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When designer Norden Wangdi attended a young leaders' conference in Kohima, Nagaland, last year, it got him thinking. "The thoght nagged me that fashion in the Northeast has been neglected for far too long," he recollects. This realisation paved the way for the formation of the North East India Council of Design (NEICD), which has Wangdi and his wife Aparna on the board as its founder members. "It is a private society that aims to develop and promote creative talent from fashion, accessory, textile and craft industries from that region of India," Wangdi explains.
Even though Kolkata is home to some of the most talented fashion designers, including Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Kallol Datta, the industry in the states beyond — in the Northeast — is yet to bloom. But the scene is likely to change soon with the industry attempting to make headway in that direction. The Spring Summer 2013 edition of Wills India Fashion Week (WIFW) had a special show by Atsu Sekhose that put Northeast under the spotlight. The first Shillong Fashion Week in October last year was followed by an autumn/ winter fashion fest in December in Tura, Meghalaya. From February 20 to 23, Guwahati will host the first edition of North East Fashion Fest (NEFF 2013) with actor Soha Ali Khan as its brand ambassador.
Mayank Jha, co-founder and director, Basics Concepts and Marketing Ltd that is putting together NEFF, points out that their festival stems from a need for strong synergy between the designers from the Northeast and from the rest of the country. "The handloom industry of that region is dying and local textile producers are disheartened. This event will encourage designers from other parts of the country to use these fabrics and also open up the Northeast as a new market," says Jha.