At 25, she is already one of the most popular names in the Indian fashion industry. But not many know that Masaba Gupta became a designer by chance. Starting at 19, she almost immediately made a mark with her bold prints, kaleidoscopic colours, and rule-breaking silhouettes. She not only got the approval of the fashion flock, but of the masses as well. Here, she talks about how she keeps her fashion game up, and reveals her plans for the next few years.
How has your journey in the fashion world been so far?
It has been surreal. I was told that designers usually take a long time to make a mark. So, for me, to get going so fast, not just popularity wise, but also from the business point of view, was quite phenomenal. I didn’t expect people to take to my clothes so quickly because they weren’t really commercial to begin with. So, the minute I got acceptance from people, I knew that I have to act on it fast, and not just be a one-hit wonder.
What do you think really clicked?
I think it was the fact that my work didn’t look like anybody else’s. The use of Indian textiles and modern silhouettes became a hit. I was also experimenting with the sari (her earliest innovation was the pocket sari), and using very bright colours. It was very India-kitsch.
What have these years taught you?
That you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. The more fun you have with fashion, the better it is. You might be good one season, but you might not be so for the next three. So, I’ve realised that you shouldn’t take all the appreciation to heart. The tide can turn very easily.
What are the challenges that you faced?
People think that it is easy to sell clothes, but it’s not. It is something you have to put a lot of investment in, and there’s no formula for being successful in retail. There is a lot of trial and error, and that process is very exhausting. You also burn a lot of money in that process.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to do something that is more affordable. The plan is to create a brand that is available at every lifestyle store in India. That’s the plan for the next two-three years. In the next seven to eight years, we plan to become a far larger brand with many more extensions of the label, like furniture, home décor, cutlery and more.
Any plans of entering Bollywood for costume designing?
No, I don’t think I’m cut out for it. Costume designing is about pleasing people on the sets. I don’t think that’s possible for me because I’m someone who likes to have a lot of creative freedom, and I don’t want to be confined to somebody’s brief. Of course, if it’s someone who I really admire, and he or she wants me to bring in my kind of energy into a movie, I’ll do it. But if it’s about picking up five clothes from one store and six from another, and styling someone, then I’m not going to do that.