City-based designer Vivek Karunakaran talks about his latest father-child project and his style goals

While I wait for designer Vivek Kaurnakaran at his flagship store I glance at the pictures from the Father’s Day special photo-shoot he recently did. The candid shoot is a reflection of unspoken love between father and child with both donning similar-styled clothes. “We thought it would be nice to create a memorabilia for Father’s Day. It was endearing to design for the different personalities of not just the fathers but their little ones too,” says Vivek.

“With my experience in designing, I’ve noticed that kids today are like little adults. They are extremely particular about what they want.” He shares an incident where a five-year-old girl perched herself on a stool like a lady spreading out the fabric dramatically discarding what she didn’t like and picking out what she did. “It’s unbelievable, their sense of choice. As fun as it is to design for them, it can also get challenging because either we end up dancing in front of them or playing nursery rhymes while their measurements are taken,” he laughs.

The shoot featured a doctor, photographer and an artiste with the clothes styled to fit their personalities. While all the garments had the kids name embroidered on them, making it an excellent keepsake, one bandi jacket even had a child’s doodle embroidered on the pocket.

Vivek credits his success to his parents, especially his father, who instilled in him the value of working hard. “My father taught me dignity of labour and no work is small or big for me. I do not mind cleaning my store or house.”

Coming back to his design journey, does he himself swear by labels? “I tell my customers that you don’t need to wear my label to look good. I do encourage people to try my outfits but I don’t believe in labels. I think you can look good in anything that does justice to you and your body type with the right fit, fabric and colour. It could be a designer garment or even from Cotton Street but how well you use that knowledge is what makes the style statement.”

The designer, whose creations are edgy with an underlying timelessness, has always been vocal about his desire to see Chennai on the fashion map. “Since the time I came to Chennai in 1998, the city has come a long way in its fashion sensibilities. Today there’s lot more socialising. People have become adventurous in their spending patterns. The crowd has become more cosmopolitan.”

With styling for celebrities and trunk shows all over India keeping him busy, what are his upcoming projects? “I am going to retail in West Asia and hopefully in Australia and Johannesburg too. I am also planning to reach out through an e-commerce venture that I will be launching soon,” he smiles.