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The real hard work starts now, says Rahul Mishra

After bagging the coveted International Woolmark Prize in Milan, Rahul Mishra, the newest poster boy of India’s fashion industry is ready to go global, and retain his, Indian roots, of course

From a tiny village in Uttar Pradesh to the glitzy ramps of Milan — Delhi-based designer Rahul Mishra is on a roll. Pitted against design talents from across the globe, he bagged the International Woolmark Prize. In an email interview, the young designer looks back at his heady trip:

Q. Tell us a bit about your background.
A. I come from a family of doctors. My childhood was spent in a village called Malhausi (Uttar Pradesh), where I stayed for the first nine years of my life. I have two sisters and I am the first generation in my family to enter the fashion industry. After my primary education, I attended boarding school in Lucknow and later joined a college in Kanpur to complete my graduation with Physics, Chemistry and Maths. My father wanted me to get into engineering or the medical profession, so I only got a chance to appear for NIFT and NID after completing my graduation. In 2003, I was selected for NIFT (Delhi) and NID (Ahmedabad); I joined the latter.

I first showcased my work as a Gen-Next designer in 2006 at the Lakmé Fashion Week, where I presented my classroom project on the runway; it was my first introduction to Indian handlooms. Then I won a scholarship to Istituto Marangoni, Milan, based on the same project where I had used Kerala handloom textiles.

Q. What does the International Woolmark Prize mean to you?
A. It is the highest point in my life. This win creates many possibilities for my brand and for India as a whole. This award will change the perception of global fashion with regards to Indian fashion. I am looking forward to showcasing my complete Woolmark collection in one of the premiere fashion weeks by next season. At the same time, the media attention is surreal. When I see the likes of Hillary Alexander (Editor, The Telegraph) tweeting about my win and Financial Times Editor Vanessa Friedman quoting ‘The Woolmark prize-winner is Rahul Mishra from India. Will he be the next Karl Lagerfeld?’ All this actually makes me more nervous.

Q. Along with the prize money, has it resulted in better offers?
A. The real hard work starts now, as we have to prepare for our year-long launches at important stores around the world. We have already booked orders for this collection with buyers like 10 Corso Como (Italy), Colette (France), David Jones (Australia), Harvey Nichols (UK), JOYCE (China), MyTheresa.com (Germany), Saks (USA), POLAR MODA (Turkey), including others.

Q. You are known for your love for handlooms, what resulted in this?
A. We started our label and company in the year 2008, with a vision of contributing to Indian handlooms; we have been continuously working on empowering and employing the Indian craft community through sustainable design interventions. In the process, we happen to take old crafts and weaving methodologies and create modern clothing for women, based on simplicity, uniqueness and effortlessness.

Q. Future plans?
A. I have to work like the brand ambassador for the Woolmark Company for the next one year. The process will include the launch of our collection at the biggest stores in all the fashion capitals. Then I have to plan to start showcasing at one of the international fashion weeks. But before that, I am planning to showcase this collection at Wills India Fashion Week.

What next?

Rahul Mishra is planning to showcase his award-winning Woolmark collection at Wills India Fashion Week.

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