Cover Indian designer Dhruv Kapoor talks about his new collection (Photo: Dhruv Kapoor)

Dhruv Kapoor is an emerging star in the fashion world, making a splash with designs that both celebrate his Indian roots and put sustainability at the forefront. Fresh from a successful show at Milan Fashion Week, the designer shares his wisdom with Tatler

For Dhruv Kapoor, incorporating his heritage in his designs is second nature—“effortless”, as he describes it.

The Indian designer, who is the founder of his eponymous label, is a rising star in the fashion industry. One of the few designers of Asian descent showing at the Milan Fashion Week this year, Kapoor is known for taking inspiration from his Indian roots.

Offering womenswear and menswear, his use of odd pairings and unusual tones, as well as a mix of maximal and minimal, have earned him plenty of praise from fashion critics.

What’s more, the designer is a champion of sustainability. The brand works with surplus waste from textile factories in India. It has also partnered with India-based philanthropic organisation Hothur Foundation, which aids victims of acid attacks.

Kapoor’s show in Milan—a whimsical collection dubbed Soul-Tech II—consists of 70s-inspired patterns, over-the-top embroideries and prints, and with a variety of textiles, including upcycled materials.

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How does the new collection champion Indian artistry?

Each season, we work with skilled Indian artisans coming from remote parts of the country. My team and I work with them to enhance their hand embroidery skills, in terms of colours, materials and new techniques. From fabrics made by hand and hand-printed fabrics, each craft is explored seasonally in an updated format.

How do you feel this year’s show went at Milan Fashion Week?

It’s an honour for us to have this opportunity. We use the platform to showcase Indian craftsmanship and its contemporary application, in sync with our messages and brand ethos.

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“Men, in particular, are willing to experiment more. They are reaching out for excessive styles compared to the minimal ones.”
Dhruv Kapoor

How do you keep up with the changing trends?

We noticed new buying patterns and applied those changes to the brand as a whole. The brand now produces genderless collections, playing with print, volume and handcraft. Men, in particular, are willing to experiment more. They are reaching out for excessive styles compared to the minimal ones. With the power of social media, each person is exploring a direction for themselves, which they are owning fearlessly.

Tell us about your brand’s social change initiatives. 

It’s become an integral part of our brand ethos. A project that is really close to me is the one with Ara Lumiere, [a fashion label and an initiative] under the Hothur Foundation. Ara Lumiere works with acid attack survivors and their vision of empowering these talented survivors, by providing job opportunities and taking care of their well-being, is heart-warming. We collaborated with Ara to create headgear and bucket hats hand-embroidered by the survivors. It was an insightful process.

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You also champion sustainability. Can you tell us more about your work in that area?

From added versatility to each product and to promote repeatability, we also looked at upcycled fabrics. Forty per cent of each collection consists of upcycled fabrics that are discarded by huge textile corporations in India as surplus or waste. It’s fascinating to work with these fabrics and explore areas to give them a new life through surface, print—or simply refreshing silhouettes.

We have also partnered with leather firms to work with the production of leftover materials from tanneries so that all small leather goods and accessories are made using upcycled leather. Each season we try to incorporate and educate ourselves about new techniques and processes that we can apply to ensure a circular system. Another new practice we have added to our portfolio is the “zero-waste” products. It’s a challenging yet exciting process and something I look forward to in our design process.

Where are you headed from here and what can we look forward to?

For now, we plan to add accessories and increase collaborative projects globally. In the near future, we plan to add a second vertical to the brand and introduce standalone stores. The rest, we create as we move. It’s important for us to open conversations around the globe through smaller projects and travelling trunk shows.

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