Designer gives nouveau look to jainsem

By Heather C Phanwar

The word fashion covers quite a wide spectrum — from street style that is unique to each city, haute couture to ethnic fashion. For city-based designer Elizabeth Marbaniang, fashion is to jazz up what is monotonous and give a smart twist to the traditional look.
“I found our traditional wear, jainsem, too boring and I wanted to reinvent and modernise the designs,” said the self-taught fashion designer, who is a gifted painter.
Marbaniang recently participated in the North East Fashion Show held in Delhi where the models sashayed down the ramp in contemporary jainsems designed by her.
Her traditional wear of different designs were showcased which fascinated the crowd. She said the response was positive and people looked at the jainsem as a symbol of elegance and class.


Jainsem is the traditional attire of the Khasis. But with time, it has got a nouveau look to suit the young generation. Now, one can find jainsem dress that is easier to wear. Also, designs and embellishment on the fabric give a unique character to the new-age jainsem.
Marbaniang, who has a natural flair for painting, uses artwork in designing jainsems. She is a well-known name in Shillong and outside.
“I purchase my fabric from the local market and also collaborate with weavers from different parts of Meghalaya,” said Marbaniang, adding that when she came into fashion designing, “there were only a handful of designers but now there are many talents and there is a healthy competition today”.
The designer in her forties asserts that the competition in today’s market serves as a challenge for her to do better.
Marbaniang can be as innovative and liberal while designing a jainsem. She can be modestly traditional or delightfully chic in her creation.
The designer said that she takes into consideration what her clients want to incorporate in their designs. She added that she has a better chance of them being satisfied with the output. She also keeps in mind her clients’ personality while designing clothes for them.
The prices vary as per the designs and she makes suggestions according to the clients’ budget.


With social media playing an important role in today’s world, Marbaniang said it has helped her reach a wider audience. Her Instagram handle boutique.jong phi gives an insight into her creations. Her boutique in Laitumkhrah also has a variety on display. “When I started my jainsem line, I did not feel apprehensive, rather I had a positive outlook and took it as a challenge,” said Marbaniang, who loves cooking and adventure sports.
Over the years, Marbaniang has showcased her works on several platforms like Miss Shillong, Miss East India and Shillong Fashion Week.
She has also showcased her designs during the inauguration of the Meghalaya House on Russell Street and also at the British Consulate, both in Kolkata.
“Every event has its own cherished memories,” she said.
When asked about the popularity of jainsem among millenials, Marbaniang said, “Jainsem is more suited for special occasions so making it an everyday wear is not possible for the youths. Jainsem is forever elegant.”

~ Photos sourced from Elizabeth Marbaniang

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