From housewife to fashion designer

Designing has always been my passion, says Choney

Thirty-three years old Choney from Zhemgang is busy, trying to stitch Bhutanese cloth pieces and western fashionable cloths.

And when she is usually done, she would have given a modern twist to hand-made Bhutanese textiles by designing outfits that not only look chic, but also stylish.

Driven by her love for designing clothes, a mother of one child, Choney has devoted the past years to learning the art of fashion and designing. She showcases her creative works from trendy coats to other contemporary outwears at her home-based cloth designing industry, Twining Attire in Olakha, Thimphu.

“Designing has always been my passion,” she said.

“With no formal training in designing, it’s challenging for me to follow my passion,” she said, adding that watching YouTube videos to learn how to cut and stitch has really helped me.

Despite new in the business, Choney is making a living in Thimphu working with her passion. “I used to sell these creative contemporary outfits to actors and actresses, singers, modelers, and fashion lover youths. I earn around Nu 0.1mn in a year,” she said.

She shares that she started fashion work in 2021 with not huge investments. She featured home-western-designed fashion dresses in the recent Miss Bhutan Pageant.

She designs mostly gowns. She also designs pre-ordered party tops, shirts, and skirts. With no specific sketches, the patterns of Choney’s designs are ball gowns, backless and fitted gowns. Crop tops, mini-skirts, signature gowns, and some developing dresses are also others that she designs.

“All-season couture is offered at an affordable price, specially targeted at middle-income class people. In summer, I design thin and long skirts. Yathra and leather jackets are designed for the winter season,” she said.

Meanwhile, fashion designing is slowly gaining ground as a career in the country. It has not just caught the attention of the young, aspiring designers but also that of others including housewives in Thimphu.

“There is high demand for western fashionable clothes but there are no Bhutanese designers. Most of the fashion lovers do online shopping and a few buys imported fashion dresses,” Choney said.

Meanwhile, the fashion supply chain environment during the pandemic in the country witnessed tremendous increment in costs. The shipping cost of clothes and raw materials has increased.

Choney said that the cost of fabrics restricted the availability of western style designs. This has made the case for fashion innovation even more compelling and ethically pressing.

“Despite the growing trend, it is noticed that Bhutanese have to depend customarily on imported dresses,” she said.

She said that waiting for imported dresses consumes time and sometimes there are duplications and often the sizes don’t come as ordered. Therefore, she said, “Why can’t we make ourselves? I want to reduce overdependence in the global fashion supply chain.”

Further, as an emerging designer and for visibility of her creative products, Choney considers social media platforms to sell her products.

“It has become an easily accessible platform where anyone and everyone can consume and contribute to fashion; making it easier for users to become recognizable fashion figures,” she said.

She has a message that even Bhutanese can also design western attires. “If you love being creative and you are passionate about fashion, a career in fashion designing will suit you the best,” she said.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu