Rajesh Pratap Singh, the building pioneer to the Indian fashion industry, boasts an illustrious career, spanning over more than two decades within the fashion industry. Having launched his namesake label in 1997, the iconic designer has overseen the growth of his brand from being a signature label to a luxury fashion empire. In an exclusive with L’Officiel India, designer Rajesh Pratap Singh talks about his minimalistic approach and how he has managed to create some revolutionary designs, with his distinctive signature style.
Why did you decide to choose fashion designing as a career? What according to you is a favourite part of being a fashion designer?
I wouldn’t say I chose to be designer, it just happened to me. The fact that we can experiment on a daily basis is the part I love most about my work.
What inspires your design aesthetics? Where do you get visual references from?
Again, inspiration is a very big word but at the same time it is overused so we don’t like to use it at all. Our visual references are from small towns in rural India, travel, nature, the mountains…..
Your signature style is minimal, like a detox diet, with clean cuts and flawless detailing. How you’ve maintained it? Do you think less is more?
We just do what we do. I feel I wouldn’t like my work to be put in a box called minimalism or maximalism. We just do what comes naturally and don’t think of how it will be perceived. The minute we have any extra time, we already move on to the next collection and that’s how we like it.
You create innovative designs with minimal styling. Is it easy to sell them in an Indian market consumed by bling?
India is a vast country with varied tastes and not everybody in India is for a specific style. Again, we do what we do and we don’t really change for what is popular or unpopular or for a certain market.
You’ve been the Woolmark Company’s ambassador for India. Tell us about that association and your work with Bhuttico.
Woolmark is a credible organisation which is not only supporting wool growers in Australia but also giving an impetus to young design talent all over the world. It has always been a pleasure to work with them. Bhuttico is a cooperative of wool weavers in Kullu. Based in an idyllic setting in the middle of an orchard. It has a great management, diversity in weaver participation and we are happy and proud to work with them.
How has it been dealing with artisanal craft and manpower intensive handloom weaves?
It’s been interesting. Rewarding in many ways.
What are your thoughts on the future of sustainable fashion?
Sustainability is not just about fashion. It is a dire need and a way of life. I am sick and tired about people talking about sustainable fashion. Each and every industry needs to be sustainable and so do we in our daily lives. We are not trying to make a brand being dependent on the crutch of sustainability. We are not about sustainable fashion in the limited sense it is understood to be. For us a product defying trend and sustaining decades of time is also minimising our carbon footprint. There are so many facets to this.
What do you consider the important facets of the fashion industry? What skills according to you are necessary for a successful fashion designer?
In our opinion, a lot of perseverance, ruthless editing and sticking to one’s ideologies coupled with the will to constantly experiment. These would hold one in good stead in this sphere. Success means different things to different people and you need to define what success means to you.