Ruling the Indian fashion industry with his belief that fashion and luxury should be aesthetic Abhinav Mishra with his blend of earthiness and simplicity has made his visibility through bridal wear. Mishra who is known for his intricate embroideries and misty silhouettes started his eponymous label in 2014 and has expanded his territories across India and internationally. We have Abhinav Mishra in a conversation with Krishti Khound talking about his unique amalgamation of the dynamic contemporary world and Indian heritage that influences most of his collection
Exhibit: Fashion has its own language, what is your idea of it?
Abhinav Mishra: I aim at modernizing Indian craftsmanship by infusing some fresh upbeat aesthetics into traditional artisanal methods of creating clothes. With my designs, I combine the complex relationship that fashion and the country’s rich crafts share. My designs are a reflection of the budding new India which is colourful, dynamic, lively but elegantly grounded to their history and traditions. I use fashion as a medium to showcase Indian crafts and techniques in a new light, to achieve this I often use heritage techniques like mirror-work, Lucknowi embroidery and intricate thread-work in my designs. I try to balance the traditional crafts with fresh colours, silhouettes, and an understated young aesthetic to create Indian clothes that have contemporary relevance.
Ex: How did your association with the renowned wedding decor company ‘Rani Pink’ at the beginning of your career happen?
AM: I started my career in 2014 designing clothes for young women who desire a fresh outlook. I started out in Rani Pink, a wedding decor company, as a Co-Founder of the company with Anika Dhawan Gupta and that led me into starting my own label. I always loved the eclectic display of fashion at these weddings and how beautiful heirloom saris and lehengas were passed on and preserved for generations. As a child, I saw my mother’s trunk full of Banarasi saris and her heirloom pieces and that made me want to be a part of this heritage and create my own legacy. We essentially started off online and then opened up in Shahpurjat where we have expanded with my store called Leela, named after my mother. With online presence across the world, we have been targeting a lot of international clients and have aimed to keep them rooted in their traditions with my designs.
Ex: The bridal wear market in India is gaining a lot of recognition lately. How has it changed over the years?
AM: The fashion market was much smaller then and a lot of work happened through word of mouth. Today due to the digital age we face immense competition and also the consumer is spoilt for choice. Clients today are well informed and aware of what they want due to social media and that’s actually a great aspect of fashion today. Competition has made designers work harder and create quality products that stand out. Today’s landscape is far more exciting and it has made everyone innovate and create a lot more than before.
Ex: Based on your experience what does it take an outsider from a small town to make it big in the fashion industry?
AM: My experience from the fashion industry has happened largely in Delhi. Right after my education was completed, I moved to Delhi. And since I had designers as friends, families and local buyers in Allahabad, the Delhi industry which made a lot more organized for me. There is a certain and more organized way of running your store and all your e-commerce platforms. These aspects are a lot more structured. There’s also a much bigger market in the metropolis markets of India but I do believe the smaller towns are now catching up and making fashion easily accessible across the country.
Ex: Do you see style and design related as a concept? What drives you to design?
AM: I design for the young Indian woman who is a unique amalgamation of the dynamic contemporary world and her Indian heritage. With my designs, I combine the complex relationship that fashion and the country’s rich crafts share. My designs are a reflection of the budding new India- colourful, dynamic, lively but elegantly grounded to their history and traditions. I use fashion as a medium to showcase Indian crafts and techniques in a new light, to achieve this I often use heritage techniques like mirror – work, Lucknowi embroidery and intricate thread-work in my designs. I try to balance the traditional crafts with fresh colours, silhouettes, and an understated young aesthetic to create Indian clothes that have contemporary relevance.
Ex: You have said that you are sentimental towards Indian traditions, how do you blend your sentiments with your designs?
AM: I was always interested in design and art, even as a child I was drawn to the creative arts. While setting up Rani Pink with my business partner Anika Dhawan Gupta, I aimed to also set up label Abhinav Mishra because I was drawn to weddings overall. I have always had a very special connection with our heritage and that influence is shown in all of my collections so it goes beyond pretty looking clothes and a lot more into the inspiration behind each garment. My design ideology is to amalgamate modern cuts with traditional embroideries and mirror work using pastel as well as bright colours. My aim with every collection is to visualize my muse as the modern Indian woman who is always evolving.
With my current collection ‘Wildflowers’, I have paid homage to the big fat Indian wedding. Every aspect of the celebrations that go into making a beautiful Indian wedding, it goes beyond your outfits and into capturing emotions. For me, the story will always be paramount because my label is built on the premise of love and is all about colours, joy, happiness, and effervescence.
Ex: The pastel tones and intricate embroideries in your garments are a mark of diversity, what is the difference from the expectation of bridal wear in over the years?
AM: Traditionally, brides went in for deeper colours, mostly red. Intricate zardozi embroidery has always been an essential part of the bridal lehenga. The contemporary bride today is in love with pastels. My signature is mirror work for which lots of brides come to me. The traditional mirror work is back in fashion and I try to innovate with silhouettes and colours. Brides have become more experimental and love the colourful prints combined with intricate mirror work I use.
Ex: You have launched a few bridal stores in Delhi, how do you cherish the success of your journey so far?
AM: My ambition keeps me motivated and my work keeps me inspired. Working in wedding design and decor all year long keeps me excited and I feel the need to express myself through my work. Designing is an integral part of who I am and my imagination is always at play. I’m always sketching and creating new designs and visualizing how I wish to present the set of designs that I am working on. The process is very enthralling for me, right from the design bit to the planning to the execution and then the presentation of it. Once the campaign is out, the collection is available for everyone to experience and create their own memories with. This aspect is what draws me to keep believing in what I do and keeps me going. I cannot wait for our Autumn Winter collection launching later in 2019 and the process has already begun!
Ex: The industry is highly competitive and unpredictable, how does it make a challenge for you?
As the clients are extremely well informed and understand what’s in vogue these days so it has impacted my work in a big way as I also keep in touch with the trends and I understand what the consumers are looking for while also maintaining my own design sensibilities and my own aesthetics. It is a unique combination. Since the consumers are so aware in terms of what they’re looking for and families are involved in purchasing especially when its for a bride. Brides usually walk-in with their families and often there are friends involved and so there are the bridesmaids.
The functions are so carefully planned and the wardrobes are so carefully selected, which has inspired me to be prepared with different looks and options for the brides and bridesmaids. To provide a more holistic experience, we also offer styling advice at the store. Ideas on what colours and silhouetted are trending this season and also most importantly what makes them feel comfortable. This is what our consumers expect when they look for an Abhinav Mishra design.
Ex: What is the first bit of advice you give to a millennial bride who is wearing an ‘Abhinav Mishra’ piece?
AM: Stick to your aesthetic and wear what you feel comfortable in. My advice to all my brides is to invest in traditional Indian crafts and modernize with silhouettes and colours. Lastly, Invest in good, versatile jewellery with your outfits that you can pair well with apart from the wedding outfit.
- Your go-to fashion trend: Classics
- One piece of tech that you use for designing: iPad
- Your Muse: My mom
- Best piece of advice given to you: Follow your heart, always
- Favourite app: Instagram
- Most overused fashion trend/trick: Busy prints
- Must have tech gadget that’s not your phone or laptop: B&O portable speakers and AirPods
- Most exotic location: Bahamas
- Tech bucket list: A Bang & Olufsen customizable television