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Identity & Influence


Statements is the result of my biggest social media experiment ever. This journey has been quite a memorable one. I am the girl who always likes to be in control, I have always had a plan, and when I started my final semester I did have one, until it just vanished. A little clueless and dazed, I started my research on Influence & Identity, the idea was simple; to decipher the meanings of these two words used so commonly, and put them in context with the industry I aspire to be a part of. After finishing my initial research, the time for content creation arose, and that's when my big social media experiment happened. I crowd sourced. I actually did. I put up a simple image, explained my topic and tagged practically the whole Indian fashion fraternity asking them two questions 1.What does identity mean to you? 2.What does the power of influence mean to you? For the first few days, I felt like a loser, I felt it was the stupidest thing I had ever done, and then on the fourth day there was a reply, and then there was no looking back. Thoughts and views flew in, some of the biggest names in the industry took out time from their busy schedules and replied and it was overwhelming. The idea is extremely simple, Statements is a mere collection of thoughts, processes, ideas, images. The underlying common thing remains the same, what does identity and influence mean in today’s day and age? Statements is also a visual collectable with imagery sourced over a long period of time. It is about a little journey in my life, and as this journey of college comes to an end, its a little dedication to what comes next. Every page of Statements, is an identity in itself, it is treated as an individual and might look out of place, while it ain't, you might also have to twist and turn the book or your neck depending on your preferences. A special mention to Naina Hussain who collaborated with me for Statements and illustrated all the interviewees exclusively for this book.


MY . TWO . CENTS


A.C.K.N.O.W.L.E.D.G.E.M.E.N.T.S


Thank you to everybody I forgot to name, and thank you to the ones I couldn’t even dare to. First and foremost my teachers; Asmita Aggarwal, you’re not just a mentor, you’re more than a guardian angel. Milly Sethi, you’re the only one I have ever wanted to impress. Meha Jayaswal you’re my second mother, that’s all I’ll say. Cyril Feuillebois my life would never be complete without you. Keshav Suri you’re my pep-talker. Santu Misra for possessing the ability to make me do better. Mozez Singh for your undying support and faith in me. Naina Hussain for being my life saviour. Srishti Das for being my mentor. Mom, Dad, Bhua, Rehmat & Gurmehar for being just the usual you and being the wind behind my wings. Everybody who believed in me, and took out the time to reply, and make Statements, what is today.


Anand Ahuja

Malini Agarwal

Edward Lalrempuia

Anavila Misra

Imran Amed

Delving into the minds of...


C.O.N.T.E.N.T.S

Nishat Fatima

Rahul Khanna

Nitasha Gaurav

Aishwarya Subramanyam

Sita Wadhwani


“Identity means the reason of anything or person to exist and its contribution to the space it exists in.� -

Rajesh Pratap Singh


// IMRAN AMED


Imran Amed is a Canadian-Bri editor-in-chief of Business of Fa s influent What does identity mean to you? Identity comes from a variety of places: upbringing, cultural heritage, national values, experiences. There is not just one place. What does the power of influence mean to you? Influence is a lofty word, but I believe influence comes with responsibility as opposed to ‘power’. When one has influence, I think it is important to use that influence responsibly, and to a positive end. How would you describe the concept of Brand Identity and it’s importance? Brand identity is the personality and characteristics of a brand. People use the world ‘brand’ quite liberally however, and this is a mistake. For a brand to be a brand it must have a special emotional resonance with its consumer base. What makes BoF unique? BoF’s uniqueness comes from how it was born and how it has grown with the support of a global community. Brands used to be built by advertising and PR, but now, increasingly they are built by communities of people. BoF is one of these kinds of media brands. Where do you see the India Fashion Industry in the next 5 years? Indian fashion seems to be at an crossroads as local designers gain confidence and begin to think beyond the lucrative bridal market. With the rise of internet, a growing middle class and increased connectivity to the global market, creating collections that appeal to the growing Indian masses using digital engagement will become more and more important.


tish Fashion Expert, and the founder and shion. He is regarded as one of the most ial personalities in the world of Fashion.


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LOOk within ///Sophie Dream


A

M a l vi a n


M

a r s i

The Brand Anavila stands for pure, rustic organic textiles and products. They are associated with craft clusters across the country and all their work is a result of interactions and interventions in these craft clusters. Connected to the brand’s earthy roots, they constantly strive towards reviving the dying crafts which are so rich in heritage and truly India’s pride. Essentially the materials used for the label are pure in the true sense. Zero waste recreating products of interest with scrap fabrics, threads and other materials are used. True luxury comes from comfort and ease and natural organic materials which are healthy for our skin and body. They increasingly work with pure natural materials finished and treated to highest standards, using natural or otherwise eco-friendly colours and woven in conditions which are healthy and weaver friendly. Anavila Misra believes in a new language in design which is deeply rooted in Indian crafts and textiles and yet fresh and contemporary. A post-graduate in knitwear design from NIFT, she started her eponymous label in 2011.


What does identity mean to you? Identity to me means references/symbols /thoughts and feel that comes to mind when you think of a particular brand. What does the power of influence mean to you? In today’s world we are all busy multitasking, travelling, discovering. Its an era of digital lives with enormous referencing. How brand create their identities and use them communication is a strong influence on consumers. It’s like creating a common language across various nationalities but similar sensibilities. Would you describe your journey about creating the eponymous brand? It’s a very involved curation. You have to be very careful when your sensibilities and ideas have to become the language of the brand. Also it needs a very close monitoring and control. I live it 24/7. How Important is brand identity? Very, for me it’s the heartbeat of the brand. It is something your brand stands for. It clearly defines the do’s and don’t’s for me. In an industry where you have fashion weeks literally every week, how often do you reinvent the wheel? You showcase when you have something to say to the audience , a new thought that’s worth a ramp.

Is Inspiration a misused word in today’s fashion industry? It depends on brand-to-brand or designer-todesigner. I cant create without inspiration. That’s how the process starts for me the story seeks me and we create a collection , which is the final outcome of the creative process. Where do you see your label in the next five years? I need to sustain what I have created in the last few years. May be more products categories and more presence but an organic extension. How tough is survival for an off-beat brand, dealing with textiles and hand-looms? When I started it was difficult, hand-looms were not considered fashion it was mostly type casted. But this has very quickly changed over years. Indian women have started taking pride in Indian textiles. More and more designers are going back to the roots and giving Indian textiles a modern language. Who is the ideal Anavila Misra woman? A modern confident woman who knows herself. Who wears clothes which are an extension of her own personality and above all follows comfort / ease and elegance.


Carve Niche Create Explore Find Search...


in to the

-Rixi Bhatia // The Quirkbox

“The ability to influence is one of the most essential skills for leaders at all levels. For us, it’s more art than science and as we continue to morph (at breakneck speed) into an interconnected, interdependent, increasingly global workplace, influence will matter more. We are inspired individuals who thrive on what we observe on a day to day basis, channeling it all together and translating the observations into Art and Fashion. We believe that advocating our position and encouraging others with a sense of shared purpose of exciting possibilities helps us inspire young individuals.”

Influence

zooming

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meaning Identity “There clearly are two aspects to this, one in the personal context, which is a rite of passage in life and the other visual identity in a design context. Both involve initial stages of questioning, discovery and synthesis – looking at the past, present and future and larger social and cultural contexts to find answers. Both come down to defining the distinct characteristics and value in an individual or organization. We all express our identities visually – in the clothes we wear, the brands we buy and through social media. In an identity system, this information is synthesized into visual language (logo, colours, typography, brand line, prints, etc) to represent the core essence of an organization. At Quirk Box, our sole identity lies in the kind of prints we make, the colours we use and the silhouettes we work with!” --Jayesh Sachdev // The Quirkbox


// STAND OUT


Fashion Director // Harper’s Bazaar India Shoe Collector Fashion Victim Unicorn


EDWARD LALREMPUIA


When was the moment when you decided you wanted to be a fashion stylist? I used to style all my cousins when I was much younger but I never thought it as a profession nor did I know there were stylists. I realized it quickly enough in my second semester in NIFT. So how did you then take steps to become part of this world of fashion? I did all kinds of small jobs while in NIFT like backstage helper, assisting show directors. And I met a lot of creative people while doing this and started working together on projects and that’s how I became of this. You’ve worked with a lot of brands, Vogue, Elle, and now Harper’s Bazaar, how important a role does Brand Identity play when you are working with these brands? A lot goes to creating an identity for these brands. From the cover style to the cover girl to the content to layout and even the brands featured. Everything has been created and curated to cater to certain section of the society who relate to this identity or aspire to be. What’s the process like for doing a fashion shoot? A lot of things: From coming up with the concept and then to casting the right Model, photographer, make up and hair to finding the best location. And of course calling in all the clothes that you want for this shoot from all over the world. It’s a really stressful job but the results can be very satisfying. How is it different to style for print, than for other mediums? Print is easier because there is a lot you can cheat. For example if the dress is loose you can pin it up, if there’s a certain collar you want to stay in a certain way you stick it up etc etc whereas in films it’s moving so the fit has to perfect, everything needs to stay the same throughout the shoot. Where do you see the Indian Fashion Industry in the next five years? Well hopefully doing amazing business and more and more Indian fashion in the world map. One advice to young budding stylists? There is no short cut to working hard and if your work is good you will shine through. Do you prefer doing shoots around a story or a person? I’m more of a story person. How would you describe your style? Depends really. I like clean minimal stuff but I also can go quirky and fun. I love to play with colours. What do you find the most difficult about your job? To be really honest, I don’t really know. Every job has its ups and downs. All though being surrounded by all these fabulous clothes, fabulous people, fabulous places, it’s very easy to get caught up in all this but it’s important to get back to reality and stay grounded.


“Identity to me is what a person creates for himself or herself, a sense of individuality.�


“Power and influence means to have true intelligence, skill and talent and using them to be a force of change in society.� -Nitya Arora


(identity identified) mark knopfler // matthias lebeer


“Power and influence are both dangerous words… and using them together in your question further strengthens my point. Power and Influence used positively are greatly beneficial but sadly, both are often misused.” - JJ Valaya


Malini Agarwal better known to the world as Miss.Malini, is without a doubt, India’s most famous blogger; an independent, effervescent young woman who has turned a hobby into a business, desire into reality and a whole lot of passion and hard work into an enormously successful brand.


MALINI AGARWAL


What does identity mean to you? Identity is who you are. In a world of 7.125 billion people identity is what makes you unique, it’s what makes you, you. Beautiful, imperfect, fabulous you! What does the power of influence mean to you? Influence is a crazy thing. Just look at Bollywood! In some cases influence leads to hysteria even. But as cliché as it sounds, “with great power, comes great responsibility” so it’s very important to use your influence wisely and to always give more than you get in return. That is the true power of influence. If you make people happy, they will follow you forever! How important is brand identity to you? Again, as I said, identity is what sets you apart, so similarly for your brand it’s important to maintain recall value and quality so that people keep coming back and even recognize your product from the style and quality alone. In my case my whole brand is “Miss.Malini” and the world we have created around it, so it’s important that I maintain the integrity I started with.


When and why did you decide to go digital? Honestly, it was not a conscious decision, I have always been a bit of a geek so social media and the Internet in general was easy to navigate for me. When I started my blog it was mostly to find a creative outlet because I love to write. It just so happened that the time was right and I had amassed all the right skills to be able to build a blog on my own years before the craze hit India. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else! How important do you think it is for a brand to have a social media presence in today’s age? A social media presence today is critical. I was part of the first dot.com “bubble” and the one key difference then and now was the absence of social media. Which meant that even though people were creating fabulous content on their own islands nobody had a map. So eventually they all vanished. Today social media is your brand voice and your virtual avatar. It’s your digital identity and that is what gives you life on the Internet! Where do you see the Indian Fashion Industry in the next 5 years? Indian Fashion has long been a dichotomous industry with High Fashion and mass retail sitting at opposite ends of the spectrum. With the proliferation of Internet access and the rise of e-commerce in the country, this gap will shrink and you will see high fashion becoming more accessible to the masses through diffusion lines. You will also see the rise of many more stars who, because of the exposure through social media and online coverage, will emerge on the scene here and abroad! And I’m very excited to be part of it! And the brand Miss.Malini in 5yrs? In 5 years I hope brand Miss.Malini represents the very best of what young India loves and has to offer the world. A new media company that helps digital Indians connect with everything they’re passionate about today, and where they discover the things that excite them tomorrow. At the moment we focus on Bollywood, Fashion and Lifestyle. In 5 years that will vastly expand to cover many more categories, across many more platforms. Most of all, I want the brand to maintain it’s fun, independent and creative spirit, and I hope it becomes just one of many companies that inspires young Indians to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams.

How would you describe the term ‘social media influencer’ and who is that one person in India according to you who fits the bill? A social media influencer is someone with a trusting and loyal following on the Internet who can genuinely engage their audiences with the content they create or the conversations they start. There are so many examples of good social media influencers that it would be difficult and biased of me to name one or two. But in India, aside from Bollywood celebrities, I think people like AIB currently best capture what it means to have a genuine and loyal fan following online, plus they are so much fun to follow! What have been some of the toughest challenges about being a digital brand? I guess the toughest thing is that you essentially have to live two lives! Which is why you’re often the person at dinner rudely looking down at your phone while everyone else is talking to each other. It’s a commitment you make to always be available to your social media audience just like you live in the real world. I struggle with that sometimes but on the while it’s all kinds of awesome! An advice you would give fellow bloggers? Fellow bloggers, welcome to the party! First up congratulations that you live in a time where virtually anything is possible. You can take your passion and make it your life and how amazing is that. My only word of caution to you would be don’t become a blogger for the freebies or the money. First find something that you are truly passionate about, something you’d do even if no one paid you to do it and then make it your life and I promise you’ll be richer for it (personally and financially too!) Also it’s important to treat your readers with respect, don’t blog for the sake of it, take the time to produce regular, quality content and spell check! (Oh and also try not to take yourself so seriously, we’re all here to learn, love and share, remember that).


“Identity, for me, is a clear understanding of oneself. It is born of a set of various factors; genetics, exposure, education, influences. It is not necessarily a static concept, but a subtly dynamic one. It is the DNA that distinguishes a brand from all others. As a creative person, the work one does is a cathartic expression of self. That inherently distinguishes a creative person’s work. For me, identity is the common thread that links all my work. Whether it is colour, texture, motif placement or even a sense of proportion; one’s handwriting is reflected through every product.” - Nachiket Barve


“Your influence is based on your identity - its power increasing with how many social groups you come in contact with and how much your opinion can affect change in those groups. If you find yourself in a position of power, you can affect change. This change can be for your benefit, for a certain group’s benefit or for the benefit of society at large. But every idea can have negative impacts too. The power of influence thus comes with a great responsibility, often ignored by people.” - Dhruv Kapur


PERCEPTION // IDENTIFICATION (KATE MOSS // MERT & MARCUS// VOGUE PARIS)


Identity “Being yourself, your inner most beliefs, letting your core show... That is your true identity.� -Anaita Shroff Adajania


“The power to influence is a responsibility. It requires sensitivity and intelligence to ensure that it does not have negative results.� -David Abraham

INFLUENCE


ANAN H U J A


D

He pops Perrier while you pop PĂŠrignon. Ahuja is the man behind contempary fashion label bhane.


What does identity mean to you? •Story •Consistency •Comprehensive personality •Omnipresent What does the power of influence mean to you? •Responsibility •Whoever has the power of influence has the responsibility to communicate with society in a way that will empower, encourage and facilitate the individuals to create and contribute. Whoever has the power of influence has the responsibility to help others get the power of influence. You created a brand called bhane. with a strong sense of brand identity, how important do you think is brand identity for a brand? •It is everything! •Brand identity is what allows the whole team to work towards one goal – without brand identity, the marketing, design, and merchandising teams may all be working towards a different target. •The better the brand identity is defined, the more effectively the team can work towards achieving it. •Also, with such a crowded retail market, it is important to make sure the brand is articulate in communicating what it stands for so that the customers don’t get confused. You’ve worked abroad in the fashion retail industry, and now with a label here, how would you compare the two fashion worlds? •We believe that style is universal…One of the reasons we started bhane was because we saw that people in India had the same tastes and desires as my peers in NY but they didn’t have access to the same quality and style of clothing. •Sure there are differences in terms of India not being as efficient in the workplace but that is not something that is innate to us – it is just that our professional systems are young and underdeveloped. With the right systems, our workplaces can also get more effective. Do you think social media is a boon or not and why? •What is a boon? •Social media is real. It started with Facebook and that became too planned so Instagram took over. It was raw. As it has become mass and companies are able to “exploit” it, the focus has gone to Snapchat. Companies have not figured out how to “automate” Snapchat yet, so social media is a powerful tool for brands to show people what they really are.


How important is it to keep the commercial factor alive, while doing off-beat stuff? •I can’t believe I’m quoting Kanye but he recently said “There is no money in innovation…” He went on to say that money comes from repetition. •We know we need to stay young and relevant and of course we will continue to design aggressively, but also we realize that people need basic it’s and shirts and pants and we have to make sure we can provide that for the mass. What is your take on marketing, do you believe that influence can only be seen? •Marketing is meant just to communicate what the brand is about…we try to be as real and honest with our marketing. Where do you see the Indian fashion Industry in the next 5 years? •Continued increase of young designers in apparel, art, design, photography etc. •Continued interest in brand-focused shopping (instead of disorganized retail) •Indians looking to expand outside of the Indian market •Outside designers looking to get involved in India! What do you feel about Social Media Influencers? •As long as they use their power to communicate responsibly – it is great! •They also have power of influence and so they need to make sure that in order to keep the respect of the reader, they need to communicate a consistent story. The things they choose not to write about must be as important as those they do write about. •Integrity is important and while short term it is sometimes hard to see that, long term integrity always works out! Do you believe the way forward is digital? •Digital is one part of the puzzle •Traditional is still very much relevant and brands must serve the market via both avenues.


spellbound // steven meisel


actions be louder than words...


“An awakened individuality is what sums up as identity. The power of influence is making valid social commentary in a world full of excess judgment. Brand identity acts as a start point to this commentary. The authority to voice out an opinion or a product.� -Anand Bhushan


“The power of influence is dangerous. It is a double edge sword. But if used correctly it can change the world and make it a better place! You have a choice. You can either use it like Hitler or like Gandhi.� -Rohit Bal


Sita Wadhwani is one of our industry's brightest digital thinkers. Formerly the digital editor of Vogue.in and Mumbai's CNNGo.com, she is on top of the digital game like no other.


SITA WADHWANI


What does identity mean to you? I tend to think of identity as karmic flux. Meaning, who I am today, is not who I will be tomorrow depending on the choices I make in the now. Of late I’ve also learned to ‘let go’ in a profound way. To trust in circumstances out of my control that however affect how I perceive myself and how others perceive me (my identity). In this way I now allow my identity to find me, instead of the other way around. Living with so much control started to become too exhausting a way to live. What does the power of influence mean to you? The power of influence starts with a confidence in knowing what you know. When you feel self-belief you can express yourself in a way that influences others. This isn’t a spontaneous process. You need to put in the effort to build a life and personality that impresses YOU first. The power of influence follows quickly behind this sequence of events. How did you become the digital editor for Vogue.In? Were you sceptical to take up a digital medium, being one of the first people to take a leading fashion magazine in India online? I had been feeling in parts bored and constrained by story-telling exclusively in print mediums and terms. I turned to digital publishing with a position as city editor for CNN’s travel website in 2009, where I cut my teeth. Becoming digital editor at Vogue India gave me the opportunity to further expand my skills as a multi-media editor, managing a larger team and portfolio of digital channels. Here I led website content but also social media, developing Vogue event micro-sites and digital editions of the magazine, as well as working on apps and

video content. I was not sceptical. I was actively seeking the challenge to create a team of digitally trained writers and publishing systems, to bring the world of Vogue to a whole new online audience. How did you get where you are today? I figured the earlier I started learning about digital publishing -- in practice -- the better. CNN had me managing travel content for my city section (Mumbai) alone. No team. I was given a budget and had to outsource all the content. The ideation, commissioning, editing, news writing, uploading, art direction were all up to me, everyday. It was exhausting. But I learned the ins and outs. Next I wanted to experiment with taking a prestigious print publication like Vogue India digital, with a team behind me for a change! I soon felt it was better to aim straight for the creative top job in a digital native business, where I could set the pace. I am now Creative Digital Director at Arvind Internet Limited, working on a brand new omni-channel fashion shopping experience. What excites you about digital media? The rapid development, dynamism and ‘aliveness’ of the medium excites me with all the creative possibilities for content and revenue models. I also find the dialogue between technologists and editors an interesting one, for the possibilities it opens up for new content formats. Equally exciting is the non-stop interaction between the editors and their audience, combining powers to co-evolve how best to serve the latter. What frightens you about digital media? The same thing that excites me. Namely that it’s ‘living’ and thus requires constant feeding, maintenance, listening to,


tweaking and re-tweaking. Every time you publish a single piece of content online or launch a new product you give birth to a new feedback loop. It can be pretty all consuming. As a profit-making business, online publishing has the tendency to lean towards quantity over quality. So where do you draw the boundaries to keep trust with your audience? How has digital media allowed you to create better content? It’s not digital media that has allowed us to create better content. It’s being connected to each other that has. To be inspired by your audience (and how they behave online) and to be inspired by the collective creative population on the world wide web. That girl producing her own make-up video tutorial at home. That guy designing his own video game. What are the biggest opportunities for fashion brands when it comes to digital content development? It’s not enough to produce great multimedia fashion content. It’s not enough to design great fashion merchandise. It’s not enough to develop a powerful technological platform. The big opportunity lies in getting all three right and offering and orienting your business as a service. The audience wants to know how you can improve their life, not your business. How important a role does the concept of brand identity play in the digital world? I am so tired of the word brand. Just pronouncing it makes me ill. It makes me think of an even worse word: consumerism and the end of the road of this way of living. Only people -- not spin-doctored brands --- with honest hearts, clear identities and value-for-money products should survive in

the coming world. Communicating these ‘new values’ effectively online requires the soul of a brand to be translated through all touch points. What have been some of the greatest challenges you faced while at Vogue.In? Finding the right external partners to work with in India that could match Vogue’s high standards for content -- be it UI/UX designers, developers, SEO experts, social media strategists. Internally, it’s the same challenge most digital publishers are facing -- finding a way to make the digital revenue model self-sustainable. What do you think of social media influencers? Who do you think qualifies as one to be an influencer in the world of fashion? A good social media influencer in fashion in India is someone like Anaita Shroff Adajania. Whatever your personal opinion of her style sense may be, being Vogue’s fashion director and a top Bollywood costume stylist Anaita commands clout as a style expert on multiple national platforms. She then leverage’s this position using Instagram and Twitter to share access to the country’s most glamorous people and events, while offering a perspective on what ‘style’ means to a country in the midst of its big coming out party on an individual level.


“IDENTITY is 1.Point Of view. Legacy. 2. Professionally; letting people subscribe to your point of you, allowing them to partake in your ecosystem.” -KALLOL DATTA


‘Identity’ The word itself gives me shivers. It rings of calm, comfort, contentedness. What is it, identity? To know where you belong? To know your self worth? To know who you are? How do you recognise identity? We are creating an image of ourselves. We are attempting to resemble this image...Is that what we call identity? The accord between the image we have created of ourselves and...Ourselves. Just who is, ‘ourselves’? - Yohji Yamamoto


PUZZLING IDENTITIES // MARTIN O’NEILL


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AISHWARYA SUBRAMANYAM

EDITOR // ELLE INDIA CAT LOVER // PEOPLE FASHION COLUMNIST CATS // CATS // CATS


What does identity mean to you? To me, it means how you see yourself when no one is watching, and no one is judging you. Unfortunately that’s more than a little idealistic, as such a vacuum doesn’t exist for most of us. So identity becomes how you want the world to see you. What does the power of influence mean to you? I think it means that people trust you, and you should do your best to not let them down. Do you think that studying something completely unrelated to fashion as a student has positively impacted your career? What advice do you have for students who want to delve into career fields coming from (what they might perceive as) irrelevant educational backgrounds? What’s nice about studying one subject and making a career out of another is that it gives you great perspective. The fashion world can be an insular one, and you need to look at what’s outside the bubble, or you will stay disconnected. I don’t think you should ever let what you have studied in the past keep you from what you want to do in the now (or the future). Take a chance, dammit.


You run a commercial fashion magazine, yet manage to make it offbeat and extremely relevant, how? I have a brilliant team, and each of them understands the brand almost instinctively. Any magazine is a reflection of the people who work on it, and I think we’re really just a bunch of looks who love fashion (and hate that it intimidates people), love a laugh and love good writing. We create content that we would want to read, which I think is what makes ELLE offbeat while still relevant, inclusive and of course, commercial. Describe the general process you go through to pick what is in and create content. Once the international and Indian fashion weeks are done, you have a pretty good idea of the trends you’re working with. For the magazine, the team meets once a month to discuss which trends and fashion stories are most relevant to our readers, and how we can best present them; that’s really where it begins. For the website, we meet to discuss content every day, based on what is topical. What’s your favourite part about taste making and chronicling fashion? I love introducing readers to new voices in art, culture and design, new ways of approaching trends, new ways to demystify fashion. How important do you think is Brand Identity, what are some of the difficulties you face while trying to put across your views, yet staying committed to not letting be out of context for your magazine, Elle? Brand identity is paramount. We are always trying to balance what the reader wants with what we want them to want; we will push the envelope on what can and cannot be said, and sometimes take the contrary view. ELLE doesn’t take itself too seriously, and we like a bit of fun, so we are able to be more playful and experimental than many others. What are your strengths and weaknesses as an editor? My strength really is my team, I couldn’t do it alone. Weaknesses are many, including frequent bouts of impostor syndrome. Is globalization-making fashion boring? No, I think it’s making fashion more accessible. What advice do you have for aspiring fashion editors in India? Work. Just work. Find a brand that resonates with you and put in the hours. And don’t expect instant stardom. It takes time and experience to get where you want to. Where do you see fashion journalism in India in the next 5 years? I see it growing, but not in the way we are used to thus far. The digital age really has changed everything. But that’s a whole other conversation. What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learnt running a magazine? That people still read.  


“Identity is our deep-rooted consciousness defines our identity. It is a clear definition of ones character, forever exposed in spite of the multiple masks an individual may wear to be socially acceptable. It’s the real you, that never goes unnoticed.” -Dhruv Kapoor

// “Influence is indeed a strong word with a stronger impact. The power of influence allows you to choose a path to follow. It could have negative or positive outcomes. We interpret the power of influence as the extent to a strong desire to walk in someone else’s shoes and follow a direction, which has a predictable ending.” -Hemant & Nandita

// “Identity to me is a single handed, individualistic power to influence; it is what makes us who we are. Marry personality, the right attitude and some self-confidence to that identity, and you have The Power to Influence - how you use that power is what gives you your identity!” -Kayaan Contractor


PERCIEVE // DECIPHER // ARIAN BEHZADI


s It i . ion can t i os you ate p ur nce voc o d y ue a u l yo f inf d an s ive er o e an g e pow oic ry. “ c en ve e v ust ll u l u b Inf u ha der r ind som f r o n yo lea you ta As e w he ght for Suja o P “ ly w ou on a th be

“Identity to me is clarity. Not in terms of how I wish/ want people to perceive me but in terms of own thoughts about my individuality. “ -Kanika Goyal


NITASHA GAURAV (Celebrity Stylist // Fashion Enthusiast // Part Time Gardner // Occassional Poet))


What does identity mean to you? Identity involves both being distinct as well as belonging. Physical attributes like skin colour, shape of ones face and its features, the colour of ones hair, what one is wearing, the language one speaks and in what accent all attribute the identity of a nationality or race or cultural group to a person. But within that, there is a desire to have a unique (not always distinct) identity - to be similar but not the same. Identity, to me, therefore is a balance of the two - something that lets me belong but doesn’t consume me. What does the power of influence mean to you? One would like to believe one is beyond outside influence, but even to reject influence is a form of influence. How much it is able to dictate your choices either way, is the power of influence. So how did you then take steps to become part of this world of fashion? I come from a family that was always interested in fashion. I remember copies of Vogue in my house, back in the day when access to international magazines were very limited. My mother n grandmother would plan my clothes every season, so right from my childhood I was clued into changes in wardrobe every spring, summer, autumn and winter. I grew up and got a masters degree in textiles and clothing. Along the way I studied product development at FIT, New York. A couple of years down the line, I got interested in writing and went on to study Fashion Journalism at LCF, London.


Why and when did you decide to become a personal celebrity stylist compared to an editorial one? I worked as the fashion editor of Femina for four years and had the opportunity to do both celebrity styling as well as editorial shoots. The transition to working independently as a celebrity stylist was not planned. I felt I needed to do something different after working for a magazine that did 27 issues a year plus other verticals, so I quit and almost immediately did my first cover shoot with Neha Dhupia for FHM. And so it went, one thing led to another and here I am. None of it was planned, it happened very organically. How different is personal styling from styling for a magazine? I find it easier for one. The personal interaction makes it more interesting and focussed, you are dealing with a personality and not a mass of readers. In magazine shoots, often one is required to accommodate certain brands or designers, that’s something one doesn’t necessarily have to do in personal styling. How do you think Instagram has changed celebrity styling? Is there now less room for error? You can’t please all the people all the time. You might be the rip-est, juiciest, sweetest peach in the world - but there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches. Moral of the story - you have to like what you’ve done. The person wearing it has to like it. Possibly a couple of other stake-holders. The rest will follow. People pleasing is impossible and best avoided - twitter, Instagram, Facebook, blogs notwithstanding. What do most people not know about what it takes to be a celebrity stylist? Its all sweat and blood, and very little glamour. You work long hard hours, you research, connect, design, go for meetings, plan, source, do trials and fittings, go on shoots - on loop. You have little to no personal life, and can only do it if you really really love it. How do you deal with all the negative-criticism, I mean they lash it out on the celebrity and it sometimes surely trickles down to you? It used to bother me earlier but now I pay no attention to either the bouquets or brickbats. The level of scrutiny on social media is insane. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and everyone is shouting it out - I would go mad if I listened to every one of them - all strangers at that. I do value the opinion of certain people and will pay heed to what they say - the celebrity most importantly, my peers, editors, experts. But not the cacophony on social media. What is the process involved in dressing up a client? You get a brief for what the event is - you have a chat with the client about it and discuss some ideas - you research further and get an idea in place - you speak to designers/ brands - source options - have a trial - firm up a look - get the look ready - dress the celebrity. Where do you find inspiration for dressing up a person? Mostly from their own personalities. Unlike models, celebrities are much more than gorgeous clothes horses - you have to incorporate their own personalities into your ideas. What works for one will not work with another. I also don’t like pushing my personal tastes onto them - that would mean all the celebrities I dressed would end up looking alike. So I always factor in their own personal likes and dislikes into their looks, let them shine through. That’s what makes them distinct and also comfortable in what they are wearing. What do you think of social media influencers, do you think you’re one? I couldn’t say. I don’t like getting too caught up in all this. I prefer to keep it simple and grounded. Its my work n I do it. That’s how I like keeping it. How difficult was it to establish yourself in the position you hold today? I kept my nose to the grind and worked. The rest followed.


INFLUENTIAL IDENTITY // DAVID BECKHAM


BOUTIQUE ACTOR // BOW TIE CONNOISSEUR // GRAMMAR NAZI


RAHUL KHANNA


What does identity mean to you? Having a point of view. What does the power of influence mean to you? Passion is inspiring and influences me. When someone feels strongly about something, it’s infectious. You’re labelled (and voted) as the best dressed male in India, any comments? India has great taste! How much effort and thought is put into every look? A medium amount. It’s mostly refining. Working with a tailor on alterations to make sure the fit is right. Making sure everything is clean and pressed and polished. And choosing the right accessories. A Fashion era you would have loved to witness? The 1950s and 60s. You’re a brand in yourself, how important do you think is the concept of brand identity? It’s about having principles and being ruthless in living by them so that it’s clear what you’re all about and what you represent. What is your take on the Indian Fashion Industry? Beautiful craftsmanship and creativity. What is one element that you identify with most in your wardrobe, and personality? A well-fitted suit. Do you think with the rise social media, identities have become stronger or weaker? Identities have always been strong. With social media, they’re just more public. One is able to disseminate ones point of view more easily. How would you describe your identity? Whether they’re on clothes or used to describe people, I hate labels. I’m me. Do I really need more than that?


-Shweta Kapur

“Being true to yourself. As an individual. This applies to everything from the written word to the spoken voice. From design to creation.” -Nonita Kalra

“Identity to me is something that defines you, what you represent and where you come from.” -Manish Mishra

“For me identity is fundamental to a person’s being, a means of establishing one’s individuality in all aspects of their lifestyle, a personality to one’s physical form - something that makes others remember you. Identity is, essentially, repetition and memory. But even without memory, there still needs to be repetition. Personally, my identity is who I believe myself to be, and sometimes, who I strive to be on a personal and professional level. It is the very core of how I communicate my existence.” -Mohini Boparai Guleria

iDENTITY

“Identity is figuring out who I am and then communicating that. And that can change from time to time because you keep getting influenced from your environment.”


iNFLUENCE

“Influence is the power to build awareness, to educate and to change mindsets.” -Rimzim Dadu

“Power of influence to me is the medium to affect change in little, subtle ways that last longer in the bigger picture.” -Marv D’Souza

“Identity is what you think you’re projecting on others but in reality, it’s what others think of you. Funny, they’re not always the same thing.” -Charu Gaur

“A person of powerful Influence is such a subjective thing because to a society it could be an aggressive leader..To a boy it could be his mother.” -Shyma Shetty

“The power of influence, to me, is the act of making a difference in such a manner that it affects another. It could be affecting a large group of people or a single person, doesn’t matter. In simpler words, when my body of work affects another individual and strikes a chord with them, it is the power of influence that has created it to be so.” -Nikhil Thampi


Author Fashion Travel Food Cats Shoes Harper’s Bazaar


Nishat Fatima


What does identity mean to you? It means an attitude or feeling or perception that tells you without words what you stand for. What does the power of influence mean to you? The ability to influence you to buy something or follow a trend. In fashion, this rests with a few trendsetters, and it is always of a moment – there is no perennial power of influence. Nishat, you’re also an author, how different are these two professional roles in your life different, i.e. the role of being an author and an editor? How do you identify with each? Both roles have some things in common. The ability to write, edit, to have an overall view of where the story is going. It’s sort of similar to bringing out a magazine. The main difference between the two is that one involves a lot of dealings with the outside world and for the other; you can sit at home and pound things out. One requires a large wardrobe, and the other, shorts and a T-shirt. There’s no separation for me between these two roles – they are me, and they both spring from my ability to write. How do you include the cerebral element in the magazine, what is that fine line that divides between being superfluous and intellectual? There’s only one thing that drives every story in the magazine – what does the reader get out of this. If the reader doesn’t get anything out of it something, it’s superfluous, if they are getting a new concept or idea from it, it’s intellectual.

What does brand identity mean to you, and how tough is it to take decisions based on this for the brand? Brand identity is what separates one magazine from the other. It’s a fairly clear line of dos and do not for the magazine. Once you are clear about your brand identity, decision rather than being tough become very easy because you know exactly what it is you can and cannot do. Fashion is supposed to be a woman empowering field, what do you think we can actually do to empower women in this industry? I don’t know that fashion has claimed to be a field that empowers women. What it does is offer a choice to women about the way they dress and since most fashion magazines are also women’s magazines, they carry stories that can enlighten as well as shine the spotlight on inspirational women. Describe the general process you go through to pick what is in and create content. All fashion content begins with what is shown at Indian and international fashion weeks. These decide stories and trends for the coming season. Along with that we always have our ear to the ground to see what is happening in Indian society, as that is also part of the magazine’s content. Where do you see Harper’s Bazaar, India in the next five years? Harper’s Bazaar is a very distinct brand – it’s a magazine meant for a reader who has developed her own style and has the power to buy. She is looking for a curation of the best of Indian and international fashion that works for her. That is exactly what Bazaar is and will be in the future as well.


Do you think social influencers and social media makes a difference, or is just another phase? Social media and online influencers are a fairly new phenomenon. They have been around for 4-5 years in the mainstream. As a comparison, a magazine like Harper’s Bazaar has been around for almost 150. Internationally social media influencers have large followings, and for their followers they have become a reference of how to put a look together. For the brands, they are another route to reach an audience. Whether they will remain relevant is still undecided – for example Twitter is declining, young people are leaving Facebook because their parents are coming on it. What happens then to the people with the mammoth followings on these platforms? What’s your favourite part about taste-making and chronicling fashion? Fashion is my favourite part. To know what’s happening first, but more importantly to be moved by some beautiful new creation, or a mindblowing show.


“Let’s do what we love, AND DO A LOT OF IT.” -Marc Jacobs


Identity to me means the inner most being of my soul. It’s where I stem from. // Influence to me means the power to make the smallest of changes however significant or insignificant it might be to another person’s life. -Rasna Bhasin


Statements  

Statements is a visual journey, delving into the minds of some of the finest Influential Identities in the world of Fashion, and discovering...

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