Nachiket Barve

Nachiket Barve

“You’re as good as your last collection”

Fashion Designer Nachiket Barve | Fashion magazine | Fashion magazine in India | Online fashion magazine | Online fashion magazine in India | Indian fashion magazine



Name: Nachiket Barve,
Profession: Designer,
Instagram: @nachiketbarve

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currentMood: You studied at National Institute of Design (NID), received a scholarship to further your education from École National Supérieur des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (ENSAD) and interned with Céline. What was all this like? What was the defining moment for you?

Nachiket Barve: NID was amazing! There were only nine seats available pan India and despite of not having any fashion background, I got in and it was surreal. It was the first time I felt that I could make a career out of what I enjoy doing. Every year they awarded a scholarship to one post graduate student to study in Paris and I got it! Furthering my education at ENSAD gave me a lot of exposure, I had access to the big shows and saw Anna Wintour getting out of her car with the whole shtick around it. It was the first time I felt truly global in a way, where you’re not just seeing things on the page of a magazine but up close.

The real eureka moment happened when we were having a discussion at Céline’s office one day. We were talking about madras checks an how somebody’s grandmother used to wear swimwear in that print in the 40’s. And I thought how this was so removed from the world that I came from. Up until then I was probably fixated with wanting to being a part of the European work environment..around big brands.

Then I realised that I’m Indian, I have a point of view which is different and rather than trying to look like every other European label, why not do something that defines who I am at this point of time? I’m talking about 2004-05, when we all sort of started dressing in a way which was more global. The silhouette wasn’t the kurta or the sari anymore. I think this was the defining point of all this, I felt that I could help fill the void – of designing clothes that were western in it’s silhouette but done our way.
You’re as good as your last collection in a certain way. And it’s not a business which lets you rest on your laurels.
cM: You’re an established, well recognised designer in India and then Woolmark happened. Did it take time to adjust to the idea of competing at an International level, almost like going back to school?

NB: You know I think what’s fantastic and unsettling about this business is that every season you’re a student. Because you’re as good as your last collection in a certain way.

And it’s not a business which lets you rest on your laurels. So you have to keep reinventing. Be it internationally or nationally, I think the product sells itself and is the real hero. The competition is there, but unlike other professions, for example doctors; there’s a junior doctor and a senior doctor. Or say actors, where some people fall into a certain bracket. Whereas here you could be competing with a brand that’s 250 years old or somebody who is 6 months old. In the end, it’s what the consumer buys into.
Fashion Designer Nachiket Barve | Fashion magazine | Fashion magazine in India | Online fashion magazine | Online fashion magazine in India | Indian fashion magazine

Fashion Designer Nachiket Barve | Fashion magazine | Fashion magazine in India | Online fashion magazine | Online fashion magazine in India | Indian fashion magazine

cM: Did you feel the pressure at any point?

NB: Of course there is pressure! It’s there before you do fittings for every show, when I did a film last year for which we got the state award for costumes and every time you do something. Simply because you invest so much of yourself into it, there is pressure. A lot of it. At Woolmark there were six contestants from different continents and each of them bring something unique to the table. You have ten minutes to present to the jury – distill your essence, ecosystem, belief, product and contextual relevance in about seven minutes.

cM: You had 6 months to create your capsule collection, what was your creative process like?

NB: What drives all of us in fashion is to do something that hasn’t been done before. So for me it was about reimagining wool as a material. I wasn’t familiar with this fibre and spent the last four seasons developing it. So I started with felt, a tough material which was probably the first form of wool before weaving.

I wanted to take that forward and the entire collection was inspired by armour; natural armour of say pangolins, man made armour like the samurai or mediaeval armour, etc. I was working with the idea of duality, of what looks tough but is light and subtle.
Another concept was gender role reversal. I looked at the sea horse which is the only species where the male gives birth to the young. In a way it’s the ultimate sort of reversal of genders. So the qualities I was playing with were how gender doesn’t matter and how we want to be tough on the outside but soft inside.
Now coming to the actual process of making the garments. Since nothing happens in Bombay, I got things made in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Noida and Calcutta. It was indeed a mammoth project to put together, but it was fulfilling and I think somewhere along the line it also makes you grow as a designer which is very important.


cM: Has this experience changed you in anyway? What have you taken from it?

NB: It definitely makes you grow as a designer because it’s intense. You have to leverage your product and present to the likes of Victoria Beckham or Suzy Menkens and have them love your clothes and give amazing feedback. So by default you also end up leveraging your mind and that is growth. It also teaches you to look at everything from a macro perspective and internalise where where you stand in the larger scheme of things. Because I still feel that even though the industry is growing, it’s still at a very nascent stage and globally we are just a dot..I mean not even a dot. If you look at the reach designers based in Europe, Japan and the U.S have – say a Jason Wu or Philip Lim, it’s phenomenal.
Growing up, we’ve all been influenced by pop culture and a certain kind of beauty. Whether it’s a magazine that’s been relevant or Sarah Jessica Parker five years ago or Rihanna. And then you have to question it, yeah it works for them but does it work here? I think at some level there’s been a disconnect between how sometimes designers and creatives from the industry look at what Indian fashion is and what percentage of it are we really relevant to.

For example we might feel that whatever is resonating internationally is exciting but when you look at a large chunk of the population here and realise that they couldn’t give a rats ass about it. So you need to question yourself and say, “What next?” I’ve been on this platform (Woolmark) and it’s been well received. But do I want to sell to the Koreans in Korea or look inwards? So that’s the stage it’s at.
One matures with time and the experiences you’ve been through over the years makes you realise that there’s this, then there’s next and then there is next. Like in the September Issue you know, the moment the issue is out, she’s like “Next!” Which is a wonderful thing because you cant sit and wallow in either praise or criticism. And it’s always about looking forward which is what I think drives us forward, doesn’t it?

cM: And that’s my last question, what’s next?

NB: What’s next? Even I don’t know and that’s the beauty of fashion. If we know what we’re going to do two years later, it becomes boring. I think super specialisation is the way forward, where you know what you’re really good at and choose that instead of dabbling into everything. So cleansing the palette is how I would look at it.



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Interviewed by currentMood
Photographed by: Mrinmai Parab

Instagram: @mrinmaiparab