India-born US-based designer Premal Badiani recently showcased her fashion skills at the New York Fashion Week. Sonali Pimputkar talks to the designer whose label portrays opulence amid classic simplicity
Premal Badiani, the face behind the brand, believes that it is the unseen and ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure. Badiani works closely with local artisans and looks after the quality control and production co-ordination to create a silhouette that compliments the personality of the wearer. Started in the USA in 2012, the brand has appeals to customers not only in India but also internationally. Over to the fashion designer…
When did you think about entering the world of fashion?
My flair for designing started in childhood. Growing up, I was always fascinated to create and combine various fabrics to just see how they will turn out. I used to spend my spare time researching and playing around with fabrics, inspiring color hues and dreaming fashion. I do not believe there was any tipping point that got me into fashion. It was more of a gradual progression for me. I have always been passionate about fashion. It just crept into my blood, and here I am. It helped that my friends and family encouraged me and I listened to my heart.
How do you think ‘Premal Badiani’ has helped you to evolve?
There are four things about the journey with Premal Badiani brand that has truly helped me evolve: Passion, inclination to learn, willingness to make connections, and perseverance. My passion for fashion and designing made me pursue it with all my heart. If you remain true to yourself and follow your own interests, values, and dreams, you will find success. A major part of my learning and development comes from people: Meeting them, making connections, exchanging ideas and most importantly, being genuine and having fun socialising. I have learnt that making mistakes is what will help me evolve, so I am always ready to experiment and explore ideas that can interest the mavericks of the industry.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
The inspiration behind my latest collection is to bring awareness of the human impact on the environment and to promote social responsibility by adopting sustainable fashion as a lifestyle choice. The primary fabric used was made from cellulosic fibers and produced from wood pulp, a natural renewable resource. This highlights the brand’s philosophy of environmental awareness that believes caring about the planet is not a seasonal choice but needs to be done all year round.
How did you decide to use wood pulp in your collection?
I wanted to create my collection that was strong and that made a statement beyond just fashion. Another thing I wanted to make sure was that we introduced something new in the market. During my research when I came across these new-age fibers made from wood pulp, I knew this was it. The naturally created fabric (in a pure or blended form) transforms not just the garment but also the person wearing it. It is comfortable, soft, 100% natural, and eco-friendly.
How do you coordinate with local artisans? Is distance a barrier?
In the digital and global world that we live today, I refuse to believe that distance can be a barrier when it comes to working with our artisans or for that matter any aspect of our production process. When you are an international brand with your artisans and part of the team sitting remote, three things that are very important, firstly clear communication, secondly a very strong team that shares the same vision and thirdly a well-defined and planned process. We have a very streamline process that helps me manage and keeps me in constant touch with my artisans. Most of the things are shared digitally and we take advantage of the technology to its fullest. For parts of the process that I need be present in person, I never hesitate to make myself available for the team.
Premal Badiani has a growing customer base internationally. What challenges you faced throughout your journey?
It has been a lot of work, that’s for sure. You must constantly predict global fashion trends, studying about the industry and keeping up with its movements. When you are catering to a global clientele all year round, it constantly keeps you on your toes. In the beginning, I was very naïve to the whole end to end process and my creativity and passion were the only two things I had and hence there was a lot of experimentation. Sometimes, things would work better than I had hoped, while in other cases, they didn’t. The most important lesson that I have learned from my experience is that you can never stop believing. There are going to be good days and bad days. There will be times when your morals, your knowledge, and your determination will be tested. However, you can never stop believing in yourself or your product and service. To provide something that is unique, you must believe that you are unique too.
How do international designers differ from Indian designers?
I have worked with some good designers, whether Indian or international and they all are immensely talented. What I truly believe is that the creativity of a designer is influenced by the exposure, the culture and the market they want to cater to; and that is how it should be honestly. Having had the opportunity to work with both sets of designer, I will say that the international designers have a wider perspective when it comes to creativity, because of the fact that they are well travelled, many of them have a global sense of culture and they are more process and method driven.