A phone chat with Kashmiri designer Zubair Kirmani, who’s busy launching his first store in his hometown.
From engineering to fashion designing, how did it happen?
I was always creative, constantly inspired by the things around me. I got into engineering because of my parents and I went to pursue their dreams at a university in Bangalore. A year into college, I met with a terrible car accident and was bedridden for four to five months. I used this time to think about my ambitions. Fashion had taken a leap and I wanted to be a part of the change.
Once I recovered, I dropped out of university and started taking short-term design courses in Bangalore. My label was born in 2006. I moved to Delhi, rented a small storage space and started out. My clientele was restricted to friends and family back then, and soon I put together enough funds to create a collection to showcase. Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week happened in 2007. And since then, there has been no looking back!
Does your label name ‘Bounipun’ signify anything?
The name is inspired by past experiences very close to my heart. I was born and brought up in Kashmir and the tree of this region is Chinar. Just like what the maple leaf is to Canada, a Chinar leaf is to Kashmir. The local name for the leaf is bounipun. Having spent a large part of my life watching the changing shades of the Chinar leaves in the Valley, I couldn’t think of a name more apt to represent my label.
What is fashion to you and who is your style icon?
Fashion is being yourself. I don’t believe that people are fashion slaves. Everyone does and wears what they are most comfortable in. And I have never ever looked up to anybody in terms of style. Style is very subjective and I think each one brings their own.
Finally, what is the Zubair Kirmani click factor?
The USP would be wearable fabrics in simple, clean and fuss-free designs. It’s comfortable and suited for any occasion, depending on how it’s carried off. The DNA of our label involves subtle texturing and signature Chinar leaf motifs.
A Bollywood celebrity you’d love to dress: Salman Khan
Favourite international label: Calvin Klein
Favourite colours: Black and white
Style staples: Blue denims and a white shirt
Top design influences: Kashmiri architecture
A Zubair Kirmani must-have: The colourful shift dresses