North eastern names of an Indian identity: actor and fashion designer Asenla Jamir

Asenla-Jamir

Fashion and showbiz might be invariably related two somethings on the spectrum of public expression but style isn’t the only consideration that has come to characterise such sensibilities of late. The thrust is as much upon other not as asserted but traditional still workings of wearing, particularly finding expression within the native unfurling of identity. And yet it is more a modern day prerogative that fashion of this accord essentially emerges as, impressed upon the arisings of a world more than ever in need of such ‘benevolence’.

Flowing from the coffers of creativity of a lady well versed in this dual mode of existence of sustainability being as vital to style as style is to showbiz has been one experience of such bearing that honours the essence of both forms of art. Art indeed is fashion in all its unfurling; no less it is art again to weave ethics into aesthetics and young artiste Asenla Jamir of Nagaland is one of those proud in her laying claim to either arena of existence.

One might know her as the central ‘plot’ itself of the 2020 film Axone of a certain very integral north east connect. But for Asenla Jamir, the identity of her person has more been a case in curating than in emoting what has been curated. A fashion stylist and designer with a Bachelor’s in Fashion Communication from the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Design, Mumbai, Jamir has always had a keen sense of this aspect of her numerous interests. Even as a teenager she had been ardent in her passion for fashion- something she believes might have been evoked in her curiousness from the chic style of her mother. A fashionista indeed and one who flaunts not just her own style in person but also extends that realm of her fashionable recognition for others to discover, the 28 year old personality sees therefore her sartorial senses take over the world with her brand Otsü Clothing Co.

The founder and creative director of the 2020 launched label, Asenla’s fashion exploration through this route of choosing is one very identifying of her being and not just in the character of what would emerge as stylistic standouts. Much interestingly instead, Otsü happens also to be an ode almost to her Naga roots and in a very conscious way of presentation as well. Born and brought up in the neighbouring state of Assam, Jamir’s return to her homeland marked indeed the beginning of a journey that synced more in favor of her residing in the Naga heritage.

Having completed her secondary education in liberal studies and her graduation in design and visual communications from the Patkai Christian College in Dimapur of Nagaland after which she ventured out to receive formal training in fashion at the country’s premier fashion institute, Asenla Jamir found her calling to be one emanating from the rich trousseau of what marks the vibrant assertion of her state. Evident in the vivid reds and whites of its traditional attire, the fashion parlance of the state is one of much uniqueness indeed. Excited by a prospect in unravelling by herself such curious elements nestled in a place that she originally belongs to, the young talent chose to devote therefore her creative faculties in eking out such designs and styles in fashion that would bring upon her that expression in individuality she owes so much to her ethnically Naga identity.

In fact so sure had been Jamir in wanting to ‘pursue’ the beauty of Nagaland through her work that she settled upon the region as her choice of research during graduation. She researched specifically about two of the state’s tribes namely the Konyak and the Chakesang, extensively travelling across the length and breadth of Nagaland to avail such information that would be authentically accurate. And out of this immersive dive into the confines of a land that had always been her own but not so much experienced by her would emerge her first fashion project ‘Nao Mei – Land Of Warriors’. Nuanced in its imbibing the esteemed essence of the traditional while fusing still elements of contemporary style, Jamir ended up creating a fashion story that would continue to direct the course of her future endeavors in every show of style.

Naturally then, when the proud Naga youngster set about translating into reality her dream of curating a fashion line of her own, it would be this facet of her identity that would find first unfurling. And thus she branded Otsü Clothing Co as her very personal expression of style but concentrated also in such areas of dwelling that went over and above this passion for design and fashion. Instead, Jamir conceived Otsü as a sustainable venture that would flaunt only such aesthetics that falls in place with the consideration of the ethics.

And yet, her daringness to go beyond the showcases of mere style isn’t the only element that makes her interpretation in fashion design come across as striking. Equally sure had been Asenla about her own sensibilities in sensing out such style that would make statements, even when not living through the trends of the times. Trendy indeed even when not adhering to the seasonal fads and very flamboyant therefore in allowing the liberty of individual style to find expression has been the consciousness in which Otsü Clothing Co has since charted identity, as a venture that has made it count in merely a couple of years of its emerging.

That Otsü Clothing Co emerged from the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic to see its launch in mid 2020 already had Asenla Jamir fiddling with quite few dimensions of risk. As a brand that speaks fashion exclusively in terms of upcycling already used items of clothing, the taking off of this remarkable venture after quite some delays induced by the global spread of the virus was a confrontation in itself. Launched at a time when the world was more conscious than ever of where every single item of use came from meant that Otsü was directly plunging into waters of an unfathomable depth. But even when founder Jamir herself was aware of this reality and skeptical therefore of that timeframe in seeing her ambitious ‘style’ unfurl, it would be once again an alternative situation induced by the pandemic itself that would create new avenues of working for this idealistic pursuit of fashion.

The world situation then might have been one of unprecedented turmoil but it had been this universality of the proposition itself that lend itself well to Otsü, much like any other. With even many big brands running out of business and also the feasibility of accessing their products in a world not yet fully opening up continuing to be inconvenient, second hand clothing or rather upcycled and recycled fashion and most importantly local brands came to find acceptance. That the garments and apparel so produced were anyway sanitised thoroughly had innovative ventures like Jamir’s scout even greater prospects in emerging to be the fashionable entities that they essentially are.

Beyond this emerging out of adverse circumstances and despite its prevalence therefore, Asenla’s perception in fashion has been a case in captivating curiousness. Otsü Clothing Co isn’t just an entrepreneurial pursuit for its founder of multidisciplinary leaning in the arts. It is first and foremost an expression of her artistic vision and one that spans out as such in its very name itself. ‘Otsü’ means ‘stories’ in the dialect of Nagaland’s Ao tribe and Jamir’s brand evoke this reference in art to tell the tale of how each of her upcycled representations in fashion draw intricately upon the many elements of what shapes up the cultural identity of the 16 main tribes of the state.

And so it flows out as a narrative indeed of the vibrant allure of this part of the north east Indian identity, the curations of which Otsü Clothing Co. has endowed creator Asenla Jamir a unique reputation in. Unique though it might be only in context of how rare ethics happen to be in the fashionable considerations of a world equating style with status. Thankfully though, it is young, enterprising minds like Jamir’s that has been vouching for sustainability to be as feasible a strand of what makes up the fashion fiber. But even in her definitely deserving acclaim in fame, such consciousness of Jamir is something that she inherits indeed from the very identity of which she stems.

Asenla-Jamir-Actress
Source: The Wiki

For the many ethnic identities that shape up north east India as a very unique part of the country, buoyant in its expression through different alleys of the natural world, environmental awareness has been a way of life. As something that is imbibed in their psyche, this desire in upholding the world of nature while coexisting with the flair and flamboyance of the modern times came naturally to Jamir. As someone who had witnessed first hand the attractiveness of the more than a single use intention of fashion, her approach in the ‘one-piece-item-only’ has led Asenla to depict such design in style that honors indeed such multifaceted riches of the identity she has always been so keen to present.

For all her efforts in building up a consciousness in fashion being as possible to flaunt also in terms of the sustainable, Asenla Jamir has come to receive much attention. With Otsü Clothing Co claiming the coveted distinction of being the winners of the Grazia Young Fashion Awards 2021 in the sustainable category within just a year of its public presence, the fashion designer has managed to establish her case in fashion as not needing to adhere to the ‘inescapable’ trap of mass production and environmental wastage. That this mode of strutting about in second hand style happens also to be a reasonable fashion option without having to be limited in exploring the dynamics of this form of self expression is what has motivated Jamir even further to work her way up to emulating each of her ethical beliefs.

With also the additional consideration in promoting the indigenous textiles of North east India, particularly that of the many Naga identities, Jamir treads therefore a trail of overlapping interests. Her consideration in style and sustainability as a composite something means also that her offerings through Otsü happen to be exclusive specimens of representative fashion. Upcycling vintage and thrifted clothes that she handpicks is what Jamir attends to in all exclusivity, employing Naga textiles and rescued fabrics for this purpose in spinning out such sustainable items of fashion that are each available in only one single creation of them.

With ethnic Naga design finding expression upon western vintage wear to take the shape and form of everything from shirts and skirts and pants and dresses to blazers and jackets as well, what emerges is a very cosmopolitan collection that fuses in much dramatic design very traditional elements of cultural identity and folkloric history with modern musings to breathe a feel of contemporariness into every item of defining. And this sums up pretty much the entire fashion aspirations of Otsü Clothing Co. and that of its creator Asenla Jamir in what is however just one aspect of her dynamic personality.

asenla jamir
Source: ScoopWhoop

An artiste indeed across other leanings of interest is Jamir who identifies at once as being also a model and actor while occurring equally popularly as a singer. One of the singers of The Birds and Bees Talk theme song Let’s Talk About It, Jamir however started out through appearance in many television and print advertisement. Modelling is what led her to be featured in the international fashion magazine Ellements in its 2019 edition before she made it matter as an actor in Axone. Her stint as an entrepreneur might be still more noted in her slow fashion venture but it also is a talent agency that occupies place on her diversely composed profile. The co founder of Wildflower Artist Management that provides talents from her part of the world a platform to explore their interests, Asenla Jamir has only been expanding and extending her scope of identity continuously. Evolving therefore to be the kind of energy that she encompasses, in such passion that has her genuinely devoted to all causes of her ethnic identity as well as to every idealistic belief upon her ethics, this young personality of immense promise and even more perseverance is a ‘model’ also in the inspirational inclination of the term.