The ultimate guide to 2019’s indie designers from India


Every fashion week introduces us to a new wave of designers. However, considering the kind of investment required — from ₹8 to ₹10 lakh — many indie labels are opting out of the runway race. Instead, they’re looking for different ways of retailing, including social media, pop-ups and collaborations. Shahin Ansari, co-founder, MaalGaadi, says that from a business point of view, trunk shows and pop-ups make perfect sense. “It’s where the crowds are, and brands get noticed and make money. But for brands and designers looking to go national or international, fashion weeks are a great platform.”

With many coming from non-traditional fashion backgrounds, staying off the runway is a refreshing approach, says Shefalee Vasudev, editor, The Voice of Fashion. “I constantly hear the term democracy used in the same breath as fashion. This has broken down the fashion formula... even though unbridled democracy can sometimes affect originality,” she says.

A majority of labels today work with handloom and natural fabrics. Edward Lalrempuia, Fashion Director, Harper’s Bazaar, feels that the sustainable conversation is here to stay — “People want to be environmentally aware, and know where their products are coming from. But designers can move away from the organic, loose silhouettes [that have been trending]. Representing these signature looks can be tricky, especially when the labels are dependant on social media. Pernia Qureshi, founder, Pernia’s Pop-up Shop, says, “A good lookbook is key. Most indie brands use fabrics and silhouettes that are beautiful, but often don’t photograph as well as structured garments. Stylists and photographers should be mindful of this.”

But have we reached a tipping point? Malika Verma Kashyap, founder of digital publication Border & Fall, believes we are “at that apex moment where there is just too much of the same... someone is going to take a radical step and break away. So, we can look forward to innovation within handloom and embracing other types of materials. Mill-made fabrics have their own space and use, and can do things that handloom cannot.”

So what does it take to make it as an indie designer today? Vijendra Bhardwaj, former fashion director at GQ, says candidly, “A functioning left brain, an understanding of business, finance and networking. And yes, a reasonably thick skin!”

Swipe through to see the multi-designer stores, pop-ups and campaigns to identify the brands to track this year.

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