Deeply inspired by both travel and books, JJ Valaya, 54, has often journeyed into one of history’s most powerful empires, the Ottoman Empire. The couture spring summer update to his Fall 2021 line, Rumeli, continues in that vein with luxe saris and lehengas with pleated blouses and a sheer, jewel-encrusted drape. What is different, though, is his new bridge-to-luxury brand, JJV, fashioned from the eco-conscious Tencel Luxe filament yarn (derived from renewable wood sources). Priced between ₹20,000 and ₹95,000, and featuring saris and tunics for women and shirts and jackets for men, it is to be showcased at the FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week later this month in New Delhi.
Planning to partner up?
With his brand synonymous with opulence and maximalism, and now in its 30 th year, how does he perceive the market for ready to wear? I’ve always maintained that design journeys are evolutionary in nature so let’s see where this journey leads us, where we grow and what we do in years to come,” begins Valaya, who launched his online luxury shopping portal in 2020. “As of now the focus is luxury couture, home and JJV and there are several sub-sections - precious jewellery, consciously-made jewellery, footwear and accessories,” he continues.
While many of his contemporaries have forged corporate alliances to bring out easy-on-pocket labels, does he see himself taking that route? “This is the need of the hour because it gives a solid foundation to credible brands and a rather large room to grow in a completely professional way. I think it’s the best way forward. Yes, at some point, if we find a suitable partner, we’re open to taking this route as well. But as of now we’re growing internally and taking the brand to the next level on our own,” he asserts.
Ready for World of Valaya
Known for his extensive research and embroidery techniques, one wonders if Valaya ever feels the pressure of catering to a digital audience used to eye catching reels and TikTok. “Pressure is good if it leads to progressive ideas and there never can be stress if you enjoy what you do. Any good luxury fashion has to stand the test of time eventually, a perfect tribute to sustainability. The digital world is fascinating and a wonderful way to bring the world to your table. It’s important to focus on the positives of technology even though there are a whole lot of negatives that exist,” he says.
A fine photographer himself, Valaya was one of the early fashion designers to get into the home category, something others are only discovering now. One wonders if there has been a pandemic pivot for him. “Valaya Home has been our key focus area along with fashion and in fact, very shortly, our brand-new World of Valaya opens in New Delhi — a 10,000 square ft space over multi levels, which is equally divided between fashion and home. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on the home furniture and soft furnishing lines,” he informs us.
Something else he enjoys is having daughter Hoorvi style his shoots. “My daughter Hoorvi is freelancing with multiple entities as a fashion stylist. I am glad and it’s a big moment for me to see her now styling my shoots. I’m proud that she chose not to remain under my shadow but make her own mark. I remain hopeful that she will come into the brand and personally, I can’t wait for that day to happen,” he concludes.
FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week is from March 23-27.