HT Brunch Cover Story: Fashionable India

Millennial designer Dhruv Kapoor, 33, has always been a man with a plan. As early as sixth grade, he remembers being fascinated by jewelry and how a simple sketch could come to life. Slowly, from jewelry, he focused on clothing. “I just wanted to know what clothes were being worn at an event or a friend’s birthday and I always had a different point of view and restyled their look in my head,” he proclaims. “In 9th grade, I was clear – I was going to design clothes one day.”

Born in New Delhi, Dhruv, who was educated at Springdales School, went on to study at the National Institute of Fashion Technology before making the decision that would change his life. He left India for Milan in 2011 to study at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni, and it, he says, was “a game-changer”.

Italian work

Italy is far behind India when it comes to most things, let alone fashion. The city of Milan helped shape young Dhruv’s views and became the foundation upon which his eponymous label would later build.

Dhruv’s favorites in Milan

“The city claims its eclectic view of fashion, and once you live there, you’re in the middle of it… it’s impossible not to learn from it,” he says. “It took a 360 degree turn on my approach and my personal aesthetic,” he continues. “From city life to my upbringing in Marangoni, everything filtered into a new aesthetic, which I then mixed with the maximum aesthetic I grew up with in India. I understood the design process and sculpted one for myself while in Milan. As a result, my brand is a combination of these two elements: the minimal dressing of Europe and the maximal aesthetics of India.

It wasn’t easy at all, however, as he discovered when he had the opportunity to intern with the womenswear design team at Etro in Milan. It was there that he witnessed the design process in real time. “I took mental notes on everything from seating arrangements to code of conduct, planning a collection, virtual styling, inspiration and translating ideas into clothes, and I ‘always use,’ he says.

Milanese talkies

Although he has done many shows in India, Dhruv’s most regular outings have been at Milan Fashion Week (MFW), where he has been featured seven times, making him the only Indian designer to do so. make. And it all started with him losing a contest in a twist of fate that he calls “bizarre”.

Dhruv, born in New Delhi, who studied at Springdales School, then studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology before leaving India for Milan in 2011 to study at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni; Rider by COS; Jeans by Urban Outfitters (Shivamm Paathak)

“We lost the Vogue Talents contest in Mumbai,” he recalls. “I emailed one of the judges for comments or suggestions and the response I got was, ‘That was great! But I have something else in mind for you,” and two weeks later we received an invitation to be part of Milan Fashion Week (MFW).”

This follows two successful nominations (they reached the semi-finals twice) for the International Woolmark Prize. Her label was sponsored by Camera Nazionale della Moda (CNMI, Milan’s fashion council) for two consecutive seasons to exhibit during MFW at Fashion Hub Market.

First showroom format – B2B format where five to seven designers are invited from all over the world, it lasts the entire duration of fashion week and marks the opening – the label then moved on to a live presentation (it is smaller than the shows, where a designer is free to build an installation or choose a location to display their collection; they normally last two to three hours) in February 2022 and Dhruv now hopes to make it to the shows in June. Fashion shows are more difficult to obtain and have much higher budgets, including a large number of models, lighting and public relations.

Dhruv Kapoor’s journey from New Delhi to Milan

How does he manage to do it so consistently? Well, for this veteran, work begins six months before each show at MFW. “It became a habit,” he shares. “We have aligned our calendars with their dates and now we are working in that order. Also, I am a firm believer of ‘nothing is hard’. Deep down inside, I am aware of this great opportunity that is Milan and that naturally pushes us to work hard. My biggest secret is my team,” he admits. “This whole process is about teamwork…I wouldn’t exist without their support and hard work.”

indian international

The oddly successful blend of his Indian upbringing with his Italian background and upbringing means Dhruv has a unique style that appeals to a global audience. “Just like the Indian market, the international market reacts positively to our odd color pairings and combinations,” he says. “The handcrafted details and hand embroidery are what attract the most attention.”

After bridging the gap between the international fashion market and their expectations of Indian designers, does he think there is a disconnect between Indian fashion designers and what the global market expects from Indian fashion? “Not really!” he says. “I notice a lot of local labels sprouting up all over the country and most of them have a really strong voice. I feel like once we find clarity in our work and our message, the world is opening I wouldn’t compare in terms of aesthetics or quality – India has the capability and already delivers top quality to international standards.

In 2018. Dhruv’s first appeared at Milan Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2019 in September (Shivamm Paathak)

So, does he see himself as an international designer who happens to be Indian, or as an Indian designer who has gone international? Maybe neither. As he says, “I’m an Indian designer with a global audience.”

Praise of Dhruv Kapoor:

Vinod Nair, fashion commentator: “Dhruv has always managed to capture the attention of buyers and the press by infusing that perfect overall feel into his collections.”

Raghavendra Rathore, designer: “Young talents like Mr. Kapoor now have a vast canvas to project their interpretation of Indian style onto a global footprint due to his presence in major fashion capitals of the world and geography-free virtual platforms like social media .”

Jamal Shaikh, National Editor, Brunch HT and new media initiatives: “As an aspiring fashion designer 10 years ago, Dhruv never seemed blindsided by the big names in the industry. He worked hard during the pandemic. Being lucky and privileged is one thing , hard work and consistency are terms I associate with Dhruv Kapoor.

Supriya Dravid, Editor-in-Chief, Ajio Luxe and Former Editor-in-Chief, She India: “Dhruv is an intuitive designer who understood his audience well. Over the years, he’s built a brand that’s a clever mix of sophisticated streetwear and modern classics that are incredibly fun to wear.

Follow @modwel on Instagram & @UrveeM on Twitter

From HT Brunch, March 27, 2022

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