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Meet India’s buzziest new designer
Talent aside, you need a trump card to even have a shot at entering the clubby world of Indian fashion.
When Ujjawal Dubey debuted his label at Lakmé Fashion Week last March, he presented a conceptual, anti-establishment aesthetic on the runway: an abundance of voluminous asymmetry, eazy-breezy layering, and an overwhelming propensity for black. The kind of loungey, alternative clothing you’d pack for Paris with a stopover in Goa – and best paired with a joint.
All lumberjack beard, hot white smile and fedora cocked to one side, the 28-year-old gives off the kind of hipster vibe that’s more obscure art gallery than front row at fashion week. It’s intentional. Dubey reiterates several times during this interview that fashion’s not really his thing.
“We’re part of a fast-paced generation and it’ll catch up with us. People are returning to a slower life,” he says. He’s preparing for a mellower time: designing for guys like him, who don’t follow trends or obsessively refresh their Instagram feeds. Guys who would rather catch a gig than flutter about the social circuit. He also crafts furniture and dabbles in product design.
Dubey was raised in Gorakhpur in eastern UP, where design legends like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto – who’ve inspired Dubey’s work – mean nothing. But after studying at NIFT, Kolkata and apprenticing with Shantanu & Nikhil, Dubey picked up on fashion-speak. “I had to convince myself before being able to convince anyone else that I could do it,” he says.
It took Tom Ford’s life story to inspire Dubey. “Ford studied to be an architect, but then veered into fashion design. That he was able to make the switch – and do it so successfully – made me believe I could too,” he says. Unlike Ford, however, Dubey would rather be backstage than in the spotlight. His process is technical, and he focuses more on cuts and silhouettes than embroidery and embellishment.
The mood of menswear today is one of rebellion. Street style is as important as the clothes on a runway, bloggers pull as much rank as editors and wearability is the name of the game. By playing the outsider with a proclivity for edgy fashion, Ujjawal Dubey might just be more of an insider than he thinks.
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