Once you engage in a conversation with Soham Dave, you will realize his undeterred commitment to crafts of India. There is a streak of purity in his work and his words which make him stand out in the cluttered market of today.
Seeking inspiration from the rural roots of India, Soham launched his eponymous label ‘Soham Dave’ in New York, immediately after he graduated from FIT in 2011. What followed was a two-year long cycle of understanding the business, coupled with a series of successes, failures, and self-realisation. He came back to India and finally started his production from Ahmedabad. And since then, Soham, without engaging much in the rhetorics of ‘sustainability’ has been giving it a new dimension.
He has schemed out his brand’s vision truly on the phenomenon of ‘Made In India’. From using natural ingredients to dye and cleanse his fabrics to washing and drying them naturally, under the sun, he ensures minimum wastage of resources. Most of the fabric he uses in production is hand made.
Want to know more about Soham’s ultra cool label. Read on…
Formative Years: I grew up in Surendranagar, a town 100 Km outside from Ahmedabad. Everyone in my family gravitated towards engineering or medicine, nobody was really involved in any aspect of design or fashion.
Following the family custom, even I did electrical engineering. But somehow I was not too convinced pursuing it as a career. After I was done with engineering I took some time out to explore other creative routes. It took a while for me to realize that I was more into art and different aspects of it. Eventually, I went to NIFT Gandhinagar to pursue a year long program to understand basics of garment and technology. After finishing my degree at NIFT I started working with SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association), where I worked for a couple of years and traveled to remote villages and explored the various crafts of Gujrat. SEWA is a famous NGO run by women for marginalized women artisans.
After working on a variety of projects with SEWA, for a couple of years, I left for New York in 2008 to pursue my Masters in Fashion Management from FIT, New York. It was purely a management program. I graduated in 2011 and started my label back in New York.
One of the major motivations behind launching my label immediately was that I wanted to work on my concepts than to be a part of a big western label. For the coming 2 years, I was on a roller coaster ride. Understanding the market, production, traveling all over the US and figuring out the business on the whole. At that time business was a challenge for us as we did not have in-house facilities to produce. Eventually, I moved back to India to start the production in Ahmedabad. Now everything is done in house, apart from the textile part, which happens in different corners of India.
Earliest memories of fashion/design: If I look back, inspiration came from different sources. My grandmother was a teacher, my father was a civil engineer and my great grand father was a farmer. Growing up, I used to visit his farm and the surrounding villages and this early-on exposure to the wonderful rural India, has intrigued me since the beginning. And is now visible even in my designs. I am always working with artisans and craftsmen in the villages, as I can easily connect with them and understand the kind of lifestyle they lead.
The story behind the label: For me, it’s more about the textures and the textiles. We don’t follow trends. In my collections, I celebrate the exquisite Indian rooted textiles in a modern way. My process starts with my decision to work with a particular textile and then the entire story is woven along. Silhouettes come at the end of the story but are equally important. When I create something, the core of each and every detail is ease. My aim is to create designs which are comfortable and easy to wear.
Creative Process: For me, it’s all about creating textures and somehow geometry has also been very important to me. I prefer sticking to minimal aesthetics with an undertone of luxury.
Sustainability: I work with fabrics which are woven on hand looms, most of my fabric is hand made without using electricity. When we color or dye the fabrics we ensure playing around with natural ingredients. For example, we use to cow dung to resize the fabrics, we use natural ingredients to cleanse the fabric too. The printing happens with hand blocks, they are washed and dried in open sunlight, ensuring the minimum use of electricity.
The entire process is focused on producing something by wasting minimal resources, this fits in the definition of sustainability. Other than this, our bags and shoes are created by using the left overs of our collection, so up cycling is also a part of our creative vocabulary.