Interview with Varija Bajaj
by Mukul Jain
Known for her bright, buoyant and vibrant couture, designer Varija Bajaj is always in tune with a sensibility that brings out the sassy girl in every bride. Creative and playful, the designs are a canvas of cheerful shades and beautiful embroideries.
In conversation with such a designer let us know something about the season’s best trends and how to keep the spirit and funk alive even in traditional attire.
1. What is fashion according to you?
Fashion to me is a creative expression of my thought process. It is not imposed externally but exposes your internal psychology and personality.
2. Why fashion industry?
I am a management student …with an MBA from University of Sheffield, UK. During my final semester i decided to research about the Indian retail industry and the scope of fusion clothing in India then. Anticipating a great demand in fusion clothing…i came back to India and started this as a venture, not thinking i would design personally. However in due course, my involvement became imperative to translate the customer requirement. So with a strong inherent sense of colour and balance i naturally got into designing myself and learnt the technicalities on the ground
3. Tell me about your collection and latest designs/ fabrics you are working on?
Our latest collection titled “…. and then the dreams come true” on our 10th anniversary is a vast range of occasion wear. From Formal Bridal to Funky Kitsch to Cassy Westerns…it is gamut of celebrations.
4. Who all are your target audience?
Our focus is on 18-35 year old women, who are well travelled around the world and are conscious of fashion trends.
5. Never seen you designing for mens. Why?
Being a Women’s designer for so long , it takes time for the perspective to dwell for the other gender and as u know ‘ you design what you love to design not because someone wants you to ‘ .
6. Who is your idol designer?
I don’t have any single idol designers but I do look up to the best practices of various designers around the world.
7. Celebrities who wore your designs?
In past 10 years the label has been adorned by many Celebs such as Karishma Kapoor, Asin, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sania Mirza, Mugda Godse, Hrishita Bhatt, Veena Malik, Tanushree Dutta and many more.
8. How is your journey so far? Any challenges faced?
Well if I start from the genesis of this journey, the day would end but my story won’t.
There was a bad phase, back in 2006 when our store in GK, New Delhi and also our factory together got sealed due to MCD sealing drive, because of which business suffered a lot.
It took us many years to pull ourselves back. But on hind sight, we not only pulled ourselves, but bounced back with a bang. We are far more organised now with our factory in Noida. We also re-ventured in direct retail through our store in Defence Colony. The biggest high is when we are re-visited by our customers who used to visit us 10 years ago…and share how badly they missed us. I am amazed the loyalty our brand had managed to build in a short span even 10 years ago. After all there is no bigger achievement than a happy customer.
9. How the market has changed since you incepted?
The Indian Fashion Industry has remarkably changed in last 10 years. We all know India is a blend of distinct cultures and traditions. But that apart, interaction with foreign culture has exposed Indians to multiple style influences. We have also witnessed an exceeding amount of Fashion Conscious people over the years, which has given us a responsibility to develop unique creations
There are countless fashion weeks and events showcased, which has given a great opportunity to celebrate fashion. The opportunities do not end there, affiliation and collaboration with different talent shows and beauty pageants also show fashion affairs. There was a time when people used to buy occasionally but with time-popularity and flexibility in fashion has made people to indulge more.
10. Any plans to go international ?
We do a lot of international projects however we would want to retail internationally under our own stores. But one step at a time
11. What do you dislike about being a designer?
There’s nothing actually to dislike about being a designer, that would be like disliking myself.
12. Your style mantra ?
Mix and match is my personal style mantra. I always prefer effortless styling which also reflects in my creations.
13. Idol ?
There is no particular idol I follow. I believe in growing and outdoing my own self every moment.
14. What is the vision of Varija Designs?
The vision of Varija Design Studio is to offer world-class creations and create happy customers.
15. How do you manage family, kids and business?
It would not have been possible without the support and understanding of my family, especially my husband Jeetendra Dharewa. He has not only been encouraging but also very supportive to stand by me in all difficult times. My daughter Seher 3 years of age understands my professional commitments and is often happy to accompany me to work. And of-course my parents…because of whom i get the driving force.
16. Anything you like to say for your followers and fans?
“Work with Passion, Love with Passion & Live with Passion” .
17. Mantra for struggling designers?
Be extremely passionate and convinced about the career you have chosen for yourself-only then you can pull through all hardships. Opportunity is everywhere-just look around. No one is luckier than you are.
18. You have recently completed a decade in the industry. How do you feel?
It feels just like yesterday when we started with 2 tailors. Number of years is no achievements but the learning has been tremendous. I would not trade this experience for anything in my life. Still looking forward to many such learning’s…
19. What makes a good design?
There is nothing like a good or a bad design. It has to be understood in the context of the requirement. If it fits your clients need-it is a good design. Therefore one needs to understand the clients psychographics and creatively interpret that in a creation