Shabnam Hussain a designer to reckon

Because, for Shabnam Hussain, life was a journey towards fulfiling her goal. And she did. She became a fashion designer.

Born in Jorhat, Shabnam realised in the early part of her life that her calling lay in dressing up people albeit in her own creations.
Armed with a degree in designing from the South Delhi Polythechnic, Shabnam set forth to prove her worth to the world. After working and training under experts she stepped into the real world to carve an identity for herself in the world of haute couture in the year 1997.

“Assam is a culturally rich state, and I want to spread our heritage not only across the country but abroad as well,” says the young designer.
“If the Pashmina of Kashmir can attain univerasal approval why can’t our own fabrics like Muga, Pat and Eri?” she adds.

Shabnam works mainly with the purely Assamese fabrics as well as other tribal materials. She likes to experiment by giving them new textures.
“The people of Assam may have got used to wearing Pat and Muga but in metros like Delhi and Bombay these fabrics have an ethnic appeal and therefore people swarm to buy these products”, says Shabnam.
Shabnam’s main market is in Delhi and she has to keep visiting the capital in order to sell her products as well as get raw materials. Earlier she used to buy her raw materials from Sualkuchi but the exorbitant rates that the traders in Sualkuchi demand has deterred her from approaching them anymore. She therefore prefers to buy her stuff from Lakhimpur and from Guwahati as the rates in these places are much reasonable and affordable.
Regarding the Guwahati fashion scenario Shabnam says that the people here are quite fashion conscious and are aware of the changing trends. “But the market here is not very promising, therefore a boutique would not be very profitable here as most of the upper class people prefer to shop for their clothes outside Assam” she adds.

Unlike other designers Shabnam prefers to pick and choose her threads by herself and is very particular about her choices. She selects the best quality products and then takes it to the weavers. “My weavers and tailors are very efficient and hardworking so I don’t have to rely on those in Delhi for my work” adds Shabnam. “But the primitive form of looms here are a drawback to her profession” she opines.

Though she concentrates mainly on the Assamese silks she also works with brocades and other materials. But the workers here are not familiar with the Jari and Tie and dye works, and for these she has to rely on those in Delhi, which makes the entire process a costly affair. All Shabnam’s endevours have been financed by herself which restricts her from expanding her area of work. But she is optimistic and feels that the government will come to her rescue.

Shabnam has also done a few exhibitions such as the DRDA show last year.

She had also participated in the recently held Miss Luit Contest where her model Doreen won the second runner’s up title as well as the Miss Photogenic title. Her designs have been highly appreciated for their unique concepts and designs. This young designer from Assam has designs not only for her fabrics but also hopes to take her products to the fashion houses overseas. And after Ritu Beri we surely hope that Shabnam sets the ramps of Milan and Paris afire with her dazzling creations.

By Rituparna Goswami Pandey