportunity For Women In Kashmir To Be Part Of The Lakme Fashion Week

The land of incredible natural beauty and exquisite handicrafts, Kashmir's potential remains untapped due to its strife ridden past and present. In an attempt to tap into this massive pool of talent, USHA Silai Label set up a garment design and production cluster in the state in 2018.

The women from the region got a dream opportunity to be part of the team that works with ace designer Rohit Bal to produce the line of Silai label to be showcased at Lakme Fashion Week 2019.  Silai Label brand launched at last year's Lakme Fashion Week, where few women trained by the USHA Silai school went through a rigorous selection process to win a chance to work with prominent designers to create a fashion line - Silai Label. 

This year was no different for the women from Kashmir. An assessment session was organised by USHA in the tranquil premises of the Kashmir University, under the leadership of Kutch based Master Trainer, Virendra Kantila Vegad. Mr. Vegad, who is renowned for his expertise in pattern making and garment cutting, was left pleasantly surprised by the advanced skills of the Kashmiri women while assessing the work samples brought by them for the selection process.

Also Read: Previewed At Lakme Fashion Week In 2018, Silai Label Transforms Lives Of Women From Rural India

After the several grueling hours of assessment, Mr. Vegad selected 17 women who would proceed to the next stage of the programme, the training.

They know how to use the machine and they understand the garment. We just need to focus on two things, first is finishing of the garment as designer clothes require different and good finishing. Secondly, they should know the difference between the good and the bad. They should have knowledge of this difference and only then they will be motivated to make the garments of that standard. Their basic knowledge is good of the garments they make at home but they have to raise their standards to make garments for a designer like Rohit Bal. We have to train them and only after that can we get them to reach that level of quality, said Mr. Vegad about the assessment session.

Priya Somaya, the executive director of USHA Social Services, was also present during the assessment process. Talking about the next stage of the programme, Ms. Somaya informed,

Now, we are planning to organise 15 days of advance level training for which we will invite all the women back. Once that training is done, we will be selecting the women who have outperformed themselves in the second round.

When these 17 talented ladies arrived for the next session of the training, they finally understood the level of perfection that was being aimed for by the team. The next 15 days were spent for the advanced training to gain the skills required to work for a top fashion designer like Rohit Bal. Apart from the talent and the mastery of the craft, the women need another quality that will help them in the entire process, patience. The meticulous attention to detail and the sheer amount of back and forth and revisions, will not just test the talent of these women but also their attitude.

Also Read: Life After Silai School: Women In Nagaland Are Now Sewing Their Own Destinies

For the training session, Rohit Bal sent four samples of his work for the ladies to replicate, which would then be examined by him on the basis of these samples.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vegad is busy teaching the women different stitching techniques but with each passing day the deadline seems harder to meet as it is a lot of new things for women to learn and grasp and the constant pressure of a clock ticking away isn't helping. He says,

The samples sent by Rohit Bal and the understanding these women have about them, are very different. The local work of these women didn't have the quality that was required, so during the training session, I'm focusing on teaching them about the difference between the quality of their local work and Rohit Bal's samples. They will reach a certain level of quality only through regular practice and it might take some time.

One of the trainees said,

The garments that we used to make earlier were not up to the mark as compared to Rohit Bal's quality of garments. We are learning step by step here, and improving ourselves every day. We have to take care of the minor details, something we never really were concerned about earlier.

Vegad Sir has already taught us a lot of things that we will use during the production. With that knowledge we will become quicker. We even learnt how to make buttons during the training, so will not waste time in all that, she said.

The women toil for hours each day, giving it all they have to upgrade their skills and their efforts start reflecting in their work. As time goes by, the trainees see their work improving and the gap in quality of their work and what is expected of them closing. Now, it is a wait for the final verdict from the ace designer Rohit Bal himself.

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