She’s broken into the already crowded international fashion scene, and is already a hit with celebrities like actors Anna Kendrick and Malin Ackerman and musician Ashley Simpson-Wentz. And after a successful trunk show in Mumbai, Norwegian-born designer Elise Overland is turning her attention to India.
“On a personal level, I’ve always loved Indian culture. But from a business standpoint, I think there is so much potential in India that’s not tapped into yet, and people are now more open to dress like Western women,” says Overland, adding that she hopes to open a store here in the future. The designer admits that she wishes she had time to explore India’s fabric markets: “I usually buy my fabrics in Italy, but I’m open to changing that. But to get into the mind set of working with Indian craftsmen and artisans is something I’ll keep for another visit.”
Overland confesses that she’s not very well-versed with Indian designers, but Indian-born New York-based designer Naeem Khan, who is on Michelle Obama’s favourite’s list, is a talent she enjoys. “I know Naeem from New York, and have also visited his family factory a while back. He is very talented and has managed to keep his Indian roots, and at the same time, keep an international vision and design aesthetic,” she adds.
Given that most young designers, like Overland herself, shot to fame after celebrities were seen wearing their clothes, she admits that being endorsed by a famous face is good for business. “The way the industry is set up now, a celebrity wearing your clothes has a huge impact, more than a magazine feature. The pictures are distributed everywhere,” she explains, adding, “It’s sort of free advertising, but the celebrity you choose to dress also sets your branding.” And Indian designers will love her thoughts on the peculiar desi habit of getting celebrities to walk as showstoppers. “Do whatever it takes to have your brand move forward.”
Overland’s business guide for young designers
Don’t start the business without a partner.
Focus on your sales point. Without sales, your business won’t move forward regardless of how beautiful your designs are.
Find out early who your customer is and try to focus on their needs.
Identify with a celebrity that can help brand your vision, and don’t be all over the place trying to dress everyone up.
Remember to enjoy what you do.