The man behind the FolkCult – Amardeep Rabha

Interview with Amardeep Rabha - man behind the FolkCult

As the wave of funky T-Shirts again stormed the market, it needed some extra effort to stay above the others. With the unique ideas of FolkCult themed on our Assamese culture, not only did the youth embrace it but even big stars like Papon Da. FolkCult brought a new revolution in the market and made one’s desire to wear their pride possible. The easygoing, cool man behind FolkCult, Amardeep Rabha – in an exclusive interview with Creativica.

Hello Amardeep! Creativica welcomes you…

Thank You! (smiles)

Tell us about your educational background and what keeps you occupied?

Well I’m a Don Bosco alumnus for starters and completed my 12th from Cotton College after which I went to Hyderabad NIFT to study fashion designing in the year 1998. After grooming my skills at designing, I moved to Delhi where I worked as a professional designer and in the process learned a lot. I worked for over nine years there and then shifted to Bengaluru where I worked for a little more than two years. After that, I had availed the opportunity to join NIFT, Shillong as an associate professor in the year 2012. I have been working for some of the best companies in India with some of the best renowned brands like Zara, Gap, Bershka, Pull and Bear, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch to name a few.

Tell us about your childhood and your dreams as a child…

My childhood was as typical as a teacher-student (my mom is a teacher) relation would be. (laughs) More on studies, less on other curricular activities. But my father was very much into sports and by default I played cricket, football, table tennis, badminton and what not but never excelled in any form of these games. What kept me engaged back then was painting. I started painting for the t-shirt just like exploring a new medium to paint. Back then, hard rock was in. We grew up listening to Metallica, GnR, Judas Priest and reading Rock Street Journal and wearing black all the time. We were nothing less than rock stars back then (laughs)…I used to paint T-Shirts for my friends with those band’s cassette covers. I guess that was the beginning of my designing career.

FolkCult was a revolutionary idea and also attracted a lot of celebs. Tell us about its origin…

I had this idea for a long time. I sent this concept to CCD HO when they opened their store in Guwahati, but they rejected it saying they don’t do regionally based designs and will let me know if they ever do start.

The idea of FolkCult was to present the Assamese culture to this new generation in a funny and kitschy way. What else could be a better medium for today’s youngsters than a T-shirt? Almost we all wear T-Shirts here in Assam. If you come across any FolkCult T-shirt, it would say something about Assam, our way of life, the way we see life, some past rich heritage and the present generation in general – some are funny, some come with a message and some history.

What do you think of the competition in the market? A lot of new brands are lining up in the production of funky and cool T-shirts…

Competition will always be there no matter whichever time zone I fly to. It’s good in a way as it expands our market. And FolkCult being the 1st Assamese T-Shirt brand we get some fringe benefit too (laughs). At times, people also have mistaken other brand’s design as FolkCult’s! At present, the market is so vast that we have space for everyone and all these upcoming brands. I will be more than happy if we could start a T-Shirt industry per se here in the northeast! Wearing T-Shirt is very popular among northeasters and outside supply is mostly meeting the demands. I feel the regional entrepreneurs and designers should seize the opportunity and blend the need with a local touché.  So, I don’t take it as competition but rather encourages.

CONE is your new initiative. Can you describe CONE to us?

CONE is COLOR OF NORTHEAST. It’s more based on our handloom and handicrafts of this region. We are so rich with our textile, but it has not been explored and exploited well. The main objective of CONE is to promote the northeast textile product to Pan-India and probably for export as well later. I got this idea when one of my friend gifted me a shirt brought from London by a famous British designer Paul Smith. The textile they used so resembled our Assamese textile! It occurred to me that if someone sitting at London can make such products, why can’t I design the same and sell them back? Moreover, it will also boost our economy.

A girl in CONE wear

A girl in CONE wear

One of your popular designs is the ‘Khati Axomiya’ tee often sported by Papon. But, recently we have seen that the very design has been used by some other brands. Is that design copyrighted? Do Assamese designers face such crisis? What initiatives have you taken?

We have often found our designs being copied at many instances. It is a major issue of concern, but copyrighting is not a feasible option as fashion or design is very temporary. Say, if I copyright the design for a period of time with a certain amount, I don’t know if that design will last that long as a fashion statement is constantly changing. People demand new taste and that keeps changing like the society itself. I would only say that, stealing ideas will stay around as it seems, but what one could do is take permission or acknowledge it. Only the creator would know the amount of physical, emotional and mental toil one puts into the work. It’s just a respect for someone’s work that you admire.

Can you give us a peek into your creative team?

Basically it’s just me and my partner Dibjyoti Hanse. We don’t have any creative team as such.

Which is your personal favourite design from FolkCult?

‘Khati Axomiya’ of course! But I love “Nai Ki” too.

Haha! Well! So where can one find a FolkCult tee?

Well, Guwahatians can pick one from our outlet at Ambikagirinagar in Zoo Road. Also we have outlets at GNB Road in Tinsukia and NCR in Delhi. Take your pick…

OK! Now do I get a free tee for the interview? (grins)

As I said…it goes without saying (laughs)

Thank You! Creativica wishes you all the best!

Thank you so much for your wishes…let’s hope FolkCult and CONE will be pioneers from The Northeast in terms of fashion for India and abroad. Working hard on it and thanks again (smiles)

By the way dear readers FYI I did get a free tee!

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Spondan Bora

Engineering graduate, movie freak, writer.

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