At the age of 19, Masaba Gupta, founded her own fashion brand and since then there has been no looking back. House of Masaba completed 12 glamorous years in the fashion industry this year. In these 12 years, House of Masaba has gone from strength to strength, always pushing the boundaries of creative expression and building a solid place for itself in the fashion scene. Masaba herself, has grown and evolved, going on to have her own OTT show, Masaba Masaba, where she has shared a fictionalised account of her life.
The Telegraph Online Edugraph recently got into a chat with the "queen of prints”, Masaba, to bring our readers the real experience and journey behind the glitz and the glamour. She also shared key pieces of advice for budding fashion students. Read on to know more…
NJ: What in your opinion is the most critical aspect of the fashion industry?
MG: I think the most critical aspect of fashion is knowing what it is that you set out to be in the industry. Because as students of fashion, sometimes you are not given a very clear picture. I think it's very important for students to understand whether they intend to be a business woman or start their own boutique brand or something else. It is crucial to make up your mind in a very unbiased way as to what it is that you want to be first, because everything else will follow that. I believe schools and institutions in India do not give young fashion students the ability to think. They are so much into text books and curriculum, and students do not get a chance to understand what they really enjoy about fashion.
Throwing light on myself, I was somebody who absolutely disliked the theoretical side of fashion, but I really enjoyed the creatives, like understanding the pattern making, illustrations or anything that I had to use my hands on. I think that’s where a teacher comes in and tells you that as a student you do not have to fear this but rather embrace and enjoy it. Overall, my only advice to young fashion students will be to allow themselves the time to think through what they want. And thereafter pitch the pathway to reach wherever you want to.
NJ: How did you ‘pitch the pathway’ and start in your initial days as a college student?
MG: To be very honest, I did my own thing and kept a very clinical approach towards my work. I believe the teachers in design schools also need to have a tone of encouragement. Majority of the times this is where a lot of young students go wrong. As I was extremely good on the creative side. I focused on what I was good at and the rest I just left to destiny.
NJ: In the fashion world, where is the line drawn between inspiration and originality?
MG: I think one has to isolate themselves as the more one is consuming information the more they are influenced by. Eventually a person has to be very particular about the stories that they are inspired by, because we do not even realise when something becomes a part of our aesthetics, in a very subconscious manner.
As for me, I completely stopped reading magazines after a point of time as I never wanted to be someone who is constantly absorbing what's happening. Of course I have to keep an eye on it but I would never want to be influenced by it to a point where it affects my originality. So, I think that's very important. Apart from that I focus minutely on what I want to create for my audience so I think young students must also focus on their consumer and maintain their originality as per that.
The fashion designer first made her debut with the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai Source: Facebook
NJ: Would you say your journey has gotten easier or more difficult with time?
MG: I do not think that anything ever gets easier or harder as you keep growing. I believe these are two sides of the same coin. For example,with time, managing or hiring better talent from big organisations, and outsourcing and delegating are far easier, but at the same time, leadership today for me is harder. In fact, I would say my brand has reached this position only owing to my ability to change my mindset.
NJ: Having been in the industry for 12 years now, what do you think has changed?
MG: I personally feel that this generation is not particularly inclined towards hard work. It's like they want to work hard but they also want instant gratification, or they want a very fancy designation without even having two years of experience.
NJ: And how has that changed you?
MG: I believe today, managing expectations has become harder, especially for the younger workforce. As for me, I do micromanage, but now my company has also become so large that I cannot micromanage many of the things. Also, eventually I feel entrepreneurship is an act of letting go and developing thick skin, while at the same time keeping a very keen eye on what you are doing.
NJ: Your company was started small, and as you mentioned grown quite big. Which do you think comes with more challenges, and what has been your takeaway?
MG: No, I think when a company is small it has its own set of challenges and when you are very large, it has its own.
I believe that the main thing that I learnt from it all was “take care of your health”. I do not know how much young students or people would associate with it as entrepreneurial advice, but it is that. I believe one should take care of their mind and health.
For creative people it is very important to protect their mind, as without that they would never grow as a corporate mind and that's my learning. Hard work is good, smart work is even better but overwork is never good. I am learning it the hard way and I think it is very important for people to learn and understand that free time is not available time.
She is famous for her unique ideas and exceptional collection names Source: Facebook
NJ: You are pretty much a trendsetter in your own right. What are the trends that you see emerging in the fashion industry in the future?
MG: I have never really believed in trends, especially when it comes to India, because the country really operates on its own. But when it comes to weddings, I believe in the future we are bound to see a lot more intimate weddings, like less people and better quality.
Also, if you see everywhere else, history is repeating itself. Now vintage is the new modern and I think that is going to be a trend both in India and globally, as well.
NJ: For someone building a brand, besides creativity, being economical is also a big requirement. Do you use any strategy to reduce your production cost?
MG: Firstly, my brand orders more fabric.
But, one of the best ways that we really use for reducing cost is by outsourcing a large part of the production. So, today of a lot of things, almost 50 to 70%, is sourced from outside vendors, who now manufacture for us. I think this is a great way of reducing cost and it is also a great way of amping up your production and supply chain without picking up on simple costs like hiring additional manpower, or investing that much more in real estate. So I think the best way to reduce costs is to outsource production as much as one can.
Masaba is the first Indian designer to do a fashion show via Instagram. Source: Instagram
NJ: And finally, what is your one key piece of advice for young aspiring fashion designers who are inspired by your journey?
MG: I would say stay calm, stay focused and do not do anything just for the sake of more interesting dinner table conversations. Do things that you actually believe in and are good at. And follow your gut, because your gut works before anything else.
Masaba Gupta burst onto the fashion scene 12 years ago - with designs that were never seen before. The fact that she stood out is what possibly contributed the most to her being able to build a niche and grow from strength to strength. And as our expert Masaba says add your own originality to it, work smart, and always follow your gut!