With any platform, transparency can be an often ignored yet valuable tool to communicate with ones audience, here I lay bare the apprehension with which I approached Badaam, a Multicultural Indo-Western brand based out of Sydney, Australia.
Driven by my own unwavered interest in the silhouette shapes and colours with which Badaam crafted their pieces, I spoke to Priyanka Kaul, the brands founding mother, whose authentic expression of views left me firmly transfixed with not only the character behind the brand but the brand that is in itself becoming a living breathing character, one that undoubtably will begin to champion the Australian fashion industry.
What motivated you to craft a brand whose primary focus is ethical and cultural clothing?
I guess I wanted to be part of the growing momentum that forces people to think about how a business impacts on the lives of all those that participate in its success. This can be reflected in supporting ethical work practices and the use of ethically sourced materials.
Although more expensive and more difficult to do I have tried my best to ensure that I adopt this approach. For me this thought was foundational in how I designed and ran my business. Consumers are changing, people understand the consequences of their choices as are producers.
For example, I understand if I choose to use mill made produce or if I pay a cheaper price for my fabrics, somewhere down the line someone is being taken advantage of, whether that is Mother Nature or a mother, father or child working on below minimum wage. I cannot wholeheartedly produce garments with that weight on my consciousness.
Culture is a big part of Badaam as it uses blends of both Indian and western aesthetic and silhouette. My motivation for this is, well, I am an Australian woman of an Indian heritage. These two cultures blending is part of my nature, my upbringing, and habits, I can’t design one style of fashion without considering the other.
There seems to be a large shift in the millennial interest, a lot of youths seem to be striving for inclusivity within the fashion industry, how far has the fashion industry come in terms of this and how much farther do you think it has to go?
I don’t think fashion has ever been exclusive. People have always found a way to associate with a fashion aesthetic (consciously or sub-consciously). I think what has changed is “high” fashion. High fashion labels have realised they can no longer sustain brands that live behind glass doors or just on the runway.
Technology has also changed the landscape of accessibility and opened avenues for youth to recognise trends and styles more quickly. Also, there is so much variety in what you can purchase online and from which country; it is impossible to find a missing sub-culture of fashion.
However there is still a far way to go for fashion in Australia. In terms of inclusivity it is hard for migrant youth to associate with labels that represent a singular anglo-cultural aesthetic and it becomes a conflict of interest when brands appropriate your own culture without acknowledgement of their inspiration.
Fashion in Australia has also just started to deliver androgynous clothing so it’s only a matter of time before most labels incorporate elements of cultural and gender fluid styles.
Beyond your love and passion for creating a beautifully unique brand, what else motivates you?
Oh there’s so much. I don’t see myself as a fashion designer. When I was studying fashion design I was constantly styling, photographing and illustrating because fashion was just the by-product of my creative process. I am all about creating an aesthetic that is unique or references art or a period in time.
When I design a collection I am not thinking about silhouettes first I am thinking about the story and the time and place of the person wearing my clothing. Art and the process of creating is really my motivation. I could be creating anything from sculptures, paintings or garments as long as I am creating something the passion will continue to buzz inside me.
In terms of handwoven and ethical garments, how lacking do you feel the industry is?
I can only comment on the Australian Industry. Australia is such a vast nation and nature is a big part of our quality of life. Australian’s understand the value of handmade and ethical, environmentally safe production. They celebrate and welcome ethical fashion however the hardships of sourcing production and manufacturing is obvious in a remote country which does not have its own textile production mills.
I can understand why larger companies for the sake of expansion and growth want to choose less ethical practices. However, like anything in business it is always a choice and never an excuse.
Until all labels are ethical there will always be an uneven price point and companies not held accountable for their unethical practices will always starve ethical designers of profits.
What would you say your process has been, in terms of choosing inspiration through your culture and beyond to help craft your brand ?
My process is quite strange. I have so many points of inspiration it’s a bit ridiculous. The beauty of designing indo-western clothing is you are inspired by both western and indian culture. Some days I am watching 1970s Indian films and other days I am taking photos of Australian flora.
I generally live in another world between mid-century charm and 90s minimalist interiors. It is hard for me to pick a single century or culture to draw inspiration from as I am only just starting to explore my art direction but I know with time I will tighten my niche.
As a designer of colour what particular difficulties would you say you have faced?
I think my difficulty started in fashion school, the inspirations or designers that were always referred to or referenced were always designers who designed western clothing. It was always hard to explain the aesthetic and choices I made in my designs so I mostly avoided designing indo-western clothing in my assignments.
I think there are really two basic challenges when it comes to people from a minority background. One is the obvious potential for discrimination, racist or xenophobic attitudes exist everywhere. If I were someone from an Anglo background trying to start-up in India I’d be facing unique challenges in that context.
I think I am fortunate that for the most part I don’t think the Australian industry discriminates against designers of colour; it is mostly about your networks. Here-in lies the second challenge. There aren’t many designers of colour in the industry but that’s because there aren’t many students of colour in the creative industry! Coming from an Indian background it isn’t necessarily a field that gets much support when you are young and studying. Parents don’t often encourage creative outlets as careers.
Finally, when will your debut collection be launching and how can readers snag some of your pieces?
So Badaam is mainly made to order and we have just launched our website! You can find our new pieces on www.badaam.co, or you can message me with any requests =) We will be launching a pop up store in Melbourne later in the year as well! But for all updates and sneak peaks definitely check out our Instagram @___badaam page.
Photography by @jessbrohier
Make up by @melbsmakeupartist
Styling by @poppybuntz