WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER WITH BIJAY GAUTAM
He is the talk of tinsel town. His designs are a head-turner. And his approach to his work is salutatory. Born in Terhathum and raised in Kathmandu, BIJAY GAUTAM is the man to look out for! Mr. Gautam has already released two fashion lines and has more to offer in the years to come. TMN catches up with the fashion pioneer to discuss what it takes to be a fashion designer!
Why fashion designing as a full time profession where Nepalese tend to be doctors or engineers?
Nice question and I get that quite often. To be a doctor or a pilot is a very personal aspiration. An Individual should dream and be passionate about their career. You cannot pursue a profession because somebody wanted you to. I am happy with Nepalese society moving away from the conventional thought of getting their kids to be doctors, engineers or pilots. Parents are now more open about new career options. As for me, I have always been aware of my creative energy and I knew for sure that I wanted to pursue an exciting and challenging career option. Fashion designing topped that list!
Many a times, our choices are heavily influenced by our family and society, but to really find one’s inner calling, one needs to explore and find their true passion.
Was fashion designing something you always wanted to pursue? Do you think that taking this career path requires a conscious choice or is it something one grows into?
Not really! I knew that I loved designing. I started with art and crafts during my school days and then painting towards high school. I spent my late teens doing home decors and content designing, but the thought of walking the lane of fashion came one day while I was hanging out with my designer friends in Mumbai in 2012.
Yes, one has to be conscious about what they really want. Many a times, our choices are heavily influenced by our family and society, but to really find one’s inner calling, one needs to explore and find their true passion.
Nepalese society does not approve fashion designing as a full time male profession. Any tips on how to handle the stereotypes?
We live and sustain for ourselves and it is us who makes a society. Profession is not gender bound. If you have the talent and skills, you should go for it!
As for stereotypes, they don’t see that 90 percent of chefs are men, 60 percent of staffs in Banking are women and 98 percent of local be-spoke tailors, who have been stitching blouses, petticoats and kurthas for years, are all men. Why don’t they say anything about that?
How has your family been with your decision to study and pursue this profession?
Oh yes! My parents have always admired and supported what I wanted to do. My dad was aware of my creative side ever since my childhood. He stills talks about the time when I made a Mt. Everest replica out of dough and painted it with water color!
Tell us about your fashion ventures. We understand that you have multiple fashion labels and are planning to open outlets in Nepal and abroad. Tell us about them.
Be Labels Pvt Ltd has two major labels for now and more will be added in future. We are starting up with sarees for both the labels. But the offerings are targeted to different customer groups with variation of sartorial taste.
Bijay Gautam – This is a signature collection, subtle creations for cocktail and semi formal evenings. We have collected fabrics from Tajikistan, Lebanon in the Middle East and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in South Asia. We will continue to get more exclusive range which is unique and are limited.
Drape Democracy- Is all about affordable fashion, here we liberate our ladies to wear a chic and elegant quirky designs starting NPR 4000 which I bet is a good value for money. Its more than the garment, they get whole packaged offers, let me not spill all the beans.
For spring summer 2015, we are working on silk and print patterns to introduce freshness in traditional drapes. Easy to wear and maintain complimented with affordability, the fabrics are sure to impress. We are planning to offer our products abroad. So far we have decided to offer them in USA, Canada, Australia and UK.
My father always taught me that the true essence of success is only savored when you walk, fall down, get up, dust yourself, realize your mistakes, and start walking again. I have heeded to that thought my whole life. I have come a long way, and there’s miles more to go.
What are your plans for your fashion line in the near future? Where do you want your fashion venture to head?
Men’s wear will be launched by September this year. Having worked on casual wears, we have incorporated sturdy and rugged fabrics with European influences. Our aim is to garner customer satisfaction on our brands without compromising the quality. We want to be a successful Nepali brand with noteworthy presence in Indian and international market. We are also planning to establish a manufacturing unit here in Nepal in a few years time. Also, we are in talks of setting up a large showroom displaying all of our collection. Ours is still a baby though. We don’t want to rush things.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
I don’t think if its right to call myself lucky, but I have to say that I am grateful and happy. My father always taught me that the true essence of success is only savored when you walk, fall down, get up, dust yourself, realize your mistakes, and start walking again. I have heeded to that thought my whole life. I have come a long way, and there’s miles more to go. If I am able to create a Nepali brand and establish it as a successful international brand, I will definitely consider myself lucky to have had things worked out.
Any suggestions for upcoming fashion designers?
Know what you really want to do. Even as a fashion designer there are so many things one can pursue, from Haute-Couture to Prêt-a-porter and western to traditional. Be fearless of any criticism, because it will bring the best in you if you play it on your stride. Don’t be afraid to try out new possibilities and experiment. It is by falling down and learning from your mistakes that you sharpen your skills.
PHOTO: SHASHANK PRADHAN