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Despite no formal training in fashion designing, Nagpur based fashion designer Nikita Mhaisalkar, always knew that she was born to play with creativity, designs and fabrics. Nikita’s ‘contemporary yet Indian’ creations have often been spotted on celebs like Zareen Khan, Daisy Shah, Mouni Roy, etc. Nikita feels that while she has garnered accolades across various cities in the country, Nagpur is yet to recognise her talent in fashion design. In a candid chat with Nation Next, Nikita Mhaisalkar, who wishes to flaunt her designing flair in Lakme Fashion Week someday, speaks about her style of designing and how Nagpur is gradually becoming fashion conscious.
What kind of design wear is your forte?
My forte is designing Indian wear. I design for all occasions except for brides in weddings. I want to excel in ‘contemporary yet Indian’ line of clothing, which can be worn in destination weddings and other regular occasions too. I aim to showcase my designs at international markets. People in abroad want to wear exclusive outfits so I stick to the Indian style of designing, which includes embroidery, hand-block printing, screen printing, etc. This is the reason my designs are well received in abroad, so I have a good cliental base there.
Which material defines your style? Why?
I love to work on organza fabric as it fits all kinds of Indian women as they are have varied shapes and sizes. It is very well used with Indian as well as western silhouettes. Silk organza is one of my favourite fabrics to work on.
Nagpur is considered a small market with limited means for shopping…
I have people coming down from Mumbai, Delhi, Raipur, etc to specially meet me and place orders. Today, Nagpur is one of the biggest designer hubs. Shruti Sancheti and me have proved all our critics wrong. We both are well appreciated and recognised in other cities unlike in Nagpur. Technology has played a vital role in my business. My online store has received a great response across the country.
Which stores outside Nagpur host your line of clothing? Is it cumbersome for you to handle all that while staying in Nagpur?
At present, we are handling 20 stores all across India, out of which seven are from Mumbai. I have got a lot of recognition and appreciation for my brand and designs, from all across the stores in India. One of my favourite stores in Mumbai is Creo, which showcased my prêt-á-porter outfits. Fuel store stocks both haute couture and prêt line. Jhelum is a beautiful store in Mumbai, which stocks outfits by ace designers like Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, etc. They promote my label in the same way they promote famous designers’ labels. Amara, Kimaya, Atosa are famous stores in Mumbai that promote my clothing. Other renowned stores are Elahi in Hyderabad, Collage in Bangalore, Amethyst in Chennai, who help me sell my label in down south. Aura in Raipur and Surat, have also contributed to my success today. It’s not easy for me to manage my collections in so many stores simultaneously.
Unlike your contemporaries, you started your career a bit late…
One of the major reasons to start my career a bit late was my family, as I first wanted my sons to grow up. I need to travel almost six to seven times a week to make sure my designs suit the particular city I’m designing for. My frequent traveling has definitely benefitted me professionally and has given me a lot of exposure.
Nagpur is home to established fashion designers like Shruti Sancheti, Vidhi Wadhwani and Nidhi Gandhi. Has the competition become quiet stiff off late?
Not at all! We all are different despite being in the same profession. While Shruti Sancheti caters to women who prefer a traditional look, Vidhi Wadhwani has a contemporary style of designing. I prefer designs that are contemporary yet Indian.
As a fashion designer, do you feel Nagpurians don't spend enough on clothes in consideration to other cities?
I agree, but the times have changed. I have clients for whom I have even designed outfits for my customers for exclusive events with no price limitation. However, I’ve also come up with an affordable range. My outfits start at a minimal range of Rs 5000, which is a hit among college going girls. Since last 13 years, I have made sure that nobody leaves my store empty handed. This is something I will always cherish.
Would you say Nagpur is spending more on fashion and diversifying its fashion needs?
Yes. I work during the entire year. The term ‘off season’ no longer exists in the garment industry. November, December and January used to be the peak season but times have drastically changed. People now a days have destination weddings, college functions, karvachauth and numerous other festivities. I have a lot of pressure and deadlines to chase. So, I make sure my outfits reach my customers and the stores at the right time.
Nagpur doesn’t have adequate methods for printing on fabrics, as there are limited means. I have a team of two in Nagpur, who travel exclusively for the procurement of raw materials from Mumbai or Delhi. It’s extremely frustrating! Something as basic as zips, buttons and hooks too aren’t available at times in the city so I have to outsource it from other cities.
What will be your message to the budding fashion design students of Nagpur?
I feel they should move out of Nagpur for greater exposure. They should intern with the best of fashion designers if possible. Designers should have originality in their designs. I would say that never follow trends. Instead, create your own fashion. I have around 20 interns working with me from different colleges from Nagpur, to whom I have given a platform, where they can design, explore and understand management.