India first style statement, Gandhi’s call for Swadeshi, a nation’s outcry to ‘be Indian-buy Indian- and effort to save her textiles from being decimated by the British Raj. Today, sixty years later, a similar struggle ensues; a nation of billion possibilities, cannot boast of a single label; swiftly losing her 10000 year tradition to neo-colonialism and her talent & traditions to sweatshops.Lecoanet Hemant – the Indo-French-German duo leave their Parisian power-position, following in Gandhi’s path to ‘Be the Change You Want To See’ working to develop India’s first luxury label
Can you imagine a country, where seven out of ten Indian youth, wear garments produced in their countries for a fistful of dollars, exported overseas, re-imported and then sold back to them with 200% premium!! Tagged and Taxed by western labels! This is the ironical shade of neo-colonialism visible in a country whose first style statement was Gandhi’s call for Swadeshi- a nation’s outcry to save her textiles and crafts from perishing at the hands of the British Raj.

Today, sixty years later, tech packs replace traditional design, synthetics chase-out silken skeins, India risks losing her 10,000 year traditions as belligerent bureaucrats froth with joy at outsourcing. A country of a billion possibilities cannot boast of a single international local label. Challenging the weak national policies a nascent fashion fraternity struggles to build local labels. Questioning why country’s minimal infrastructure fuels global retail, but doesn’t offer Indian designer’s the same retail and manufacturing infrastructure, a few pre-thinkers refute this servitude, opening upa visual dialogue using the fragmented Indian Fashion Week as a platform.

2001 –Indo-French-German duo, Lecoanet-Hemant return to India Shinning. Hoping to nurture the country’s first luxury label, they leave behind their secure Parisian haute couture address, putting their best feat forward in a country where light and power is often a luxury. Using their international expertise, meshing it with local graffiti; they create contemporary solutions for emerging India. Refusing to kowtow to outsource, battling socio-political corruption, they stir up awareness, set off aspiration hoping to shape cultural identity through ‘’Indiavisualism’.

Working alongside the regional design fraternity they commence on a trajectory of change. Setting up infrastructure, training talent, introducing labor benefits, enabling transparency, they put their life savings into creating solutions for an entire population sold to polyester and ‘phorigen’ (foreign) goods. Amidst this turmoil, a humane side shines through as Hemant rediscovers his roots and Didier his partner, a disciplined Frenchman continues struggle between myth and management.
Their everyday battles are epic, humorous and humbling in equal parts. Winners of the biggest international design award - The Parisian Golden Thimble; they have to re-establish themselves in India. Hoping to nurture the confused cultural identity, sold at the altar of imported brag & tag, they have a mission, Hemant uses elements from popular culture, creating ensembles resonating of Modern India. He dreams of creating ready-to-wear solutions at cost effective prices, supported by Lecoanet who designs this dream with blind commitment.

Following their highs and lows, unveiling how they survive in a country’s manufacturing structure sacrificed at the altar of ‘outsource’, we open a debate on governance. Why do India’s profiteering politicians levy heavy taxes on national brands? Why do they police the nascent fraternity? Why is luxury such a convoluted word in the country of Maharajas? Through insightful interviews with leading media personal and designers, seeking to understand the issues crippling the growth of local labels, we etch out a socio-psychographic snapshot of a country living out centuries of growth in less than 50 years.
Will this duo succeed in infusing pride in a country presold to western brands and bling? Will they be able to forge a brand in a country where they are refused retail infrastructure? Will they be able to adapt to the rules of this ‘Shinning Nation” whose social underbelly reveals over 50 percent of its people living below the poverty levels making luxury truly superfluous? Will any body be able to understand their vision and design sensibilities?

Shot Across: India/ UAE/ US/ France. Final Cut: Sept –Oct 201