Ukhrul: Beneath the scenic view of the Phangrei Peak in Manipur’s Ukhrul district, the newly-constructed house of Asa Kazingmei, one of the most sought-after fashion designers from Northeast India in Bollywood industry, stands splendidly at Lunghar village.
Dressed in a comfy outfit all-in-black trademark and a unique head wrap, the Mumbai-based designer Asa Kazingmei is seated in his living room and is busy on his mobile. This pandemic has brought all his family members home.
Hailing from Lunghar village, about 20 km from the district headquarters, Asa’s affair with fashion started very early when he watched his father stitching clothes and doing other artistic work.
“I think that I got my creativity from my father, who is a carpenter, and since he was very good at arts and creating handcrafts, I got inclined towards the fashion industry. Although I was not doing academically well, however, the passion that I have for fashion stood me apart from others and ultimately led me to what I am today.”
This 31-year-old fashion designer tasted real struggle when he moved to Mumbai to pursue a career in the fashion industry. He completed his post-graduation from International Institute of Fashion Design (INIFD), Bandra in 2008. Today, he is one of the most successful designers from India’s northeast region.
“I was born in a big family of seven children, and with little income my parents had, we could barely make it to schools and colleges. And being the eldest in the family, I know my responsibility, and I wanted to do something for myself and my family,” said Asa.
“Although we were not well off, we want him to fulfil his dream. So, apart from the meagre income we had by doing hard labour, two of his sisters who were working in private companies in Delhi also supported him financially. That’s how he completed his fashion studies,” said Yuimi Kazingmei, Asa’s father.
Known for his edgy, aesthetic and masculine collections, Asa considers himself fortunate and lucky as the industry widely appreciates his work.
Inspired by the rich traditions and colourful textiles of the various Naga tribes, Asa launched his label called ‘Asa Kazingmei’ at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2012 under the theme ‘Immortal’. The collection, with vibrant colours and intrinsic traditional motifs, followed by sharp cuts and high collars, was the turning point in Asa’s career.
“That was my breakthrough moment,” says Asa in a gleeful tone.
It has been just eight years in the industry with six collections in his kitty, including one of his favourites EQIO (Each On Its Own) 2016 collection. His clientele includes some of the top stars from the Bollywood Industry. And to name some, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgan, Shahid Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor among others.
The young designer says the film industry is challenging and very competitive. “Stars have the option of switching designers; one needs to be hardworking and passionate, continuously update designs,” says the young designer.
Film personalities are often spotted wearing Asa’s customised leather jackets and denims at various events and functions; This has firmed his position in the entertainment industry.
“Fashion is within me. And fashion to me has to be comfortable and at the same time give you confidence,” added Asa.
The designer laments that despite the northeast being India’s fashion hub, only a handful from the region crack it as an established national designer.
“I think people from our region have a great sense of fashion and people appreciated it. However, to make it successful career, one needs to be hardworking, determined and passionate. Unfortunately, most of the people from the region lack this attitude,” says Asa.