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April - May 2005


Fashion: Interview with Ashish Gupta

by Sandeep Sharma

From a previous issue of India link you will note that I covered London fashion week last September. During which I was very pleased to see an Indian designer put on an amazing show at London fashion week. After the show I decided I had to meet up with him and find out more about his success at storming London fashion week.

I met Asish one rainy afternoon in a West End coffee shop. I found him sitting reading a book since I was a few minutes’ late (thanks to the rain!) The immediate impression that struck me was how pleasant, young and down to earth Asish appeared. Unlike some designers I found Asish to be very approachable and not at all affected by his success.

Asish now divides his time between London and Delhi (where his garments are produced) Asish grew up in Delhi and studied Fine Art at Delhi University, after this he moved to England to study a BA fashion design course at Middlesex University. During this period Asish managed to obtain an apprenticeship with one of London’s leading designers Zandra Rhodes. He then went onto study and MA in fashion design at London prestigious Central St Martins in 2000.

Following graduation Asish went to Paris armed with his portfolio to try his luck and find a job. However, fate took a twist and while at Gare du Nord station in Paris his portfolio was stolen. Although at the time naturally Asish was upset since he was unable to go to any fashion job interview in Paris without his portfolio therefore he had no choice but to return back to India and once there decided to make a mini collection and by the end of 2001 he returned to London with this mini collection.

Whilst in London a friend of Asish who viewed his collection said she knew someone working in the fashion department of Tank magazine (a highly respected fashion glossy) Asish went to meet the lady at Tank and she loved his collection so much so that she ended up buying a jacket.

As luck would have it whilst wearing the jacket one day the lady went out shopping and ended up in top London boutique, Browns where the buyer for the store happened to be on the shop floor, enquired about the jacket and ended up placing an order an stocking Asish’s garments.

This episode highlights Asish’s spiritual side and belief in destiny; as he put it himself had his portfolio not been stolen he would have probably still been in Paris working for somebody else. He strongly believes that if something bad happens there is a reason for it and usually something good waiting round the corner for the person.

His friend who wore the jacket went to a fashion show in Tokyo and was photographed by many of the press there. Also prominent Japanese Fashion journalist Keiko Hiyamol was one of them as she started selling in Japan.

Gen Art, a charity organisation based in New York which helps sponsor new talent contacted Asish after scouting for talented up and coming designers and sponsored him in 2002 to showcase to New York; this led to greater public exposure and sales orders in the States. By 2003 Asish was selling in London, Canada, USA, Italy, France and Japan and then came his big show in London this year.

It’s remarkable that in London Asish is only three seasons old. Last September Asish did his first on schedule show sponsored by Top Shop New Gen and stormed the London Fashion week catwalk show. Last February again Asish showed on schedule during in London fashion week for autumn winter 2005 once more to rave reviews. The premier London fashion store, Selfridges, this month held its Afro-Chic month showcasing this seasons key trends including Tribal, ethnic influences Asish is one of the few designers to grace the windows of Selfridges.
I was surprised to see that Asish had taken all the success matter of factly and was not at all carried away by his achievements.

He said he was proud to put India on the fashion map seriously. He had always wanted to establish himself as a designer to be taken seriously on an international level. As a child he would go through his mother’s Vogue magazines dreaming that one day he could design clothes that would be stocked and shopped next to other international designers.

Of course his whole family is proud of him and his achievements. He has a younger brother and parents living in Delhi. In fact his mother, an ex-Doctor, now looks after his production in Delhi.

I asked him what he misses most about India and he replied the food! Although he agreed London has very good Indian restaurants he did say on a daily basis regarding takeaway establishments that you can’t beat India. I then asked him what he loves about London and Asish having pondered for a moment said “If you are a creative person London is a very exciting city to be in, since there is always a lot going on here.”

I was impressed to hear that Asish is carefully monitoring the growth of his label so that he can handle his production thus ensuring the public get a good quality product and the shops receive delivery on time.

Some famous celebrities that have worn Asishs creations include:

Gold Frapp
Jerry Hall
Liz Jagger
Sharon Stone
Sophie Ellis Bextor
Mina Suvari

Time really did fly by talking to Asish, and as we walked out into the raining street Asish said he needed a holiday and was thinking about going to Brazil since he has to prepare for his next collection for the next London Fashion Week in September and no doubt the increase of orders globally as well as other international shows and exhibitions. I for one hope Asish gets to have his holiday since this new start has an exciting and very busy year ahead.

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