Friday, August 5, 2016

Shailaja Neelakantan| Jul 27, 2016, 

Designer Ritu Beri presented 4 themes for the Indian Railways uniform

NEW DELHI: The nearly 1.3 million railway employees will soon don designer uniforms very likely made of khadi.

Fashion designer Ritu Beri, who was in May hired by the government to design a new uniform for railways personnel, presented a set of four 'themes' for the uniform to the railway ministry on Tuesday, PTI reported.

Beri's first 'theme' for the uniform is Indian tribal art. The second one is based on "rustic coins and currency of the 'golden period' of the country". It's unclear which 'golden period' Beri is drawing inspiration from.

The couture designer's third theme spotlights the legacy of India's erstwhile nawabs. The fourth theme showcases the "vibrant soul of India", which is defined as a fusion of "everyday elements of culture, business, music and entertainment", the report says.

Beri appears to be the go-to designer for government projects. In 2007, Air India hired her to give its crew a makeover. For the national carrier's uniform, Beri drew inspiration from Orissa's Konark Sun Temple. The colour palette was red, orange, black and white.

"The endeavour is to combine our rich Indian colours and motifs from the Sun Temple with the powerful and more modern combination of black and white in the borders," an Air India statement said at the time.

Employees can pick design

For the 1.3 million employees of the Indian Railways, the ministry has a more ambitious agenda.

"The idea behind the new uniform is to instill a sense of pride and belonging in railwaymen," a railways ministry statement said.

"Designer Ritu Beri will design uniforms for many of our employees including the station master, loco pilot, train ticket examiner and guards. The agenda is to get new uniforms for all employees who interact directly with the passengers," Railways board spokesman Anil Saxena said in May.

Beri yesterday suggested a competition to seek feedback from citizens and staff about which theme they prefer. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu will now consult with the stakeholders and the various railways unions.

"A committee will be set up to evaluate design, study different options, pricing and suitability," a statement from the ministry said.

Fillip for Khadi?

These uniforms will also very likely be in the hand-spun Khadi fabric, because Beri has often talked about promoting Khadi.

The designer is an advisor to the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a statutory body created to promote Khadi. If she chooses Khadi as her fabric for the railways staff's uniform, that would be a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' plan and will also showcase a 'Made in India' product.

"It's a grand fabric of India. I will try to give Khadi a makeover to set its foot in the global fashion scenario. Khadi is a breathable, comfortable and 'Made in India' organic fabric. However, it has never been considered fashionable. It was the powerful pre-Independence fabric of India and now we need to make it the fabric of the moment," Beri told IANS in an interview in April.


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