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Exciting new designers you want to check out!

By Tista Sengupta
Last updated on: March 30, 2016 08:44 IST
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Creative and confident, these emerging fashion designers are the future of Indian fashion.

Putting up a strong fight at the selections, five designers -- Chirag Nainani, Sohaya Misra, Aqdus Saleem, Agrima Batra and Naveem Naaz Shaikh -- have made it to the Gen Next category of Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016.

Tista Sengupta/Rediff.com chats with the new designers about their journey so far and gets a sneak peek into their upcoming show.

Chirag Nainani

Jaipur-based designer Chirag Nainani, 25 years

Why fashion?

Fashion just happened to me. When I was in Class 8 at Tagore Public School, Jaipur, I fractured my leg. I was advised bed rest and I began watching a lot of fashion shows on television. That is how my interest in fashion grew.

I took up fashion as my optional subject in school. Even though I wasn't good at sketching, I managed to score well in the exams. This boosted my confidence.

I joined Pearl Academy, Jaipur, in 2008 to pursue fashion designing. I was certain it would give me a promising career and the opportunity to exercise my creative side.

The journey so far

I wasn't sure how to go forward with my career after my graduation.

A friend I was visiting in Ahmedabad helped me get a job as an in-house designer at Artisan's Cottage, a fashion and home decor boutique. I worked there for six months and designed a small collection of cushions, all of which sold.

That gave me the encouragement to start off as an independent designer and I returned to Jaipur. However, something else was awaiting me there. My father had started a construction materials business and wanted me to join him.

I didn't want to give up designing, so I decided to dedicate the first half of the day to the factory; I used the rest of the time to design clothes and created eight skirts. I used a gold spray printing technique that made them quite unique.

I sold them from Artisan's Cottage in Ahmedabad and received raving reviews. Part of whatever I earned went into designing more outfits; the rest was invested in an in-house workshop.

I was outsourcing my work to other tailors until, in April 2014, I finally was able to hire my first tailor. The basic infrastructure was provided by my father. He also paid the tailor Rs 14,000 per month for two months.

Besides Ahmedabad, I was retailing my collections at a fashion outlet called Teatro Dhora in Jaipur. I started a Facebook page that got me a lot of enquiries and orders. I also sold my outfits online through Tjori.

Today, I have five tailors working with me. I showcased my collection at the India Beach Fashion Week in January 2015 through a contest organised by Talent House, an art networking site in Mumbai.

I have been trying for Lakme Fashion Week for the past two seasons. I finally got selected this year.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Chirag Nainani

Your fashion style

I am an observer. I notice how people behave. I have replicated my understanding of human behaviour in my work.

My silhouettes are easy-to-wear and comfortable.

A sneak peek into your LFW collection

My collection comprises skirts, jackets, pants and dresses that one can wear during the day. It's a summer line for women and has a clean look.

My designs depict the sub-conscious side of the human brain, which has been hand painted on the fabrics with indigo ink.

I have to hand paint each outfit and then dye them. It takes a lot of time but it gives me an edge as a designer. Few local printing artisans from Bagru city near Jaipur were also involved in dyeing the fabrics.

You will get to see a lot of prints. They are abstract and have been derived from my understanding of the Rorschach inkblot tests. This test helps in examining people's personality traits.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Chirag Nainani

Celebs you'd want to dress

A lot of them :)

In India, it has to be Deepika Padukone. I would also like to dress Penelope Cruz. I think my creations will fit their style sentiment.

They wear chic, casual wear and team it up very stylishly.

Retailing from

  • Aza, Atosa, Creo and Melange in Mumbai
  • Angasutra and Anonym in Hyderabad
  • Cinnamon in Bangalore
  • Ommyra in Kolkata
  • Mora Taara in Gurgaon
  • Ananta in New Delhi and Gurgaon
  • Exclusivly.in retails my outfits online.

Price Range

Rs 4,500 - 14,000

What's next

I hope to showcase at international shows soon. I am also looking at participating in trade shows, both in India and abroad. But first, I want to establish my label in India and focus on fashion shows here.


Sohaya Misra

Mumbai-based Sohaya Misra, 39 years

Why fashion?

I loved to sketch even when I was in school. But my mother wanted me to pursue arts and then do a management course. So, I took up psychology for my graduation, which I completed from MithibaiCollege, Mumbai.

Meanwhile, actor Manisha Koirala, a family friend, approached me to style for her films. Perhaps, she liked the way I dressed. I styled two of her movies Mann (1999) and Champion (2000).

Soon after I got some fabric, designed few clothes, did a photoshoot and approached Channel V in 2001 for a job as a stylist. I liked working there as I was allowed to be experimental and creative. I styled VJs Yudhishtir, Peeya Rai Chaudhary, Nina Manuel, Ranvir Shorey and Purab Kohli.

In 2003, I joined MTV where I styled for advertisements. Alongside, I also styled Bollywood actor Neha Dhupia for her public appearances for seven years.

The journey so far

In 2009, my cousin Renuka Jalan and I launched a kids line, Baccha Party. That's how my career as a designer started.

My cousin took over the business in 2012. I went back to styling for ads and worked as a freelancer till I decided to start things afresh.

In 2015, I went to New Delhi and bought a bunch of fabrics. As I am not trained in cutting and stitching, I hired a tailor (confession: I am completely dependent on my tailor).

I designed 50 pieces and put it up for sale at an exhibition, VintageGarden, Mumbai, in October 2015. I came back with only four outfits. This inspired me to launch 'Chola The Label' in 2015.

My work garnered a lot of attention. Shruti Sitara Singh, fashion manager at IMG Reliance, saw my work on my Facebook page, 'Chola The Label', and contacted me. This is my first submission for Lakme Fashion Week.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Sohaya Misra

Your fashion style

Anything flashy isn't for me. I love nature, so my fabrics are natural. I don't embellish outfits. I didn't have any mood board.

A sneak peek into your LFW collection

My collection is very relaxed. There are a lot of monochromes. There's beige and grey too. There are dresses, shirts, jackets and trousers.

The drape dresses are voluminous but the fabric is stitched in such a way that it hangs well and doesn't make you look like you are wearing a sack.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Sohaya Misra

Celebs you'd want to dress

It can be anybody who is easy going.

I have already styled Alia Bhatt for a Maybelline commercial, Vidya Balan for an editorial shoot and Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora Khan for a television show.

Retailing from

  • Chola near GuruNanakPark, Bandra
  • Atosa, Khar in Mumbai

Price Range

Rs 4,000 - Rs 20,000

What's next

If not this year, I am definitely going for Numaish (fashion exhibition) in Dubai next year. I am going to take things as they come. Getting more organised in life is the need of the hour. Eventually I would love to move to Goa and set up my workshop there.


 Aqdus Saleem

Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh-based Aqdus Saleem, 24 years

Why fashion?

I am the first designer in my family. Sketching was never my cup of tea, but my imagination is very powerful. Even as a young kid, I loved to mix and match my outfits.

I decided to take up designing as a career after completing my graduation in business administration.

I did a two-year post-graduation course in fashion designing from Pearl Academy, New Delhi, in 2012. My sketching improved and I learnt to translate my imagination on paper in the form of beautiful outfits.

The journey so far

While I was in college, I had participated in a creative event 'What's Next' - a project that gave a modern twist to Muslim traditional women's wear, the abaya - and it was well received.

That's when I thought of launching my label 'Aqdus' which I did, right after college in December 2014.

I wanted to break the stereotype around abayas. So I created something that covers your body but makes you look beautiful.

I had applied for LFW Gen Next online and luckily got through. This was my first submission.

Your fashion style

My designs are inspired from the Middle-East. I have seen women there wear beautiful abayas, I wonder why women here don't.

My creations are wearable and have layers to give it a fashionable twist.

A sneak peek into your LFW collection

This is my first collection on a professional level.

Named 'The Modest Chapter', the theme revolves around a book, its pages and cover. The silhouettes and the outfits give you the look and feel of a book.

There will be layered dresses and straight fitted ensembles in the collection. There will be less embroidery and bling and no motifs. It's contemporary modern wear and made with cotton lawn and cotton corduroy fabrics.

I've used white, off-white and beige colours. I think it's a very unique concept and will stand out from the rest.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Edelman

Celebs you'd want to dress

I think Sonam Kapoor can carry off any outfit well. So I would love to dress her up :)

Retailing from

Currently I am retailing from my store in Moradabad. I am also e-tailing through Amazon.

Price Range

Rs 5,000 -- 25,000

What's next

I obviously would want to expand my business. But first, I want to continue working on this theme and come up with innovative designs.


Agrima Batra

Mumbai-based Agrima Batra, 22 years

Why fashion?

Creativity runs in my family. I still remember how my mother used to make my sister and me wear identical outfits. And we both loved it.

After completing Class 12, I applied to Parsons School of Fashion, New York, for a four year course in fashion design in 2011. I was selected.

The journey so far

While doing my course, I interned for a year with the international label, Michael Kors. I worked with the design team and even with the sales department. I learnt the different aspects of fashion designing.

I didn't have a work permit so I returned to India in July, 2015.  I joined designer Tania Sharma for a couple of ad shoots.

I also worked for designer duo Falguni & Shane Peacock for a couple of months before I applied to LFW for Gen Next.

I am so happy that I will be launching my label 'Agrima' at LFW.

Your fashion style

My design mantra revolves around three Es.

1) Efficiency: No one can put me down if I am confident and efficient.

2) Exclusivity: I live my own story. I create and not recreate.

3) Evolution: I aspire to do things that I have never done before.

My designs have a lot of spiritual influence. I lend a modern twist to chic day and evening wear. I prefer doing my own patterns.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Agrima Batra

A sneak peek into your LFW collection

My collection 'Astraea' is based on the Cosmos. I am using the constellations to make various shapes and silhouettes. I have given it a three dimensional touch.

It's a line of western wear that's dressy and comfortable and has a summery feel. I've used colour blocking on neoprene and organza fabrics for this collection.

Skater dresses, gowns, skirts, differently shaped tops, unique silhouettes -- name it, you have it all.

Celebs you'd want to dress

I have styled Saif Ali Khan for an advertisement. I would like to dress up someone who has a quirky sense of fashion. I think Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone will look good in my outfits.

Retailing from

Right now, I am not retailing from any store.

Price Range

Rs 12,000- 30,000

What's next

I want to launch my label first at the show and then get in touch with prospective stores. I am looking at retailing from outlets like Le Mill and Kitsch in Mumbai.


Naveem Naaz Shaikh

Mumbai-based Naveem Naaz Shaikh, 28 years

Why fashion?

Right from childhood, I had an inclination towards fashion. When I dressed well, I stood out in the crowd and my day went well.

After school, I helped my father in his commercial printing business. I graduated from R A Podar College of Commerce and Economics, Mumbai, and also did a business management course from the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research.

But I wasn't sure if I really wanted to continue working with my dad.

Three years ago, I attended LFW at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Mumbai. The vibe was impressive; I remember getting goosebumps.

Soon after, I did a six month pattern making course from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai, where I learnt the basics of fashion designing like how to cut a collar, blouse, shirt and dress.

I started designing corporate wear for women. The response was very good.

When I told my parents about my interest, they were initially shocked. But once they saw how well my work was being accepted, they were happy.

My father -- who is a bigger shopaholic than I am -- always said that if you want something in life, work for it and earn it. It doesn't matter how much it costs.

Today, I am doing what I have wanted to do for so many years.

The journey so far

I started my label in 2013. I quit my father's company and set up a workshop with two tailors next to his office.

I started attending fashion shows. There were times when I even got the chance to go backstage, thanks to my designer friend Ragini Ahuja who introduced me to the industry.

My first exhibition was at Numaish in Dubai. The founder of the exhibition, Manisha Chhabra, wasn't keen on having new talent at her event. Thankfully,I got 10 minutes of her time to take her through my work and was selected.

Getting to feature my work at this event with so many well-known designers was like a dream come true. I took part in more exhibitions in Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune.

My outfits were being stocked at stores De Elite in Mumbai and Ommyra in Kolkata.

According to me, exhibitions are like an eye-opener to understand the core market. It helped me understand what a girl today really wants to wear.

I had applied for the last season of LFW Gen Next. Unfortunately, I didn't get selected.

When I created my designs this time, I first showed it to my designer friend Ragini. She told me that I would definitely get selected this time. And I did!

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Naveem Naaz Shaikh

Your fashion style

I like to keep things simple and funky. My designs are fun and have carefree attitude.

Any girl who loves wearing Osho chappals and has a chilled out nature will like my collection.

I love typography. My focus has always been on detailing and finishing.

A sneak peek into your LFW collection

Denim is something that will be a trend for all your life. So I developed a denim collection.

It's edgy, wearable, comfy, ultra-chic and fresh. It's sharp and enhances the body. There are dresses, tunics, jackets, pants and shirts. Each outfit focuses on only one design element or motif.

To make them look different, I have used laser cutting technique. You will find alphabets and child-like icons laser cut on the denim. The most classic piece in my collection has words like happiness, fun, work, etc, written on it.

Photograph: Kind Courtesy Naveem Naaz Shaikh

Celebs you'd want to dress

I like model Candice Pinto. She's just WOW and has a good heart that reflects on her face. I would also love to see our mentor at LFW Sabina Chopra wearing my clothes soon.

Retailing from

I currently take orders at my workshop.

Price Range

Rs 8,000—20,000

What's next

Every day is a new day. I take it as it comes my way. I want to experiment creatively and continue working on unique designs.

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Tista Sengupta / Rediff.com