Fashion Designers on the Rise

A designer needs to find a balance between comfort and fashion. Wearing a good set of clothes uplifts your mood and boosts your personality. It is not an easy task to pull off and not every fashionable person can become a designer. We were on the lookout for influential designers currently taking Nepali fashion to new heights and here are four who we think are making a difference.

The Groundbreaker: Tenzin Tseten Bhutia

1) What has been your biggest inspiration as a designer?

I have been able to create something out of the box; something that can be appreciated by the masses as well as something that will help them to accept me as a designer. Other than that my family and my friend’s circle play an important role in inspiring me to follow my own path.

2) When did you figure out that you wanted to be a designer?

As I look back, it was during my college days when I wanted to drop everything and pursue my dreams. I eagerly wanted to get into designing which in hindsight, I feel was the biggest leap that I took, and a decision I am glad I took because it changed the course of my life.

3) What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to designing?

The challenge that we as designers face is the availability of resources which is hard to find in Nepal. We usually have to work with lower quality fabric/products or something that's not up to the standard. We also don't have a domestic textile industry to meet our needs and the lack of skilled labor is a nuisance.

4) What is the creative process you go through when designing?

I have numerous steps while designing a collection. Research is the key. I research the type of material I require and then I need to sketch and formulate a pattern and only then I finally begin stitching. In between, there are lots of other processes that need to be checked and reviewed. It's definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

5) Who is your favorite designer and why?

My favorite designers are John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier. It is simply because of how they think in terms of creating something and their ability to generate ideas and designs out of thin air. That's mind boggling.

6) How long have you been designing?

It’s been more than a decade now.

7) What advice would you give for summer looks? Do’s and Don’ts.

Dressing for summer is tricky. Opt for lighter colors, breathable fabric and amazing silhouettes that suit your body frame. Don't follow trends blindly and avoid darker shades.

8) Tell me about yourself, not as a designer but as a person; your goals, you aspirations, your weaknesses, your strengths.

My goal is to achieve a lot more than what I have at the moment. I aspire to be the most humble person and create an amazing world for others. My weakness is, I do not have patience about things, which often turns ugly. And finally my strength is the love and support that I get from loved ones.

9) Favorite design of yours and why.

I really can't pin point any particular design which I have designed for others but I am quite happy with what I create in terms of coats for myself. I just love them all.

10) Advice for upcoming designers and how has the field changed in Nepal.

Be passionate and be ready to face any criticism that you get for your design. Once you know that you are getting criticism, it means people are starting to notice you and your designs. Be positive and keep your pride no matter what and keep your head held high. Be ready to face any challenges thrown at you. There has been countless steps taken forward in the field of designing in Nepal and it’s been an amazing change from the time I started out and now.

11) Favorite look at Met Gala 2019?

My favorite Met Gala 2019 looks are of Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Katy Perry, Priyanka Chopra and Kim Kardashian.

The Frontrunner: Manish Rai

Inspiration is out there, and speaking on generating inspiration as a designer, Manish Rai says, “As a designer, inspirations are everywhere and the only thing we as designers need is a set of keen eyes to capture it.” A household name in fashion designing in Nepal, Manish Rai also draws inspiration from his clients. “The satisfaction and happiness on the faces of people wearing my designs inspires me because that’s how I get connected with them in their life and the moment we create for them is magical,” says Manish.

Wanting to do something in the hospitality sector, Manish Rai initially pursued Hotel Management but after he was invited to a fashion show organized by his friend, he was captivated and enamored by the level of creativity involved in fashion designing and hence left his management studies to delve into fashion designing. But just being inspired by the creativity does not mean you will be able to produce high quality works, if there are no resources to express your creativity. “There are very limited resources in Nepal and almost 95% of the materials used are being imported from either China or India. They are ‘make do’ materials and the chances of getting good quality fabrics in Nepal are very low,” says Rai.

A rather unconventional designer, the creative process for Manish Rai is different from that of his peers. “All designers have their own individual and distinct creative process and I have my own. I enjoy working directly and draping the fabrics rather than creating sketches before starting to work on them,” shares Manish. Well for someone who does not rely on sketches, he has done pretty well for himself and his designs are sought after in the Nepali fashion scene. Speaking on his favorite designer, Manish says he is most inspired by Zac Posen, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel to name a few. A designer who has been in the scene for only three years, he has accomplished what others have been trying to do for decades. Such is his creative style and out of the box ideas and opinions. Asked about his favorite among his designs he says, “I am like a mother to my design. They are like my children, so asking me to pick my favorite one is a little hard because to me all of them are beautiful,” laughs Rai.

Designing is not the only thing he does though, he is a man with a mission leading a purpose driven life, deeply embedded to his roots. “I am a person who loves nature and draws inspiration from seeing natural beauty bestowed on us; I want to create something that will help me make my mark. I want people to remember me and my designs long after I am gone,” says Manish. As a family man, he says his biggest strength is his family without whom he would not have been able to accomplish what he has. He believes in correcting and reinventing oneself constantly. “Everyone has some weaknesses; I believe you should work on those weakness rather than showing it to others,” exclaims Manish.

Being a frontrunner in the fashion design scene in Nepal and with such a high value for his designs and the respect he commands in the industry, Manish wants the upcoming designers to never stop believing in themselves, and to be patient. “Things are getting better nowadays. The general public is now aware of and conscious about fashion. Due to this change in peoples’ perspective, designer wear are getting more popular which is good for us designers. So don’t ever give up and be patient,” advices Manish Rai.

The Pioneer : Yubi Thapa

Born in Gorkha and brought up in Kathmandu, Yubi Thapa was always inspired by designer clothes since childhood. A graduate of Namuna College of Fashion Technology, he passed out in 2011 and joined the fashion world the following year. He has designed for more than a dozen movies and has become one of the most talked about fashion designers in Nepal today.

What has been your biggest inspiration as a designer?
You never know when inspiration will strike. As a designer I use simple things around me to get inspiration. In fact inspiration is everywhere. It’s all about learning and evolving your style seeing new things and creating them.

When did you figure out that you wanted to be a designer?
Since childhood I used to paint and sketch.I am a very spontaneous kind of person. I just go with the flow. Hence, it has helped me till date and I love doing what I do

What is the creative process you go through when designing?
Research what you want to make. Create a story based on your research. Sketch your story/design. Create the pattern. Start the drape. Fabrication comes next and finally make the design.

 Who is your favorite designer and why?
I admire each and every designer all over the world because they come-up with their own taste, style their creation and concept. So each of them is unique and best in their own way. So yeah every designer is my favorite. (Laughs).

 How long have you been designing?
It’s crazy how fast time flies and how things progress. When I was 20, I started my journey as a fashion designer; that was around seven years ago. Times flies so quickly!

What advice do you give for summer looks? Do’s and Don’ts?
Do- Light colors are better than dark, cotton/linen/rayon are some of the best fabrics for hot weather.Don’t -Avoid polyester fabric. Don’t wear all black long-sleeves and pants.

Tell us about yourself, not as a designer but as a person: your goals, your aspirations, your weaknesses and your strengths.
I’m a simple person who loves to spend time with senior citizens. So many senior citizen are still deprived of proper care and support, many of them are homeless. So, I have a strong feeling to do something for them in the near future before I die. Along with that as a human first, I want to become a more transformed human being to enhance all the various possibilities, my capabilities and unfold my hidden talents. My strength is my creativity and self-trust. My weakness could be food.

Favorite design of yours and why.
Hand painted design (Artistic and abstract) and coming to why, I mostly depend on sketch and paint, so much. Also my signature design is lining stripe.

Advice for upcoming designers and how has the field changed in Nepal.
Be true to yourself. Starting your own fashion line involves a lot more than having creative ideas, and knowing how to thread the needle. There are also the very important matters of financing, public relations and marketing. Never overlook; that aspect as well. Well the fashion industry has come a long way. It’s emerging quite progressively compared to the past. People have started following fashion trends and buy designer wear. As time is passing every second new designs, inventions, fashion, technology and people’s thoughts are evolving.

What was the best design for you in this year’s Met Gala.
Like I said before, every designer has his/her own style, taste and creation. So yeah everyone looked flattering. I loved them all.

The Innovater : Pratik Agrawal

Natraj is a fashion house where you go to purchase whatever you want regarding designs and customization. A few years after establishment, they are already one of the top fashion houses in the nation. Pratik Agrawal, Director/Designer of the store, aims to take it to greater heights in the coming days with the expertise and exclusivity they enjoy. Agarwal talks of his journey when Natraj was appointed the official wardrobe designer for Miss Nepal 2019.
Tell us about the establishment of Natraj boutique
Everything depends on your passion and your aim. As my base is in fabrics, I decided to choose this profession for myself. My passion for designing is the sole reason for where I stand today. Right after I completed my college, I had some time left. In the meantime, I decided to undertake fashion designing from IEC. While at it, my interest in it increased gradually as I discovered that I could play well with color and patterns. Since I already had a fabric business, I started implementing my creativity on my customers and they loved it. I first started a tailoring business with four tailors and a master for a year. After gaining confidence, I came up with the idea of opening Natraj.

What’s behind the name ‘NATRAJ’?
I was bought up in a very religious family where I was taught about religion and culture. My parents have taught me to be thankful to the almighty god for giving us this life and every pinch of success. As I was starting my career in designing, I decided to name my boutique ‘NATRAJ’ because Natraj is the god of creativity and here we create new designs giving new directions to fashion. I thus felt that Natraj would be the best name for my boutique.

If we look around the fashion industry, we can find people giving a label to the store. Why didn’t you think of doing that?
I want to make my identity through my own brand. If I pass away, my name will also go with me, but if my brand is alive, it can be associated with a lot more things in future. As they say, ‘People pass away, but not the brand!’ My motive was also the same with this. I wanted people to know my brand more than my name.

What is Natraj’s strength when compared to other boutiques out there?
Here, we design everything right from western, Indo-western to traditional. Whatever design you find in NATRAJ, they’ve all been designed in Natraj itself by me and my team. I supervise my team to work on the designs and patterns and then we come up with a perfect piece for each customer.

What was your breakthrough moment since you started Natraj?
After people started demanding our products from outside the nation as well, I started becoming confident that finally my boutique is doing well. Natraj became the first choice among celebrities and the happiness then was just indescribable.

Natraj recently got an opportunity to be a part of Miss Nepal 2019 as the official wardrobe partner. What was the experience like?
The experience was amazing! The exposure I got there was much more than what I had expected. Initially, I thought, I will make a design on time and everything else would be easy but after getting there I understood what hassles we had to face. The limited time we had to design a separate piece for each of the 25 contestants was very challenging. Miss Nepal is a show which is watched by more than 10,000 people all around the world. Thus we make sure our designs are not common. Although, we had less than 10 minutes for each contestant, we didn’t compromise on quality at all; in fact we focused on every factor so that the mass would love our designs.

One word to describe your experience!
A roller-coaster ride!

Your favorite brand moment during Miss Nepal?

I remember once I forgot to carry my ID Card, but when I told them that I was from Natraj nobody stopped me. That was something that made me really proud of my brand. Also, after I left the stage, everyone appreciated my work. Next day, my page received more than 1000 messages. This kind of love and support gives me the motivation to work even harder.

Any last words!
You deserve to look beautiful. And Natraj is always there to fulfill your expectations.