Manish Malhotra has always been known for being Bollywood’s favorite designer in various interviews. Manish Malhotra is known for redefining Indian textile, empowering regional craftsmanship, and blending traditional silhouettes seamlessly with contemporary styles. The Fashion Enterprise takes you through an exclusive conversation with Manish Malhotra.
1. Having completed over 29 years in the fashion industry, how do you keep up with churning out new collections, along with staying intact to your brand aesthetics?
It is important to observe and notice how the world is changing around you. The world is evolving at a fast pace and one would have to have a blindfold over their eyes to not notice it. I have always been a believer of evolving with time as change is the only constant. In a world today where the consumer is so well-informed, you have to constantly think ahead of the upcoming season and deliver it before it is demanded. It just requires a keen sense of observation and hard work, which, both, which I believe in. Once you have that in place, you need to always be true to the foundation of your brand. Manish Malhotra is modern, glamorous and caters to all women of today and that is always represented in any of my collection.
2. At a time where collaborations are the next big thing in the fashion industry, what is a make or break point for you when you decide to collaborate with a brand?
Collaborations in the world fashion today are indicative of a whole new shift in the business of fashion. The boundaries between two brands are becoming increasingly permeable and certain collaborations should happen if there is a genuine interest from both sides and a real exchange benefiting both the brands. For me, collaborating with a brand would mean having shared values & goals. These tie-ups could have an immense impact on the brand. We must share the same ethos, but both should be able to bring our own signatures to the partnership to make a mark.
3. Being the sole founder of your label, and expanding your empire, while tapping into different segments like multiple flagship stores, Bollywood styling and recently having a strong presence in the wedding space, how do you keep up with such expansions?
Like I said earlier, change is the only constant. You have to keep moving forward. It’s about prioritizing. I’m not a fan of being complacent. I have always been a multi-tasker and am extremely ambitious. In anything that you do in life, you must grow from where you started. Taking on challenges is something that thrills me and I do it with utmost passion and love. So, whether it’s designing costumes for the movies, a new collection for my label, curating the weddings or even giving time to the Manish Malhotra Beauty, I give equal importance to all the departments of my company.
4. How do you manage your team? What does a day in Manish Malhotra look like?
No two days are the same in my life. I wake up as early at 6.30am and plan my day. I am constantly on the move. Some days we are working on costumes for a movie or working on the latest collection. Other days, I might be at fittings for my show, traveling to my other store in Delhi and Hyderabad or planning a high-profile wedding. I have team meetings every day. If there are not happening face to face then they are happening on a video call. In any case, I am very connected with my team and abreast on everything that is happening in every department. I am very accessible to my team can reach me at any time of the day which makes managing quite doable.
5. How important is having a business mindset even for a designer like yourself and how does it come into play?
Once the designing & planning is done for the day, comes the business side of it. Just creating the clothes and making them is not enough, one needs to acquire a business acumen to know how exactly to present them to the consumers. I haven’t had any formal training in designing but my love and fascination for clothes brought me where I am in life. The same goes for the business. Having a business mindset is extremely important in order to enhance your creativity. Loving and accepting challenges in my day to day life has taught me along the way. I learned the business of it on the job and grew it to reach this level. Fortunately, I, also, have a supportive family that works with me and looks into the ancillary functions of my business.
6. With the fashion industry saturating every day with numerous labels, what advice would you give to emerging brands to create a label to sustain itself for over 7-10 years?
Find your genre and own it. Know what your target market is and concentrate on that. Understand what your vision is and be willing to work hard. Success doesn’t have a definite recipe but surely you will reap the benefits of it if you are willing to work towards it. In the end, if your product is all that you represent and you keep updating yourself, you will do well, no matter what.
7. How essential is formal education in fashion designing while launching your label compared to when you launched your label?
I do think that having an education gives you the theoretical knowledge which is always empowering. But no amount of education can help you if you don’t have the passion for it. Not every skill you use here can be learned, some need to be inherent or self-learned. When I decided to launch my label, it was after years of already being in the fashion industry for the movies. I learned a lot and the fascination for movies honed my skill further so by the time I did launch my label, I had already learned what to do and what not to. I still continue to learn that on a daily basis. That kind of education you only get on the job.
8. What do you look for in a candidate when making them a part of your team?
Passion for the job! I look at the youth of today and many times I feel that they are hard workers, aced their courses but lack that passion. For me, passion for the job, no matter what it is, will always bring success.
9. How important is the business of fashion in the fashion space today? Do you think the Indian audience is getting more inclined towards the business of fashion by time?
The business of fashion plays an equal amount of role as fashion does. Thanks to social media and the internet, everyone is very well versed with what is happening in the world and the world of fashion is no exclusion. Business of Fashion is instant and the Indian audience is already updated on it. The consumer today knows everything about the outfit they want to invest in and that is great. Today when you quote a particular price for an outfit, the consumer understands the craft that has gone into it.