Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

30 Under 30: Karishma Shahani Khan - Desi by design

Karishma Shahani Khan turns heritage into her colour palette

Published: Feb 15, 2016 06:25:10 AM IST
Updated: Feb 10, 2016 12:34:30 PM IST
30 Under 30: Karishma Shahani Khan - Desi by design
Image: Joshua Navalkar
Karishma Shahani Khan dabbles with colours in leisure too

Karishma Shahani Khan | 29
Creative Director, Ka-Sha
Category: Fashion

When Karishma Shahani Khan was putting together her graduation collection at London College of Fashion in 2010, she ditched all the pastel shades and muted tones. She was asked by a classmate if her tutor, who had supervised her work, was behind her riotous colour palette. “She chose those colours as she is an Indian. It is inherent,” the tutor said.

Shahani Khan’s graduation collection won the best surface textiles collection award that year.

Six years later, as the creative director of her Pune-based label Ka-Sha, Shahani Khan continues to celebrate design and handcraft with varying techniques and material that meld as a whole. Her playful, vibrant and layered designs give the same piece varied looks.

With a strict no-waste policy, she upcycles the waste from one line and reinvents them as patchwork jackets, footwear and rugs for her ‘Heart to Haat’ initiative as well as accessories for her collection. “Even within our mainline collection, we always have a few pieces that are made out of completely recycled products and second-hand clothing. How do we use material in different ways and are not wasteful are questions that have always been on my mind,” says Shahani Khan, who also tries to include sustainable ethics in her designs using natural fibres—primarily cotton and silk—and some organic dyes.

During her internship with Judy Frater at Kala Raksha, a grassroots social enterprise dedicated to the preservation of traditional arts, Shahani Khan discovered her love for crafts, culture and all things Indian. “She had an intuitive understanding of aesthetics and form. When I reconnected with her a few years ago, I was delighted to see her fresh take on Indian textile heritage. Equally essential, she holds genuine respect for the artisans with whom she works,” says Frater, founder-director of Somaiya Kala Vidya, an institute for the education of artisans.

30 Under 30: Karishma Shahani Khan - Desi by design

(This story appears in the 19 February, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)