When Sujit Meher, hailing from western Odisha left his engineering mid way to pursue fashion designing, he had no idea that one day he would be launching his own collection. Known for fusing Sambalpuri Ikat into ready-to-wear designs and giving it a global appeal, Sujit, who lives in Bangalore, has been sincerely doing his bit to promote Odishan handloom all across the globe. Very soon, the young man would be bringing his brand ‘Tillotama – a hand with you” to Bhubaneswar as well.
Excerpts from an interview with MCL
How did you come to this profession?
I belong to a weaving family and I always wanted to carry forward this legacy. As a teenager, I clearly remember to be very fond of designing. Whenever I used to see any piece of garment or buy clothes from the market, I used to come up with new ideas for experimentation with it.
What kind of response have you been receiving for your designs outside India?
In abroad, people love to wear Sambalpuri dresses. In fact, they love the print and they also find it easy to maintain. I have received maximum compliments for my designs from European and American people.
What kind of creativity do you manage with traditional handloom of Odisha?
Though I belong to Odisha, I mostly prefer Sambalpuri clothes for my creativity. I use them to design maxi dresses, gowns, palazzos, skirts and hot pants for women and shirts, pants and many more for men. I love the Sambalpuri print and always try to retain its authenticity in my designs. I also use them to make Arabian outfits. In fact, I have also tried different combinations with Sambalpuri like a fusion with Gujarati and Rajasthani. And, people love such innovative fusions.
Apart from giving a modern touch to these traditional handlooms, I also experiment with colour combinations. In the local market, you would find a lot of colour combinations like green and blue or red and yellow. These are very common combinations and everyone uses them. However, I like to be different and innovate with colours. I feel very inspired by the works of renowned fashion designer Anita Dongre. She does a lot of experiments.
Is your creativity restricted to international market only?
Not exactly, I am now paying attention to both national and international market. I recently started my own brand named ‘Tillotama – a hand with you’ in Bangalore. It is quite popular in Mumbai even. And, on July 1st, I am opening my showroom in Bhubaneswar as well.
What is your motto behind your work?
I want to do something for the society and to uplift the weavers of Odisha. So I thought of doing something to highlight the craftsmanship of India and bring a new revolution in Indian design.
At a very young age, you have attained name and fame. So, what are the things that make you happy in life?
I don’t want to restrict myself. Through my designs, I want to explore myself as much as possible. When any celebrity wears my designed clothes, I feel happy but I will become happier when everyone (common man) wears my dresses and appreciates them. But one thing that really makes me happy is that when any one googles ‘fashion designer from Odisha’, my name comes instantly.
Apart from Sambalpuri, have you worked with other handloom material?
I usually prefer Sambalpuri but recently I am working on Maniabandha sarees and Gopalpur tussar. I researched about Maniabandha and I came to know that in the entire village, there are about six to seven weaving families who are into this handloom. I want to explore their work and if possible bring them to limelight.
Who is your inspiration?
My inspiration are the weavers. They mostly belong to poor background and for me they always do a commendable work. With my work, I always try to highlight their efforts.
Any message for the upcoming fashion designers?
Do lots of hard work. Always try to be creative with your work. Never try to copy the designs that we usually get from websites. Make your ideas so innovative that others try to follow you. Think out of box. For better results, do experiment with clothes as much possible. Your experiments will only polish your skills.