Daniel Syiem, the fashion messiah of Meghalaya who globalised local fabric ryndia, is always innovating and improvising. The young designer, an alumnus of St Edmund’s College, says designing is all about being creative.
“As a child, I always loved drawing and then I got interested in fashion designing later in school. There was a time when I would have sketches of dresses in my notebook. That’s how it all started for me but then during my time in St Edmund’s College, I got a chance to organise a fashion show and showcase my first collection. Again, for me it was always about the passion and the opportunity,” says Syiem, one of the forefront designers in India at present. However, he admits that he is bad at sketching and says he has other ways of working and getting designs out. “I do a lot of draping and I have a good team who helps me execute those designs. Then again it’s all about inspiration. Mornings are always a good time for me because that’s when ideas come in and there are even times in middle of the night when I would get up and just make a random sketch so I don’t forget the design,” the designer, who is in his thirties, asserts.
After a long line of collections like Ryndia, Free Spirit and Amaranthine, Syiem is now working on his street fashion line. In a tête-à-tête with Jeremy Majaw, the visionary fashion designer talks about the new collection, work ethics, fashion in Shillong and much more.
We (my business partner Janessaline Pyngrope and I) are focused on the ‘PRET’ line of clothing. It basically focuses on the street fashion side of things and is a more casual approach that people can wear everyday. It’s a readier to wear clothing line. That’s what the new label is all about. The PRET line is going to be more of street wear that will be available for the masses. The line will be completely different from my previous Ryndia/ethnic collections which I created under the fashion house. It will be launched in a couple of months from now.
On work ethics
The first and foremost thing for me is keeping the client happy. I’m a perfectionist, so I always make sure that we meet the deadline and that the technical aspects such as the finishing of the garments are on point. All these things are very important to keep the plan going.
Evolving as a designer
I started the ‘Daniel Syiem’s Ethnic Fashion House’ with my business partner, Janessaline Pyngrope, and our dream was to take the story of ryndia to the world. We’ve showcased in places such as New York and Italy and at prestigious institutes like the WIPO in Geneva and the Nehru Centre in London. Wherever we’ve gone, we have always had a good response to the ryndia fabric. The culture and the story behind it make it different and unique to people outside of India.
Ryndia & other fabrics
A lot of people have asked me about how hard it is to work with the ryndia fabric due to its limits in terms of colour and patterns. But for me it has always been a spiritual connect with the cloth and I’m always able to come up with new ideas.
We also work with other fabrics such as cotton, linen, satin and silk. It all depends on what the client wants. The ryndia label is a different thing that I do with the fashion house and just recently Janessaline and I opened a showroom called ‘The Store’ in Laitumkhrah that mainly deals with sustainable clothing and local fabrics.
We work with a fabric that’s 100 per cent natural. So if we work with a garment I would want that garment to be 100 per cent natural too. For example, when it comes to fasteners, I would not want to use a metallic zipper or something which is not organic on that garment. It makes sense for me to work alongside with local producers who make wooden or bamboo buttons. It also gives a whole different aesthetic to the garment.
On fashion as profession
When I first started, there were hardly any designers around. There were boutiques but no designer labels. Over the years I’ve seen it all grew rapidly around Meghalaya. The setting up of NIFT in Shillong is another sign of fashion being taken seriously here in our city. Many young people have asked me about taking designing as a career. Now, through this production house, we are taking in interns and training them for two-three months and based on that we employ them.
It is always about passion. The competition is fierce nowadays but if you keep a passion for the art and work hard towards your dream then you’ll get there. I feel like these are the basic ingredients for truly making it.
On street fashion & social media
I see a lot of pages on social media which cater to street wear. But I also see, in terms of style, that a lot of young people carry off couture pieces and wedding gowns. Shillong has always been famous for street wear and people have stated that it’s one of the best places for street wear in the country.
Social media can help you through a great extent but also to only some extent. There are a lot of cases of people not showing who they are in person on social media. I think that if you want to promote yourself through social media, you just have to be true to yourself. Be who you are, follow your dreams, live life to the fullest, be happy because that’s what matters at the end of the day.