Masaba Gupta on how to make it big in the fashion industry
Since I’ve been going on about my views on everything fashion, I thought I’d change it this time around. I am always asked how I made it in fashion (actually, change that to, how I am ‘making’ it in fashion, every single day). I’m going to give you the lowdown on how you can make it too.
Now, listen, but don’t take everything I say too seriously, because I’m still young with a long way to go. This is not a guide on ‘How to be a designer’. Rather, it’s a manual on how to break away from the norm, and still leave a mark. When pursuing a career in fashion, all you need to know is how to:
Rein in your emotions, the burst of ideas, innovations and the irresistible need to create ‘art’. Fashion is art, yes, but you need to bridge the gap — the gap between art and commerce. If your desire is to sell what you create, find the gap and fill it.
In fashion, art is happening in front of you every day; it’s at the traffic signal, in your home, at the vet. What’s on a street is art and you need to be ‘artistically commercial’ to survive. Everything about fashion is about moderation; the balance between black and white, broken with a tinge of shocking pink, or the moderation of an embellished skirt with a raw muslin top. This is imperative while you set out to design. Not too much of anything.
So the computer is in front of you. You love it/hate it/don’t know how you feel about it yet. A simple rule of fashion is this: take a good, hard look at what you’ve created before you let an outsider set eyes on it. Maybe the hem needs to be sharper? Maybe the baby blue against the flaming red is making the look too ‘cold’? Always get a person close enough to criticise you, to take a look and start setting in the punches before you get them from the outside.
Editing a collection is as important as designing it. You must know that, in the next few weeks or months of making a new line, your vision may get sharper. Keep a keen eye out for when the samples are being prepared. Touching and feeling an outfit will give you a better sense of the tweaks it might need. And delete the pieces from the collection you feel are not worth taking up space in anyone’s wardrobe; keep the ones that carry slight drama. Makes for an interesting presentation.
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5 tips for a career in fashion
* Experience: Don’t limit yourself to internships with designers. Try jobs at retail stores, take a crash course in merchandising, or just sit and watch the neighbourhood masterji at work.
* Find your DNA: Your signature style is what sets you apart. Follow it and you’ll never be one of the 100 people whose work all looks like ‘boho chic’.
* Vision first: Don’t be disappointed with bad grades at fashion school. I failed pattern making class and turned out okay. It’s your vision you should really worry about.
* Keep a keen eye: Noted fashion columnist Diana Vreeland said so too. The eye has to travel. You have to see color, compostion, balance, texture, life, beaches, and deserts… a junkyard even. Absorb it all, take pictures and play with it like soft clay.
Gupta is a leading fashion designer. She tweets as @Masaba