The Libas showroom in Juhu, one of the most well-known brands for wedding trousseau, is the prime spot for celebrities and other Mumbaikars, to make a fashion statement. The reason— designer Riyaz Gangji and the trust they have in him.
Did you always want to be a designer?
Always. When I was just 14, I would find out about the latest styles, check out embroidery and look at cuttings. I was fascinated with how our cheap Indian cloth work was sold at such high prices as a brand. That’s when I started thinking about a brand of my own.
How did you enter the fashion/ designing world?
In the ’80s, there were no schools of fashion, so I have had no formal training in the field. I did not have financial support either. I used to sell video cassettes at Rs.10 and make a profit of Rs. 5 per cassette. It was with that money which I accumulated, that at the age of 16, that I went to Hong Kong through a friend’s contact. I got to work under Daniel, an American designer under whom I learned the basics of designing. I went through intense and rigorous training. I mean, I would even wash his shop windows, and clean the glass.
How important is a fashion school for becoming a designer?
A fashion school can only teach the basics. Look at me! I haven’t even finished junior college... What one needs is vision, and the tact to understand the market, the clients and the budget. One should understand that the Indian market for clothes has money only in the wedding arena. People do not really want to spend otherwise.
Another drawback that I see in a lot of designing schools today is the lack of teaching and interest in styling for males. There isn’t much exposure to male styling in India.
What should a budding designer do to make it big in India?
It is very important that a student goes out into the international fashion world and see how s/he can create a market in India for international fashion.
They need to widen their horizons and look at ways to get the layman interested in designer clothes.