Internationally acclaimed and revered designer in India, Rahul Mishra is a global designer in the real sense. After wrapping up ‘Paris Fashion Week’ earlier this month, our fashion designer of the month took aside time for a discussion with Utsavi Jha, giving his two cents about fashion, technology, the future of fashion and a lot more to get any fashion bug excited!
Exhibit: How does all the popularity and acceptance make you feel?
Rahul Mishra: Globally, I feel people do have a huge respect for Indian craftsmanship, and I am extremely proud and honoured to be able to represent my country internationally. It has been incredibly challenging to create something with the traditional crafts of India and is yet simultaneously very universal, so as a design house we are constantly trying to imbibe that quality.
Exhibit: You left your field of primary education i.e. physics to pursue fashion. What motivated this shift and why?
Graduating from Kanpur University with a Physics degree was not my primary choice. I always wanted to be a creative person; I wanted to be an artist or a filmmaker. I got through NID but being a science graduate, I was only qualified to study apparel design and that’s where my design journey began. Fashion found me, and I found passion for communicating my ideas through fashion.
Exhibit: Tell us about the various awards you have won and how that has impacted you and your career.
In 2006, while I was still at NID, I debuted with my first collection as the Gen-X designer at the ‘Lakme Fashion Week’. It was extremely well-received by the international and national media and was covered by the likes of BBC and Style.com. That was the first time I was acknowledged as a designer and the warm support from everyone was reassuring. In 2009, I was very ucky to win a scholarship at Istituto Marangoni, Milan. I was the first non-European designer to do so. It proved as a benchmark in my career. Living in a city like Milan, initiated the process of learning and observing things around me. That has always continued to stay with me and influenced my work in all my collections. Winning the ‘International Woolmark Prize’ in 2014 catapulted my brand and validated my work internationally. Life has a funny way of completing the circle, as in 2017 I was endowed as the ambassador of Istituto Marangoni.
“ People often misunderstand the relationship between sustainability and technology. Being a sustainable brand, we need to understand that the relationship between fashion and sustainability is ambivalent. ”
Exhibit: How has the fashion scene in India evolved and where do you see it heading?
Back in 2006 when I first presented my collection at a fashion week in Mumbai not everyone was talking about craft, tradition and textile. Now I see designers creating new strong statements with craft. So craft is becoming the focus of the Indian fashion industry with a strong emphasis on modern silhouettes and pattern making. The quality of product that we get from Indian craftsmen and weavers is one of our strongest assets, and we owe it all to the craft population. We are also privileged because India has got just the right combination of resources for a sustainable fashion system in respect to the environment, society, and product. I think in the future, fashion is going to evolve in a way where the importance isn’t only going to be given to what people are consuming. Instead people are going to be concerned about how their clothes are being made. In the last century, the fashion industry has been one of the biggest contributors to climate change. People are already asking questions about fashion. They want to know how their clothes are being created, how much livelihood is it supporting and the ethical practices involved. Fashion is definitely going to slow down as it has to be more responsible.
Exhibit: Rahul Mishra and Tech.
People often misunderstand the relationship between sustainability and technology. Being a sustainable brand, we need to understand that the relationship between fashion and sustainability is ambivalent. We are also working now with a new-age fibre, where plastic water bottles, that create a tons of waste everyday, are recycled to create the finest polyester yarn. I would scale myself at 5/10, as I believe that the line between fashion and technology is blurring. Having a Physics background makes me quite enthusiastic about the new age technology and gadgets.
Exhibit: Any tech you use for designing?
Softwares play a major role in visualizing our designs and bringing them to reality. We use a lot of image and design softwares such as Photoshop, InDesign and Corel Draw.
Exhibit: Best memory of your career.
Other than winning the ‘Woolmark Prize’, it would definitely have to be when I met the President, Emmanuel Macron at the ‘Elysee Palace’ in Paris, earlier this year. It was a sit-down dinner hosted by the President and First Lady, Brigitte Macron for all the designers who showcased their designs at the recent Fall 2018 season of ‘Paris Fashion Week’. He was extremely humble and I even had the opportunity of speaking to him.
Exhibit: Who is your favorite person to dress in your garments?
It would be my wife, Divya who is also the Brand Director.
Exhibit: Secret mantra in life.
I read somewhere that, “Make your hobby your profession and you will never have to work a single day in your life.”
Exhibit: One priceless piece of learning you have learnt during the course of your career.
Learning is a process which is ongoing. One always needs to practice their skills in order to improve as you never know when you might be in need of them.
Exhibit: One thing you’d tell your younger self now?
Do at least one internship before seeking a job or setting up your own business.
- Must have tech gadget that’s not your phone or laptop: iWatch 3 series
- Phone you use: iPhone
- Car you drive: Mercedes E class
- Tech bucket list: HomePod and a 3D 4K projector and surround system for my home.
- Most exotic location: New Zealand
- Go-to fashion trend: Black coat with denim
- Most overused fashion trend/trick: Cold shoulders
- One fashion trend you’d make obsolete forever: Extra exaggerated boxy silhouettes. It’s overstayed and now we need a fresh perspective.
- Advice for aspiring Fashion designers: It’s not just about being talented. Talent might get you a few rewards, but your attitude in life is what matters the most, especially when you’re a designer.