Based in South Delhi, the label Shalini Chauhan is classy, elegant and sophisticated. She marries both the old and new when it comes to her designs and creates magic. Inspired by nature, India’s rich heritage and culture, paintings and architecture, Shalini likes to create garments that are stylish and condusive to the diverse weather in India.
Shalini is currently working on taking her jewelry and garment collection to a global scale.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
Inspiration is all around me. I draw inspiration from nature, our rich Indian heritage and culture, the diverse customs and traditions of our country. I am a romantic and I get inspired by people & places – it could be a smile, the look in someones eyes, flowers, oceans, sunsets!
The fabrics in our country, paintings, architecture, the Victorian era, the royal families and the way they dressed in the olden era – I touch a fabric or see a motif and I know exactly what I want to make. It’s magical.
If you are a creative person, you will get inspiration from different sources as you grow and evolve. It’s not permanent, it keeps changing and flowing as you move on from one season to the next.
What are the key elements for you when designing a collection for each season?
The most important factor is the climate and the fabrics. I don’t blindly follow the seasonal trends. Every creative person has a distinct style and that remains a constant in all their collections. However, I like blending the new with the old.
I usually name my collections, my latest collection was called “Ode to a princess”. The entire collection was in ivory, cream and white with gota patti, long flowing anarkalis in soft flowing fabrics, shararas, long skirts with long and short flowing kurtas with light zardozi and patri work – inspired by the Mughal Era.
So I design each collection keeping our very diverse climate in mind and the fabrics conducive to the weather. The colors I use depend entirely on the theme that I am working on.
What challenges did you face when launching your brand?
I have been in the garment industry for over 25 years. My family was in the export business. I lived in New York and when I moved back to India, I launched my label and I was fortunate that Ogan instantly kept my collection way back in 1997. However, I took a sabbatical from my own label after a few years and focused on my export business, where I was handling all the designing and product development. A few years back, I relaunched my label and opened a store in South Delhi.
It was difficult because the fashion industry had changed and evolved and grown, not only were there so many more designers but the market was and continues to be full of whole sellers. It was then the need of the hour to create a distinct difference and work towards creating a brand awareness. My biggest challenge was how to create something spectacular and keep it very affordable. I worked very hard and with the grace of God, I overcame all the small hurdles. I feel blessed because my team of workers have been very hardworking and performed well. I could not have done it without them.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to share a quote “IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH – TELL HIM YOUR FUTURE PLANS”.
On a serious note, I had launched my travel jewelry line a couple of years back. I designed the jewelry keeping destination weddings in mind. I want to focus a little more on my jewelry collection and hopefully go global with both my jewelry collection and garments.
What do you think are the keys to professional and business success for women in India?
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities. Have the confidence and strength to follow your dreams. Don’t get influenced by the people who bring you down. Dream big and work hard to make them come true. Family support is another huge factor, a lot of women don’t have the support of their families and have to struggle to stand up for themselves. Fortunately, the mind set of people has changed over the years and families are more supportive of their girls who wish to pursue a career.
What advice would you give to young women readers who want to follow a similar career path as you?
The most important advice I can share is what my parents gave me, ” This life is a beautiful gift given to us, cherish it and live it to the fullest. Dream big and follow your dreams. Have faith in yourself, don’t compromise on your values and principals.
Work hard and stand up for yourself with dignity.”
My fathers favorite quote is “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle, khuda bande se khud puche, bata teri raza kya hai.”
“Develop yourself in such a way, that before every decree God will ascertain from you, what is your wish?”
What sparked your interest in fashion?
My first inspiration was my mother. She always dressed elegantly and so did my grand mother. Their style and grace developed a need to create my own. I used to make clothes for my dolls and as I grew older, started styling my own wardrobe. The key elements being classy, elegant and very sophisticated.
I was fortunate enough to travel abroad since I was a child and was exposed to the international fashion world at a very young age and that opened up my mind. I realized there was a bigger world out there and I wanted to be a part of it.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
I have learnt that it is a tough and very competitive industry but if you have faith and belief in yourself, nothing can stop you.
Be original and stay focused.
How would you describe your brand?
Classy, elegant, sophisticated and very affordable. When I style my clients, I don’t blindly follow the seasonal trends, I create the garments to suit the person. The person wearing the clothes has to identify with the outfit. they have to feel comfortable and enjoy what they are wearing.
What are your views on how Indian women understand fashion?
We have come a long way, Indian women are now more aware of fashion – not just Indian fashion but global styles and trends as well. All thanks to the exposure on TV, social media, travel and education, the minds have opened up and women are more receptive to the ever changing and evolving fashion trends. They are willing to break free from the old stereotypical style of dressing and are open to the more modern and trendy way of dressing.
However, I feel women should not follow seasonal trends blindly, but dress according to their body, age and their own style.
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