People Shaping Fashion Business Space : The fashion industry is a whirlwind business that has transcended from making clothes to setting path-breaking trends. In today’s age, the fashion industry is relentlessly thriving on novelty and has opened its doors for many entrepreneurs who are channeling their vision to build their fashion empires. Launching and managing a brand is an undoubtedly daunting challenge. Not only it requires immense knowledge but also a sharp business perspective along with a zest of drive and dedication.
TFE has summed up 10 people, who beyond their entrepreneurial skills and undeniable passion for the fashion business, have carved out a successful niche in the business of fashion and are setting an example for many.
1) Rahul Mishra
Rahul Mishra’s respect for the provenance of materials, sustainability and India’s traditional craftsmanship led to the inception of his label – Rahul Mishra in 2008. His collection addresses social issues and his encounters with various skilled artisans who have been empowered. He is known for incorporating traditional Indian textiles and handmade artisanship to his work. Over the years, he has showcased his work at fashion weeks in London, Dubai and Australia. In 2014, he was won the International Woolmark Prize in Milan. His designs portray the brand’s philosophy – ‘sustainability isn’t just a desire, it’s a necessity’.
2) Payal Singhal
Hailing from a creative background – her grandfather, a renowned painter and her father, a fashion pioneer, fashion was a natural choice for Payal Singhal. At the age of 15, Payal, participated in a contest for Shoppers’ Stop and won the ‘Designer of the Year’ award. She then went to SNDT, Mumbai and Parsons School of Design, New York to hone her skills. She started her career as a fashion stylist at MTV and soon launched her eponymous label, Payal Singhal, in 1999. Her designs offer a refreshing twist to traditional Indian wear. In addition to her success with traditional yet modern collections, her brand has soared to new heights by dressing renowned bollywood celebrities like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor and many more. Today, the label retails from her flagship stores in Mumbai, New York, New Jersey as well as retail outlets in Hong Kong and Middle East.
3) David Abraham, Rakesh Thakore & Kevin Nigli, Abraham and Thakore
Abraham & Thakore is one of India’s most successful and respected brand for fashion, accessories as well as home textile. In 1992, two graduates of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Abraham and Thakore, founded the label – Abraham & Thakore. Their third partner, Nigli, a design graduate of NIFT New Delhi, joined them six months later. Based on the rich traditional vocabulary of Indian design and craft, their designs represent the synergy between fashion and lifestyle with a vision for the way a contemporary urban consumer dresses and lives. In a consumer world of mass-produced fast fashion, Abraham & Thakore reiterates the belief that real luxury lies in specially crafted product in limited numbers of high quality.
“We at Abraham & Thakore are always looking to find new applications for traditional textiles and ways to utilize these skills and take them to new consumers, as the richness of India’s craft tradition is unbeatable. The design sensibilities reflect the way we live in urban India, creating fashion and textiles rooted in our Indian identity yet with a contemporary and international take.“says David.
4) Tina Tahiliani, Ensemble India
Tina Tahiliani is the stylish visionary and the Executive Director of Ensemble, a multi-brand store which brings together a collection of beautiful garments. Started by her brother Tarun Tahiliani and his wife Sailaja in 1987, Ensemble, has grown from a single store into a powerhouse with boutiques in Mumbai and Delhi, under the leadership of Tina. Each piece of clothing, from fabrics, weaves, textures to colours, conveys its own story. The brand’s passion for championing and nurturing traditional Indian craftsmanship is quite evident in their bridal wear. Additionally, it is the first luxury store to create a platform for talented Indian designers to showcase their work. They have also launched the majority of Indian designers who are today at the helm of the industry
5) Ragini Ahuja, Ikai
Launched in 2012 by Ragini Ahuja, IKAI, which originates from Hindi word which means ‘one’, introduces traditional Indian skills into a predominantly contemporary collection. Their designs perfectly blend fashion and art. Ragini was first exposed to sustainable fashion during her graduation project at Pratibha Syntex, Indore where she worked with sustainable fabrics and organic materials. That’s when she realised the true definition of fashion. For her, fashion is not about the embroidery, bell sleeves or off-shoulders, but it is something that defines the prevalence of our social scenario. Her work, ‘The Ikai Space’, has been a part of three consecutive seasons of the ‘Lakme Fashion Week’ and Ragini has made heads turn with each of her collections! She also won the Elle Graduates award for the most promising young designers in 2014.
6) Radhika Bansal & Vedika Oberoi, Swishlist
Its conventional wisdom that expensive saris, designer lehengas and anakalis are better off borrowed from your close friends or acquaintances than spending your entire salary and keeping them in the corner of your wardrobe, for the longest time! Founded by Radhika and Vedika, with the mission to bridge all the barriers that stand between young fashionistas and the style they seek, Swishlist offers a premium rental service that makes authentic, high fashion designer wear accessible to everyone. Their mantra, ‘It’s not about owning a piece of clothing. It’s about owning the look, owning the experience and owning the night!’ encourages fashion conscious and financially savvy women to experiment with their styles and to be confident without feeling the pinch in the pocket.
7) B.G. Krishnan, eShakti
Inspired by the Sanskrit word ‘shakti’ which means ‘power’, eShakti signifies liberation from the size tag, it is about empowerment. Founded by B.G. Krishnan, eShakti, a fashion clothing e-commerce company, offers women the option of customizable sizes, as also standard sizes. Buyers can get the kind of neckline, sleeve, and length they require. At present, the company primarily serves the American market. Their site allows women to send their measurements, make alterations and the outfit is virtually created on the computer. It has been rated among the 100 most innovative companies in the world for 2015 by the Internet Retailer and has been written about widely in American media in magazines such as Glamour, The Oprah Magazine, Essence, Seventeen and many more.
What’s their philosophy? ‘It is not enough that clothes look good on mannequins. They need to look good on you!’
8) Arun Baid & Sonal Baid, Aura Herbal Textiles Ltd.
Arun & Sonal’s dream venture, Aura Herbal Textiles Ltd., reflects their love for the environment and defines their passion to work for it. Certified by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Aura, produces herbal textiles and dyes. It relies solely on organic colours to steer consumers away from chemical pigments. Additionally, it also uses solid and liquid waste is used as manure and to irrigate their farms. This not only allows them to be the producers of fabric that is completely eco-friendly, but also makes their process a reflection of their belief, ‘We Live And Dye Naturally.’
9) Subrata Pandey, Punarnawa Crafts
Punarnawa Crafts comes from a Sanskrit word ‘punarnawa’ which means ‘renewing itself every moment’. Founded by Subrata Pandey in 2011, Punarnawa Crafts is a venture that empowers women artisans by establishing SHGs (Self Help Groups) to facilitate education and create a livelihood parallel with their occupation. It has trained a minimum of 300 artisans in the span of 4.5 years. Subrata Pandey was not only selected by the Global Shapers Community in 2014 but also made it to Forbes India’s 30 Under 30 list. With the motto, ‘Think Global, Act Local’, Punarnawa’s work symbolizes the untouched culture of Odisha with the perfect blend of culture and creativity. Today, their authentic crafts and designs have become an identity for Odisha.
10) Chinaar Farooqui, Injiri
Launched in 2011 by Chinaar Farooqui, Injiri, is a label that works with hand-loom textiles for clothing and home. Her designs depict little stories about the textiles they are made of and the process that goes into their making. Injiri signifies Indian textiles that have traveled the world and have been a part of trade since many centuries. In Africa, a particular kind of woven checkered textile imported from the Coromandel Coast was called “injiri” meaning “real India”. It is an expression of beauty that lies in classic textile designs of the country. The inspiration for most of the textiles and garments comes from local dressing styles of rural India and other folk cultures from around the world. Today, the label is placed in over 300 stores across the world.