When was the last time you saw fresh fashion ideas using the very landscape of folklore that we’ve grown up on? Meet new-age fashion designer Jubinav Chadha, whose sole aim, with his label, is to celebrate experimental menswear, one motif at a time.

When designer Jubinav Chadha set off on his journey in the fashion world with his self-titled label, little did he know that his very idea of eccentricity and the pride of going back to the roots of storytelling will make his unique voice in design stand out. After being invited to showcase his work at The World Of Wearable Arts in New Zealand and becoming a part of the museum installation in New Zealand for two whole years, Chadha started his journey with a store in Delhi in 2018, and already has a line of celebrities, such as Ayushmann Khurrana, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Virender Sehwag, sporting his collections. Chadha speaks to us of his journey, his idea of telling stories through design, and the future of menswear.

What is the Jubinav Chadha story? How did you start off as a designer?

My romance with creativity took its flight at a very young age. I remember my mother narrating stories from my childhood about how I used to drape her dupatta on to myself, and create something out of the ordinary. I guess my designer journey had already started, subconsciously. But life happened, and I enrolled into medical school for my high school. I was always fascinated with fashion and clothes, and I used to pick clothes and style myself with what knowledge I had. I remember visiting DLF Emporio in Delhi and standing outside Manav Gangwani’s store, happily enveloping myself into the sheer feeling of fascination and wonder by the outfits I had my eyes on. This must have been a clear indication for me that I want to become a fashion designer. I went to Pearl Academy, Delhi, and my journey as a designer began.

My mentor, Mr. Ankur Chabbra, was a driving force when I showcased at Amazon Fashion week in 2017. Ankur guided me to enter the World of Wearable Arts, the New Zealand competition, with my graduation project, and that opened the door to experiencing the global platform of design and drama associated with fashion and textile. I was selected, and got invited to showcase my garments there for two consecutive years of 2017 and 2018. The outfits became a part of the museum installation in New Zealand till 2019. Soon after, I started my label, opening my first store in Delhi.

If you had to compare yourself as a designer from when you started off, and now, tell us one thing that wasn’t a part of your fashion aesthetic, but now is.

I was always inspired by our rich treasures of folklores, mythology, and fantasy. I remember growing up with my mother narrating stories from Indian mythology. She is a committed devotee of Lord Shiva so mainly her stories were of him, whereas my father used to tell me stories about the Lord Hanuman and the characters from Ramayana etc. We, as a family, were profoundly smitten by mythological TV shows. I used to treat them more like stories than part of my devotion, to be honest. There is a shift in my aesthetic, though. Earlier, I felt that my garments should tell a literal story of the inspiration I’ve chosen but recently, I have discovered that the inspiration is actually just the guiding force behind my design process. The stories I tell from the collection are actually more metaphorical than literal. Another realisation is that my designs cannot be confined to one “genre”.

What encouraged you to design menswear?

Myself. I designed clothes that I would like to wear. The lack in the market for my style of clothing actually led me to design menswear. And there were more people like me who would vibe with my style, my loyal customers are proof.

How have you tried to steer away from the way menswear is designed in the Indian space?

I have always made unique menswear. While I sensed the country focuses on “safer” style, my clothes are experimental and yet, have a classic charm that won’t cross the line of being non-wearable. I always say this to my customers, you need only 10 per cent confidence in wearing my clothes, and my clothes will do the rest.

Who have been your biggest inspirations, and what do you want to achieve with the clothes you design?

My biggest inspiration is Sir Alexander McQueen. I always add sir to his name as he has been my first tutor. His journey and clothes made me realise that there is a market for what I do and make. His clothes are not ordinary, and have created a niche market for themselves. I aspire to be the Indian version of the brand representing my style globally one day, and would like to sell everything from perfumes to T-shirts to formal wear, and a lot more. A global brand is a distant dream for me.

Designer wear for men is always somehow segregated into wedding wear. Are we taking luxury leisurewear for men seriously enough?

It’s true, but that’s the demand of the market. Through my personal experience, wedding or festive wear sells way more than high street/leisurewear in India. And people are way more experimental when it comes to that section. In leisurewear, people rely on fast fashion brands as their go-to option. Although there is a shift, it is slow in comparison to wedding or festive wear. But I am hopeful because I, personally, love making streetwear as much as I love making Indian festive wear. And I feel we need more celebrities/ influencers wearing more Indian high street brands than they do.

What’s your take on the relationship between celebrity and fashion, and the showstopper culture?

Celebrities are the biggest influencers in India. They come with a massive following, and have a lot of media coverage, which brings attention to brands, especially for the upcoming ones. Our most selling ensembles are the ones worn by celebrities. So for an upcoming brand, it is a blessing. For example, Ayushmann Khurrana once wore our T-shirt for promotions of his movie, and it was in the very beginning of our journey. We have got the most orders for that particular T-shirt, and we priced it well also to reach more people. In my opinion, the showstopper culture needs to have a balance, which is primarily in the purview of designers and veterans. I feel the showstopper should be a model, and they should be given the celebrity treatment because that is their industry, and they deserve it.

Collections have been becoming seasonless, reducing carbon footprint at the same. What’s your take on fashion weeks and the number of those that happen?

Hell to the yes for seasonless fashion, I’ve stopped putting out seasons since it’s India, and the climatic landscape of the country is different with every 100 km. So putting out a season is both confusing and offensive. If you ask me, a clothing line should have options for all seasons. That’s how we can approach more people with business as well as ethics. And on top of that it is good for our environment, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

What’s next for you?

2021 has been a year of experiment for me. In June, we launched our maiden resort wear collection and in September, we launched our maiden urban wear collection. And now in November, I’m bringing the label back to couture. We are launching our long awaited collection called Raas Leela. The collection is an ode to love, and is inspired from the tale of Lord Krishna and Radha, the eternal love transcending generations. The collection features clothes that are transcendental, beautifully handcrafted, and timeless so that they can be preserved, and passed onto generations. It also marks our first bridal/ groomswear collection. It will be soon followed by a sequel/series of the collection — Meera — an ode to devotion. Raas Leela will be bright and lively, Meera will be pastel and subtle. We will also launch our flagship store with that collection, so I can’t wait to show everything I have to offer.