Saturday, August 24

When inmates turn models for their own clothing label

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In April 2017, around 40 inmates of Presidency Central Correctional Home started tailoring designer wear. They began their humble journey by stitching and cutting clothes and went on to make a handful of bags and shoes, apart from apparel. And now, what started as an initiative to motivate the inmates, has taken the shape of a clothing line — Parole. Not only will it be launched this month, this is perhaps for the first time that inmates have modelled for their brand, breaking the taboo of hiding their identities and emerging as the brand new faces of reformation.

Abhishek Dutta, who has designed the clothing line, said there are 40 inmates from Presidency Correctional Home and around 12 from Alipore Women’s Correctional Home working in his unit. “Parole is the temporary release of an inmate before the expiry of a sentence, which they get on the basis of their good behaviour. It’s when they can meet their near and dear ones and we felt, ‘parole’, as a word, holds a lot of promise. Also, the inmates get paid for each item. It’s a sustainable label, which has menswear, womenswear, pret line, Western, Indo-Western with lots of stripes, checks and interesting prints,” he said. In 2017 itself, Nawazuddin Siddiqui visited the correctional home to speak to the inmates and complimented them on their excellent tailoring skills during their imprisonment. But shooting with the inmates wasn’t that easy, as most were camera-shy.

The common notion is that those under trial must hide their faces. But here, a handful of people did their best to break all stereotypes. For the shoot, they underwent a makeover,” he said. The effect was mesmerising. An inmate called Writer, who helps run the unit and is also in charge of its quality control, posed as a tailor, while a Nigerian man, who had earlier modelled for international brands, carried off the clothes with elan. It was the same with the rest five men who came from different backgrounds. The shooting team comprised Anirudhha Chakladar (makeup) and Pinky (styling), apart from Abhishek. They used the many places and props within the correctional home — an oil mill, trunk-making unit, looms — as the backdrop for the shoot.

There are four segments in the clothing line. ‘Power dressing’ includes shirts, jackets, trousers in checks, while ‘Denimatic’ is about Pathani kurta, bandhgala, sleeveless bundi in linen denims. In ‘Prints’, there are printed jackets, bomber jackets, printed shirts, pants and bundis, and the ‘Indo-Western’ is all about jamdani kurtas with very little detailing, short kurtas, woven bundis and others that are all non-embroidered. The designer, who had a fashion show in Kolkata with celebs wearing the clothes produced by his Presidency unit, also took the collection to the Tihar Festival in Delhi. He now wants to extend the unit to correctional homes across India.

Aniruddha, who did the makeup, was bowled over by the show of talent at the correctional home. “They were extremely enthusiastic and came across as very poised and calm. I was amazed to see the way they carried themselves. It was a very warm shoot.” Pinky, who styled inmates for the first time, said they were the best models that she ever came across. “Generally, when models are in their attire, their personalities don’t shine through. Here, I taught them how to pose, where to keep their feet, how to use their hands and fingers. And their personalities came through in everything they did. It was so raw. When I said they needed to hold their pose for 15 minutes, they didn’t flinch. I said they could relax and breathe, but they were so diligent. Later, they asked excitedly if they should be working out. Barring one, the rest were not used to such an avatar and it was a big surprise for them,” she said.

The clothing line will be available online and talks are on to retail it through multi-branded retail stores in the city. Talking about the venture, Arun Kumar Gupta, DG & IG of Correctional Services, West Bengal, told us, “The launch of Parole is a unique initiative, where the affordable range of designer wear is made by the inmates within the walls of Presidency Central Correctional Home. These inmates have been trained by Abhishek Dutta and his team and are now skilled to make high-end designer clothes.”

 

Source: Times of India

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