Insights:

  1. Creating a fashion label is very complex, with many pieces of the puzzle. It’s a long chain from design to production to selling. Once you have your concept design, you then need to find the right specialists and manufacturers to make your garments and bring your fashion range from conception to life.
  2. Nevertheless, one should be warned that creating a fashion label can be a very involved process. After you have an amazing concept and some incredible designs put together, the creation of a fashion label requires you to start-up and run a small business. Which of course, requires a fair amount of effort, energy, drive, and motivation.
  3. It is very difficult to turn a vague idea of a garment to reality. It isn’t that easy to come up with new designs and ideas every day.
  4. The truth is that Indian audience is not yet ready for fashion styling. People like the idea but are hesitant to approach or if they approach they think paying money to a stylist is a waste when they could do it themselves.

Profile Details

Name – Mandeep Kaur

Profession – Fashion designer (boutique owner)

Age – 34 years

Gender – Female

City – Jalalabad

Industry – Clothing and outfit design

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in a small city named Kotkapura in Punjab. My father was a farmer and my mother, a homemaker. I belong to a typical middle-class orthodox family, where girls are brought up to get married. My family was very strict, and I didn’t enjoy many normal privileges. I managed to complete my 12th and got a diploma in Nursery Teacher Training [NTT].

Who had the most influence on you and how?

At my in-laws, my sister-in-law was pursuing her M.A. She suggested that I study further.

I wasn’t very good at academics and when I informed her of that, she said, ‘’Why don’t you get a degree in fashion designing?’’. I agreed and developed an interest in designing. My work started getting recognized and I started getting calls for interviews, but due to my poor communication skills in English, I got rejected each time.

So, I decided to set up my own business and opened a boutique. All thanks to my sister-in-law.

Please give us a summary of your career.

Initial months of my boutique setup, it didn’t work well. I started designing and stitching my own designs. People were amazed when they were told that I made these garments. This initiated them to ask for a custom designed garment for them. With word of mouth, I got more work.

Then social media came around and I started posting my work on Facebook. This literally gave a great boost to my work. I now make living helping designers take their ideas from concept to creation by making patterns, prototypes and helping them source wholesale fabrics and factory production. It has been 10 years since I opened my boutique and it’s still one of the best boutiques in the city.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of fashion designing?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to attend a fashion design school to launch your own fashion label, although it certainly helps. Some people have the natural talent for this profession and some need to learn.

You can begin designing and sewing in your free time. What you need is a creative mind.

If you want to become a professional or want to make it to Bollywood, you could pursue fashion designing courses. In India, some of best fashion designing schools are NIFT and NID, which give admissions on the basis of entrance exams.

What are costs associated with education/ training of fashion designing?

If you are pursuing your graduation in fashion designing, it can cost 2–3 lakhs INR per annum; depending on your choice of institute.

What are typical entry-level jobs in fashion designing?

You could be hired as an assistant or junior fashion designer. It totally depends on the skills you possess. You can also set up your own boutique.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career and industry?

This totally depends on your skills and whether you are working for a firm or has your own setup.

1–5 years – 25000–50000 INR/ month

6–10 years – 50000- 60000 INR/ month

10–15 years – 70000–1 lakh or more INR/month

Please describe your work.

My work divides into three parts.

1. The Pre-Production Steps — this includes concept design, design thinking and ideation elements of your fashion range. It also includes finding the perfect materials, trims, and embellishments that you need to make your garments.

2. The Full Production Run — this includes making of the garments.

3. Marketing and Distribution — The last stage is marketing and distribution to the nearby retailers, wholesalers, and clients.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

  1. If your passion is fashion and garments, then this career keeps you updated with the latest trends automatically. Plus, you get to wear and design your own clothes.
  2. Once you become famous, then other designers send their creations for advice and display in your boutique.
  3. You also get invited to fashion shows held all around the world and get a lot of exposure.
  4. You make good money if your products are sustainable and highly fashionable.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of while considering this career/job?

  1. Sometimes, it’s hard for you to find customers who believe in your creations and understand your vision.
  2. Finding the right materials is probably the most time-taking activity; especially when you require technical materials.
  3. From the moment an idea is born in the mind to the time when the final product is worn by the model/client; the entire journey is an endless saga of challenges, struggle, hard work, and perseverance.
  4. When you are working individually, it is a challenge to maintain a good network to advertise your product.
  5. The fashion industry is constantly changing with trends coming and going out of fashion. If you don’t keep up, you will be soon outdated.
  6. The truth is that Indian audience is not yet ready for fashion styling. People like the idea but are hesitant to approach or if they approach they think paying money to a stylist is a waste when they could do it themselves.

What are relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

You need to be updated with the latest trends and designs in the industry.

Colored fabrics like chartreuse, amber light, raffia, spring bouquet are becoming truly a style inspiration. Apart from this, draped shoulders, peter pan collars, the clash of stripes and all white are some of the recent trends.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

A person who is a hub of qualities like creative designing, sketching, sewing, willing to travel and can handle the criticism will be happy in this career. This job really demands time & efforts and not meant for lazy people.

Give another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

I always wanted to be a teacher, but it took me no time to realize that fashion designing is also satisfying to great extent.

What would be your advice to students or professionals, who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

My suggestion, if you are ready for the grind, then expect no work in the first year. Market yourself through different channels and hope you get that first break. But grinding is very important. It’s tough but if persisted, it’s achievable. Network with people that already doing this business or pursuing the related course. People are always happy to share their tips on how they were able to do it successfully.

Contributing Writer – Pawandeep Kaur

You may also like to check out our conversation with Mrs. Sarika Dresswalla, Head of Design at Maganlal Dresswalla.