Ashly Noronha is a young and sprightly designer who coyly tells us, “My mother still thinks I’m 12 years old and totally dismisses it when I tell her that I'm twenty-nine,” when we ask him his age.
A hearty laugh later, the bright and bubbly boy from Dahisar, a far flung suburb of Mumbai, gets candid as we sit down to talk about his clothing line, Ash – The Unlabel.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of his designs, you must know Ashly was born with a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. And even though it might restrict him in certain ways, his enthusiasm and talent outdo that of many famous names in the Indian fashion industry.
Here’s what this affable young man has to reveal about his menswear label…
What background and training do you have in fashion design?
I hold a Design degree from the France based fashion school, Mod’Art International. I have closely worked alongside brands like Vesmi (Dubai), Nidhi Munim (Mumbai) and TheMissyCo. (Mumbai). I have also showcased my spring summer collection at the Olive Bar & Kitchen in 2018.
When and how did you decide to get into designing men's wear?
Where I come from, options for men’s wear have always been very limited. It all started with me wanting to counter opinions on the subject that not much can be done for everyday menswear. While preparing for my final year collection at the French fashion school - Mod’Art in Mumbai, I introspected on my own style and realised that I often crave a sense of drama when it comes to design aesthetics. This epiphany lead me on a crazy journey towards designing men's wear and eventually became part of my label's mission.
What technique and materials do you use to design your clothing?
Silhouettes are my canvas for style. I develop prints from scratch. These prints are usually bright, colourful and have a story behind it. Everything I do to achieve them is part of my technique which extends to my collaborators and team.
I use rayon, cotton, cotton satin and silk. I have recently grown closer to handloom and up-cycled fabrics and as well, to make wearable objet d’art.
What is the USP of your brand?
It’s the answer to the eternal question of every person who thinks, “Oh, what should I wear today?”
Ash The Unlabel is all about offsetting pre-conceived notions with fresh, quirky and zany prints that verge on being edgy while balancing effortless and classic style for consumers who refuse to be defined by gender-norms and other cultural orthodoxy.
Our ideal clients are bold, creative, passionate, ambitious individuals who are ever willing to take risks - especially in the department of self-expression.
What kind of man do you have in mind when you design your prints?
A man who is fiercely confident of his body and his sexuality. It’s hard to resist a person who really knows their style and has it all together.
Do you customise as well?
The prints developed by me can be customised for silhouettes that my clients are desirous of wearing. In other words, absof-inglutely yes!
Who are your inspirations as far as fashion designers are concerned?
I feel my creative energies greatly synthesise with that of the label Duckie Brown, Vivien Westwood, JW Anderson, A-Men Menswear. I’m greatly inspired by their supremely fierce silhouettes and edgy patterns. As far as prints are concerned, labels such as Dhruv Kapoor, White&Wong, Trina Turk top my list.
I love the fact that they could never be accused of playing it safe. The British fashion label - J W Anderson whose classic yet off-kilter approach to design never ceases to blow my mind.
Which Bollywood celebrity would you love to see, wearing your clothes?
I feel Ranveer Singh and Ayushmann Khurrana would do complete justice to my clothes and prints. They both have a particular confidence in their sexuality and style which is brave, edgy yet relatable!
(Ranjit Rodricks is a well-known fashion and lifestyle blogger who enjoys the finer things in life)