Abacaxi Is Giving The World Of Fashion A Kaleidoscopic Jolt Of Colour And Culture

Abacaxi Is Giving The World Of Fashion A Kaleidoscopic Jolt Of Colour And Culture

Colour holds such great significance in art and film — From Kandinsky’s abstraction to O Keefe’s landscapes and Wong Kar-Wai’s sensory red/greens to Pedro Almodóvar’s pop art. Yet in fashion, its meaning changes completely. Western fashion is afraid of colour. It’s dominated either by black which symbolizes power and sophistication, or white which stands for elegance and class. Where did all the colours of the rainbow go? They got associated with primitive cultures; “something for children, savages, minorities, and women”, as David Batchelor describes in his book, Chromophobia which explores this fear of corruption or contamination through colour in Western culture and thought as a theory.

The same attitude made its way into India, which is known for its celebration of colour. Here neutrals, beige and greys are linked to luxury, especially in architecture and home decor. Check out the lobby of any 5-star hotel. It’s flooded with neutral hues, with maybe a hint of colour for the “pop”. The higher you go on the social status scale, the duller it gets. Neons are associated with rebellion and madness, whereas lesser saturated versions of the same colour become “rich”. Look for ‘classy aesthetic’ on Pinterest and all you’ll see is a sea of Beige, Sand, Taupe and Ivory. Beige has become the colour of money.

Here to destroy that notion, is South Asian-American designer, Sheena Sood with her brand Abacaxi. Balancing bold colour, handcrafted techniques, and an innovative play on traditional silhouettes, Abacaxi is named after the Portuguese word for pineapple, bringing the colourful splash and tang of the tropical spirit to luxury fashion.

“Throughout my childhood, we travelled back to India every few years to see family. That was where I first experienced daily life in saturated colour. Those visits gave me a deeper understanding of my roots, and exposed me to the richness of South Asian craft and design sparking an ongoing obsession with travel, textiles, colour, and pattern.”
Sheena Sood - Abacaxi

The collections at Abacaxi are a result of the designer travelling to Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, and Mexico, studying what she is most passionate about, and amassing an array of knowledge on indigenous textile techniques that she embeds in her design. Her collections include ‘Press and play’ with colour blocking and intricate mirror-work, ‘Stingray’ flaunting tessellated geometric prints, ‘Butterfly Effect’ with tie-dye designs, and ‘Fruit Nostalgia’ exhibiting vibrant colours in crochets created by artisans in Peru.

Abacaxi’s designs are the manifestation of infinite beauty in nature, which is abundant in colour. Its garments make use of traditional textile techniques from India and around the world like handloom weaving, mirrorwork beading, schiffli embroidery, and plant-dyeing. The brand works with ethical, small independent ateliers in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu in India, a woman-owned and operated factory specializing in knit and crochet in Peru, and with community makers in Oaxaca, Mexico. It celebrates the spectrum of traditional designs and cultures across the world.  Even the lookbooks at Abacaxi are kaleidoscopic in their representation of diverse ethnicities, championing beauty and gender nonconformity and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Sheena Sood is also a visual artist who works with patterns in the mediums of fibre, paper, print, mural and digital. Her synesthetic vision has elevated the brand in design while keeping it ethically sound. New York-based Abacaxi is energizing the fashion industry with its fearless motifs of South-Asian values, expression and culture while safeguarding heritage crafts. It’s giving high-end western fashion the chromatic jolt it desperately needed.

Check out Abacaxi's collections here.

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