MEET THE DESIGNER EDWARD MONGZARCould you please introduce...
MEET THE DESIGNER EDWARD MONGZAR
Could you please introduce yourself and your brand?
Of course! My name is Edward Mongzar and I am the designer behind the luxury ethical womenswear label of the same name based in the UK. I was born in the North-Eastern state of Nagaland in India. Nagaland is known for its rich heritage and culture; it’s a melting pot of traditional and contemporary, with its diverse tribal communities and the rapid pace at which the state is developing and modernizing.
I have studied all over India whilst growing up and completed my MA degree in Fashion Design here in the UK, where both my label and I are now based. Under my label, I create luxury ready-to-wear handcrafted garments that are ethically made. I hold very strong beliefs in honouring the artisanal crafts from which most contemporary fashion has been derived and therefore incorporate two timeworn crafts into my collections; Naga hand loom weaving and marble hand dyeing.
What is the most important consideration when designing a new collection?
There are several factors that influence my design process when it comes down to creating a collection. One speaks to my desire to create pieces that are simple and feminine, I want to create pieces that are functional; I am a big believer in ergonomics and though I like to innovate with the crafts I use, I always aim to keep my pieces wearable.
Another factor speaks to my commitment to artisanal crafts and ethical practices. I design with my artisans in mind to continue to discover new ways to incorporate the crafts of marble hand dyeing and Naga hand weaving into my collections. My goal is to give Naga hand weaving a new lease of life and so I always keep my weavers in the forefront of my mind when making a collection. This factor also brings me to hand marble dyeing and my commitment to continue to pioneer the use of hand marble dye on clothing. Historically, marble dyeing has been exclusive to paper but with growing interest in marbling on fabrics, our label has been able to bring the mediums of marbling and luxury fashion together.
Your roots belong to India but you have studied fashion design in the United Kingdom. How do these different cultures influence your designs?
I’ve been very lucky to have studied and lived in both countries and through each of them; I have had my eyes opened to new cultures, new points of view and therefore a very unique outlook on fashion. The rich cultural background I have experienced growing up in Nagaland and several other states of India has allowed me to appreciate the beauty of traditional and artisanal crafts; whilst my time spent in the UK and my travels elsewhere in Europe have taught me to appreciate the rich history in art and culture. Amongst this chaos of information and exposure, I have found a very comforting balance in which I am able to express my design aesthetic.
You use traditional techniques to create your pieces. Could you please describe how do these fit to your design universe?
For me, the Naga hand weaving that I have adopted into my AW 17/18 collection is a part of my tribal heritage, it’s a practice that has long been a part of our culture, I grew to realise whilst studying my MA in Fashion Design that, if the craft were not re-purposed and given a new lease of life, it could quite easily die out. This is something that would not only be a shame for me, but for the whole of my community, it’s a vital part of our state heritage and something that is ours. That’s really what made me decide to use the weaving in a more contemporary way, so for me, the weaving is something to explore and also to protect.
Your luxurious pieces are created under sustainable and ethically conscious practices. Could you let us know about the production process?
We have taken great effort to ensure that every aspect of our production is responsible and treats people with dignity and respect. We employ several widowed women as weavers in my home state of Nagaland in India, the women have all been weaving to support their families and so we wanted to give them a steady income source to ensure they could do that with fair wages, safe working conditions and sustenance. We also make a point of letting them know that they are valued, that their work is appreciated and that we respect both them and their traditional craft of Naga hand weaving.
We also maintain this commitment to ethical and sustainable design through the production house we use. We went to great lengths to make sure that we worked with a production house which respected sustainable practice and maintains a commitment to high ethical standards. It has really helped to be working with a production house which is ethically minded and works for sustainability.
What exciting plans do you have for the year ahead?
We are so excited about our next collection; we will be continuing to work with lots of silk as we have previously. We will be focusing on really re-phrasing our SS17 in SS18, using a new way of marbling and with my belief in honouring traditional artisanal crafts, we will maintain our commitment to ethically made pieces and supporting our artisans, and finally a fashion week might be in our calendar. Keep an eye out for that!
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