“We target human emotion through each of our offerings. It is more than the outer appearance, it is always about how it makes you feel,” explains Indian designer Dhruv Kapoor of his brilliantly exuberant collections. A quick scroll through his Instagram account and you’ll be hard pressed to find a surface that isn’t embroidered, embellished or printed—a design signature that has been influenced by Kapoor’s Indian heritage. “Odd pairings, pattern and handcrafted embroideries and sometimes a combination of all three are hallmarks of a Dhruv Kapoor design,” he says. Here, we speak to the designer about his start in fashion, the beauty of juxtapositions, and the future of sustainability in fashion—challenges included.
GRAZIA Singapore: Tell us more about your start in fashion. What was the initial spark that led you to pursue a career in the industry and how would you describe your journey to get to where you are now?
Dhruv Kapoor: I remember as far back as middle school, when I was obsessed with how one could communicate simply through their clothes and how we could utilise this power to project our personality in fantastical ways, where language would be limiting. I was clear that I would work in this field and started to envision hypothetical milestones ever since. I researched on great masters in the field: how to get things done, how to have an expansive thought process and how to never give up. It’s been a joyride so far—full of learnings, experiences and insightful encounters and there is not a single day (until now) that I wish to skip work.
GRAZIA Singapore: You’re most well known for your gender fluid designs and eclectic prints, graphics and fabrics—so much so that there’s something so instantly recognisable about the aesthetic you’ve crafted with your brand. What is your approach to designing a collection each season and how does each season fit into the bigger picture of your vision for the brand?
Dhruv Kapoor: My team and I are never really intentional on where we need to arrive seasonally, it is the process that is the most inspiring part and we are often surprised by where it takes us. One of the things I enjoy the most while building a collection is to take something that I completely dislike and then work around it until I fall in love with it and believe it or not—print was one such thing. I was a fan of minimal or no print clothing and I am amazed that now, without print, I feel incomplete. We ensure to push our boundaries each season and coat everything with a spiritual undercurrent—exploring the psychological impact of colour, shape and stroke on the human psyche, how to trigger certain emotions through certain motifs and how to ensure mental wellbeing without making it obvious. During our design process we would normally aim to find the point where two polar concepts would collide and explore that point of solidarity through multiple mediums. It has never been about gender, age, origin or social and political restraints—emotion is our true target.
GRAZIA Singapore: Sustainability has been a big part of your brand. What does sustainability in fashion mean to you, and what change do you wish to see down the line when it comes to sustainable fashion?
Dhruv Kapoor: Re-visit, re-invent and re-pair. For me, personally it is always about streamlining operations at the office to arrive at the most efficient methods to reduce negative environmental impact. The options are endless and all we need to do is focus on the correct path to take with each of our decisions. We always aim for building versatile products that can be modified and re-worn multiple times in many different ways and from day to night. Initially, this shift was a challenge but now, we enjoy this challenge.
GRAZIA Singapore: Something I find very interesting in your brand is the recurring juxtapositions that can be found throughout your collections. From mixing sweatpants with a tailored jacket to having Indian artisans work on your very futuristic designs, there’s always an interplay between contrasting elements. Is this something that you actively seek to create or is it a natural byproduct of your design process?
Dhruv Kapoor: My team and I always explore the point of collision between two polar concepts. Like our upcoming show in January 2024 explores the thin line between sport and couture—where our aim is that of oneness. There is a lot of hit and trial throughout our design process and that’s the most interesting part of putting things together and being surprised by some of the results. Odd pairings are my personal favourite: how to plant unexpected elements on an otherwise boring ensemble and bring it to life by birthing a new aesthetic. I honestly feel everything already exists—every style of shirt, trouser, skirt etc. It always boils down to our version, our combination of aesthetics through which we can communicate with global audiences.
GRAZIA Singapore: What advice would you give to aspiring designers hoping to make it to Fashion Week?
Dhruv Kapoor: Always be authentic to yourself. Consistency always pays off. Never give up and march to your own beat and eventually all shall dance to it.