"Bridal wear must be subtle, elegant"
A celebrated name in the Indian fashion world, Narendra Kumar, endearingly referred to as Nari, began his career by working with veteran designer Tarun Tahiliani. Now, after nearly two decades in the industry, the designer has created a niche for himself with modern cuts and Western appeal. In the second of our Looking Forward 2013 series, Ruchika Kher listens in, as Nari plays forecaster for India's fashion landscape in the coming year
2012 is coming to an end. In terms of work, how did this year fare for you? Are you satisfied?
It was a significant year for me because I launched my bridal line this year. It was a very important step for me, and it started off in a really wonderful manner, so I’m hoping that it will take its own dimension.
After being a part of the industry for years together, what prompted you, finally, to launch a bridal line?
There have been brands in the market for over 10 years that have grown but haven’t evolved. The Swarovskis and the crystals are there, but an alternate was needed for the market, and hence I feel it was the right time for my kind of sensibility, which is sort of Western. I wanted to create something for the modern Indian woman, a new age bride — someone who has destination weddings, travels the world, understands international fashion and wants her clothes to echo that sensibility, not necessarily a 100 per cent traditional bride. Over the last decade or so, bridal clothing has gotten more heavier, such that on the day of the wedding, when the bride should be looking like a super model, she ends up looking like a box surrounded by crystals. That’s why I felt that this is the right time for my line, which would be different.
What are the changes that you’ve witnessed in the industry in all these years?
The fashion cycle has collapsed. It has become much shorter, faster; people want newer stuff, more quickly. The fact that the consumer is more aware of both quality and trends is changing things. It is good — it makes the designer work a little harder and helps him/her be on top of things. Competition has increased a lot, and a whole lot of younger designers are coming in and showcasing their work. The market is expanding, which is great.
It started off as just one and now, almost every city has its own fashion week. Many designers feel it’s not good for the industry. What is your opinion?
I don’t think it’s bad for the industry. It improves awareness about fashion. Because of the number of fashion weeks in small towns, there have been more opportunities for people out there. I don’t know why anybody is complaining? When and if you don’t have faith in your own clothing, is when you tend to complain. But if you know what you are doing, and you are secure, you’ll realise that it increases the value of good designers. Talent surfaces, whether it is models, makeup artists or choreographers — it is great. It is creating employment, it is generating work. What is wrong?... I don’t get it.
Do you feel that since there are more platforms for upcoming designers nowadays, anyone and everyone is entering the industry, irrespective of talent?
It is still far better today than it was in the 1990s, when housewives were getting into making clothes. Today, there are thousands of design students from across India, who have at least, some basic knowledge of fashion. Also, the more the merrier — it’s a positive thing.
Looking Back 2012
>> Lace was a hit with both Indian and international celebrities sporting the trend
>> Shillong Fashion Week, North East’s first fashion week, connected the area with the rest of India’s fashion industry as several north-eastern designers made their presence felt.
>> Emerging designers manage the show at the Mumbai Fashion Week.
>> Neon colours made heads turn.
>> Focus on eco-friendly fabrics and traditional Indian crafts.
>> Manish Malhotra pulling out from the grand finale show of the Mumbai Fashion Week at the last moment.
>> Indian designs being sold at lesser rates on online portals (Delhi-based designer Namrata Joshipura’s design was sold at a portal
l99labels.com at a lesser price without her knowledge).
>> Drop waist dresses and mesh crop tops are not hot anymore; ladies, look elsewhere.
Look out for: Masaba Gupta, Kallol Datta and Atsu
Best dressed in 2012
>> Kangna Ranaut — for her bold and experimental avatar
>> Priyanka Chopra — for being elegant and smartly turned out, always
>> Sonam Kapoor — for putting the quirk into fashionable