Design veteran Ritu Beri on Tuesday said the fashion world in India, like Japan, needs to model a concept towards traditionalism and still be able to cater to what the world demands.

Fusion is the key for the future, Beri said during a panel discussion titled ‘Fusion is the New Mantra’ at the Indo-Asean: Weaving Textile Relations Summit here.

“Japanese designers have created very strong corporate entities of themselves and they have not given up the spirit of Japanese culture. India is a real treasure trove of talent, creativity , ideas, passion design, artisans and craftsmen. We need to model a concept towards traditionalism.

“We have to create our own identity and create what the world is looking for and wants. It is all about being who we are but definitely respecting the influences that create a global presence,” said Beri, who has spent over 25 years in the fashion industry.

Beri was on the panel with Sarada Muraleedharan, Director General, National Institute of Fashion Technology, India, Charu Smita Gupta, Founder and former director, Mekong Ganga Asian Traditional Textiles Museum, Siem Reap, Cambodia and R.A Lal of Apparel Training and Design Centre.

Gupta, who has been working and exploring Cambodia for its weaves and spent time with the local spinners there, identified fabrics that could well be used and spun in India as well as Cambodia.

“One is lotus fibre and the other is kapok (tree cotton). In India, we have not been spinning tree cotton. We are just putting it in pillows and quilts, but there in Cambodia, women spinners have been using it a lot. It is not even so expensive,” she said.

Lal believes without fusion, survival will become tough in the industry.

“Fusion of western outfits and Indian wear is very important. We have a very close connectivity in India with Indian designers and Asean countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, Brunei).

“We have close cultural connectivity as many people from India have gone and settled in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia,” he said.

Lal also cited the example of the Cambodian Ikat and Ikat spun in Odisha. The Cambodian Ikat has survived since the times of the Angkor Dynasty.

He believes that the two Ikat weaving regions can do well if fused together.

“We have to give focussed attention to fusion wear. We have ethnic wear and western wear brands, but fusion wear brands are very limited. We can give focussed attention to fusion by putting up a fusion wear path. Manufacturing units can be out up, kiosks for freelance designers can be put out,” said Lal.

It ended on the panelists agreeing that fusion wear is a space worth exploring as it is attracting a number of consumers.