The thing about starting a new venture and ensuring its success has nothing to do with renting out a big office or having a lot of people on the payroll; sometimes it can be a great idea that starts out small but eventually blooms into something substantial, and stylish, as is the case of Shipen-Shisang. The brand was launched in August 2017. The name in Longsa dialect of the Ao tribe means anything worn to cover or adorn the body. The sisters who are the creative minds behind this collaborative fashion production house were born and brought up in Dimapur. Their native village is Longsa in Mokokchung district.
When she was young, Asang enjoyed making clothes for her Barbie dolls. ‘Growing up, I watched my mother do what she does best–stitching pretty dresses for us. I remember one time I had asked my mom to make me a ‘butterfly dress’. I still don’t know how she did it, but there it was. My happiness knew no bounds that day. With time, I started to realize how important a dress is to a girl.’ In fact, aside from Shipen-Shisang, she has her own fashion label named ‘Asang Lemtur’, which she launched about four years ago. The brand specializes in bridal wear, gowns, and dresses.
Tutu didn’t share the same fashion interests as her sister when they were young. ‘As a kid, I was known as a tomboy. I was never interested in wearing feminine clothes. I was usually seen wearing loose shorts, tees, and sneakers.’ But then things changed as she grew older. ‘Slowly, I started to become fascinated with fashion and individual style. It was amazing to see how clothes could change the way someone looks and how people look at them, if worn the right way. I then found myself expressing my style and thoughts through fashion.’ A freelance photographer, Tutu didn’t have any prior experience in this field but still wanted to start a label with her sister because she thought it would be an excellent way to express her creativity in another format.
Both sisters believe that fashion is a form of self-expression; they feel what you wear can signify who you are and what you believe in. ‘That’s why our collections reveal a lot about the lives of people who inspire our designs, including ourselves and our childhood days. We also love interacting with, and observing regular people in our day-to-day life, and that’s why our garments are mainly classic in design–that are suitable for both regular/daily wear and occasion wear.
If you have come across their designs then you would know that their creations are very minimalistic yet chic. And just because it may look simple, do not assume that a lot of thought hasn’t gone into every piece. ‘It is important to really believe in the product you are creating. So, we keep in mind to create things that are beautiful, comfortable and commercial. We also question whether we ourselves would love to own such a design, if we saw it out of the context of the collection.’
Their ‘Merry Daisy’ Spring Summer 2018 women’s collection is inspired by ‘industrious, charismatic, dauntless, energetic, independent, lively, gentle, and enthusiastic women of our society. As it’s inspired by these women, we also dedicate the collection to celebrate them.’ The fabrics used for the Spring Summer 2018 collection are cotton, linen and chanderi. The price range is between from INR 800 to 3600. ‘Our collection can be bought from our Instagram account (@shipen_shisang).’ In addition to that, the sisters also invite some of their customers to visit their home office whenever they launch a new collection.
‘The response so far is good. We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback and have been thanking God for this glorious privilege! Also, it might sound a bit cliché, but the journey that we decided to take wouldn’t have been possible if not for our dad, our siblings and a few friends who endlessly prayed for us and have been our support system, encouraging and contributing from day one. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by such amazing souls.’
This article was first published in Eclectic Northeast Magazine, in the August 2018 issue.