In an ultra competitive industry like fashion, what makes Aloka Dsouza stand out? A designer with a strong conscience who doesn’t just want to create beautiful clothes but also make women in all shapes and sizes feel beautiful and accepted.
Aloka was bitten by the fashion bug at a young age. Recollecting her childhood memories, she says, “Fashion is something that probably intrigued me since I was 10 or 11 years old. I was curious about how a garment is made, how it is designed and probably every function that is involved in making a garment. I would turn to the back of my school notebooks during class, to sketch out the figure of a woman and design clothes on her.”
Fashion is something that probably intrigued me since I was 10 or 11 years old. I was curious about how a garment is made, how it is designed and probably every function that is involved in making a garment.”
She went on to pursue her education in the field of fashion with her parents blessings who have always been supportive of her interest.
Explaining her decision to start Aloka’s Fashion Studio she says, “I realized that I chose fashion because I strongly believe that every single person has a unique style that they must adopt and not live by the “fashion rules” that are dictated by said fashion houses. After having worked in a silk fabric store as an in-house designer, I quit within 5 months of joining, to practice garment construction all on my own in my parents’ house. My dining table was my cutting table and I would sit day and night designing, making patterns and stitching garments from scratch, all on my own.I wanted to set up a good personalized service wherein delivery times are met and the customer is made to feel very comfortable through the whole process.”
I realized that I chose fashion because I strongly believe that every single person has a unique style that they must adopt and not live by the “fashion rules” that are dictated by said fashion houses.”
Aloka believes in ‘Minimalism’. Her designs are simple, stylish and versatile and they stand out because of their unique cuts and finish. Understated and elegant pieces made from the best quality fabrics set the wearer apart. She designs Indian ethnic, Western wear, as well as contemporary garments that are a fusion of the two. Her design skills extend to dance and theatre costumes also.
What makes Aloka’s fashion ideology even more unique are her firm beliefs. She stands by them and that reflects in her work. She supports local business by sourcing materials from them, instead of mass manufacturers. Despite being in an extremely competitive field, Aloka doesn’t waver in her commitment to sustainable fashion that doesn’t have an adverse effect on the environment and the economy. Large brands on the other hand by indulging in ‘fast fashion’ are making the situation worse. “As a designer, I feel it is my duty not to contribute to this mess and instead slow the process down and reduce the damage done,” she says.
She brought out a documentary titled ‘Needle’s Eye’ to challenge the narrow definition of beauty imposed by society and big fashion brands and agencies. “I felt terrible thinking back, and realizing that until then I had contributed to making a woman feel like she needs to be this perfect figure to be considered fashionable. I felt the need to contribute to a social cause and decided that on my next shoot, I would like to have about 8-10 very different people, differently structured, each one in their own personal and unique styles that suit them and show their personality.” She coined ‘#fashionbeyondshape’ to reflect her philosophy that fashion should be universal and available to everyone.
Aloka has a second love that she continues to pursue – Sports. Having been known for her basketball and footballs skills through school and college, she plays devotedly even today. In fact she plays football for an NGO for women, called Maya. Being a hard worker she manages to find time for both her passions that are close to her heart. “Fitness and team sport has given me a very strong sense of consciousness. It teaches you a great number of attributes that add to your personality. This constant touch with sports gives me immense energy in my career,” she adds.
Commenting on her plans for the future Aloka says, “The plan for the studio is to keep it at a manageable, minimal level of functioning, not get greedy and definitely not start a mass production business of any sort. I’d love to work towards creating awareness among people as to how they can play a useful role in society with their choices in clothing and the negative and positive effects their choices can have.”
She advises those wanting to pursue a career in fashion designing to be mindful of resources and come up with creative ways to reduce wastage, instead of adding to it. And also warns that it’s no easy task, “It’s a common misconception that the job of a fashion designer is all fun, that all one needs to do is design a bunch of clothes on paper and Voila! One needs to be able to stitch a garment or repair a machine or know how a pattern is done, source fabric and every other function well enough, to manage a successful business and to direct the people working for it.”
It’s a common misconception that the job of a fashion designer is all fun, that all one needs to do is design a bunch of clothes on paper and Voila!”
Aloka Dsouza is Bold for more than one reason. In a dog eat dog world, her dedication to her work whilst maintaining a strong moral code is admirable. It takes a special kind of courage to tread your own path, even if it goes against the tide.