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Fashion statements

Riches of rags


For Indian fashion, this has been a year full of celebrations and we all know this is an industry that loves to party. The year 2012 started with Ashish Soni's retrospective to celebrate 20 years in the industry and ended with Ravi Bajaj's party to commemorate his 25th anniversary. Many others too celebrated their silver anniversary including Suneet Varma, the pioneering multibrand design store, Ensemble, and Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla.

Though all the focus was on the senior designers, there is reason to believe that 2013 will belong to a new generation of designers. If seniors are the spine of the industry, it is the young 'uns who provide the lifeblood. Here are six designers whose labels one should keep a keen eye on...


Pankaj & Nidhi's label is not even seven years old but this husbandwife duo has already tasted commercial success. Their clothes are hot sellers in multibrand stores like Ensemble, Evoluzione and Aza. This year they were finale designers at the Lakme Fashion Week, won the Woolmark Prize for India which means they now show at the London Fashion Week in February 2013 and this month, fashion magazine Elle named them designers of the year. What I am looking for this year is a connect between their commercial and fashion lines since the two are quite diverse. Perhaps next year will see their fashion lines get the retail space they deserve.


Aneeth Arora's label Pero is three years old. Strongly rooted in tradition, her forte is layering and textiles. Her label has already had some international acclaim as she has designed clothes for Kate Hudson in Meera Nair's soon-to-be
released film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The winner of the Vogue India's Fashion Fund, she is now being mentored by Sabyasachi and for the first time will be showing solo at the Wills India Fashion Week in March. The collection will be a celebration of resistance techniques like ikat and tie and dye. As a part of the fashion fund programme, her designs will be available nationwide at Westside stores. With her style being so whimsical it will be interesting to see how she adapts to a mass distribution system.


Payal Pratap Singh is not an unknown in the world of fashion. The wife of Rajesh Pratap Singh, she has been the backbone of his label for many years now. At the last Wills India Fashion Week, her debut collection did not disappoint. The line called "Gates of Dawn" showed Indian techniques in an international outlook, a combination few manage to get right. Mixing kedias with palazzos and saris with peplums, the collection proved that Payal is a designer to reckon with in her own right. She opens her first standalone this year in Delhi. With her experience and the support she has in the industry, there is not much standing in the way of success.


Masaba Gupta has been all over the papers in the last few weeks. This 24-year-old has just been named the fashion director of Satya Paul, and will also continue with her own label. She already has two flagship stores - one in Delhi and another in Mumbai. She has a flair for colour, a love of print and a youthful take on traditional Indian silhouettes. This is why the match with Satya Paul sound like a marriage made in heaven. Of course we will only know how strong a union it is when she debuts her first collection in the first quarter of the year. The other question is: how will this young designer balance being the fashion head of one India's best known fashion brands as well as keep her own line alive.


Then there are two very young designers who have received much critical appreciation and it remains to be seen if this translates into commercial success. For Nimish and Yogesh, it is now about making retailers take notice of their distinctive designs. Nimish Shah's label, Shift is just three seasons old, and his take on fashion is refreshing. Shift is more a clothing company then a designer label. Shah has a quirky approach to classic silhouettes. Western in his approach, he has love for vintage detail and his shabby chic style has received a thumbs-up from fashion editors. While he managed to double his points of sale this year he's still available only at a handful of stores. It will be interesting to see how he gets his message out there in 2013.


Yogesh Chaudhary's Surendri is really just a baby, being just a year old. Still waiting to complete his post graduation in design from NID Ahmedabad, Chaudhary really is the new kid on the block. He showed a line called "Ms Pac in District" at Lakme Fashion Week which was full of knits, prints and fun saris. Just a few days after he showed, Sonam Kapoor was spotted wearing one of his designs on the red carpet. He has just started selling at Bombay Electric as well as Ogaan and is also developing a line for www. PerniasPop-UpShop. com. His next collection is inspired from the nursery rhyme, Dip Dip Dip, My Blue Ship.

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