Wikipedia says “Fashion design is the art of applying design, aesthetics and natural beauty to clothing and its accessories. It is influenced by cultural and social attitudes, and has varied over time and place.” And, yes to a big extent it is true. Indian fashion and clothing are pretty much influenced by our value systems, customs, culture, traditions, geography, and many more factors. The list is endless. When you visit a different state then you find a change in the clothing as well along with food, water, and dialect. But, despite all these challenges, some Indian fashion designers have stood grounds and changed these challenges into opportunities. Here in this article, we have collated a list of the 15 most successful Indian fashion designers that have made a mark in the Indian fashion industry.
The first thing that strikes you with the name Manish Malhotra is pretty and chic bridal wear. But, he is much more than that. His journey started as a fashion designer when he failed to establish himself as a model. Then he ventured into designing a few outfits for Bollywood films. This is when his fashion career evolved. And then there was no looking back. It has been 27 years since Manish Malhotra has been a part of the Indian Fashion scene. With stunning patterns and innovative silhouettes combined with grand masterpieces, Malhotra leads in the race when it comes to fashion and style. Celebrated as the first Indian designer with runway experience to start creating Bollywood costumes in the early 90s, making him arguably the most influential costume designers for B-town. Conferred with the best costume designer award in the years 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2007. He also won the Filmfare Award for costume design Rangeela. He laid down the footsteps for the other designers to follow in. Manish believed in modernizing traditional wear designs to contemporary looks. You can find most of the work with intricate embroideries, off-shoulder blouses or floor-length ponchos are some of his signature styles.
Sabyasachi is a Kolkata based designer who started his fashion designing journey in 1999. And, his love for his roots and culture have inspired his designs. It is not just about traditional clothes, he loves to incorporate handicrafts and different Indian styles in his designs. Not only this, his insight into western culture has made him collaborate with Christian Louboutin to create embroidered Louboutin shoes. Sabyasachi believes in crafting clothes that have ‘personalized imperfection of the human hand’. In a short span of three years after his launch, he was awarded the outstanding young designer by the Femina British council. Apart from this, he has been a part of Fashion weeks like the Indian Fashion Week, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, and Miami Fashion Week. He currently has more than 20 stores in India and 6 international stores. His collection consists of clothes for men and women along with accessories too! If that’s not enough you can get lucky enough by getting a chance to wear the Sabyasachi Lehenga on Band Baaja Bride. You can see most of the famous Indian celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra, Sania Mirza getting dressed by him.
Ritu Kumar is one of the leading female Indian designers. She is known for blending traditional craftsmanship with the modern-day styling. She has a background in art and history that shows a major impact on her work. You can find a lot of ancient designs and motifs in her work, which makes her clothes timeless. Ritu Kumar has covered a long journey of over 40 years in the fashion industry. She started her journey by starting the first ‘boutique’ in Calcutta with the brand name ‘Ritu’ 4o years ago. Now, she holds outlets in 14 cities in India. Ritu loves to make high fashion garments and accessories using silk, leather, and cotton. While her heart lies in the textile and embroidery heritage of India, she has also developed another style for the young clientele. The inspiration for these garments are basic Indian motifs, prints, and embroideries teamed up with western silhouettes. In 2002, Amrish Kumar, son of Ritu Kumar started a sub-brand named – Ritu Kumar, LABEL. She has been awarded the ‘Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award’ for her contribution in the field of fashion. The French government has bestowed her with “chevalier des arts et des lettres (Knight of the order of arts and letters) while the Indian government has awarded her with Padma Shri Award 2013.
Rohit Bal was born in Srinagar. He started designing clothes in 1990 and launched his label in the same year. He has held fashion shows in Paris, New York, Singapore, Geneva and all the major cities of India. Apart from that, he has collaborated with many international brands like Christian Louboutin, Kirtilal Jewellers, Zippo Lighters, and Reid & Taylor. Rohit Bal has been conferred as the Lakme Grand Finale Designer for 2012. He has also designed clothes for the famous Indian show called Kaun Banega Crorepati.
Anita Dongre is the new flag bearer of taking the Indian culture and clothes to the next level. She loves experimenting with Indian handloom, textile weaves, and eco-friendly textiles. She got the award for Excellence in Fashion Design in 2008. Her designs can be seen under Anita Dongre, Grassroot, AND and Global Desi. Her forte is catering to bridal wear and menswear. Grassroot has organic clothes AND keeps western wear and Global Desi for ethnic lovers. Forbes India, Fortune India, Business Today and Blackbook Magazine count her among their ’50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ lists. She has also been awarded by PETA at their PETA Approved Vegan Fashion Awards 2013.
Shyamal & Bhumika
The journey of this brilliant duo in the year 2000. In a short span of three years, they made their label. They have taken a long journey of 18 years that have made the journey a well-seen one. They have over 2 million followers on the Shyamal & Bhumika page on Facebook. The husband and wife duo have made sure different Indian techniques in terms of art and crafts are displayed in the intricate designs. Most of their creations are wearable and luxurious.
Tarun Tahiliani is a famous Indian designer who has been called the ‘Karl Lagerfeld of India’ by British stylist Isabella Blow. He first started his journey with his Sailaja Tahiliani, when the duo founded India’s first multi-designer boutique Ensemble in 1987. The next stepping stone was the Tahiliani Design studio in 1990. His trademark is to blend traditional aesthetics with contemporary design. He is known for his bridalwear. Apart from fashion designing, he is known to dig a hand in interior and event design. He is the first designer to present his collection at the Milan Fashion Week. Over 26 years of experience, gives him an extra edge. The designer has designed for celebrities for Lady Gaga, Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Shilpa Shetty.
Gaurav Gupta is a Delhi based designer who started his journey in 2006. Within a short time has been hailed one of the biggest names in the fashion industry. In the early days of his career, he was conferred with “The Future of Couture” award at the Rome Couture Fashion Week and “The Roots of Creativity” at the Mittelmoda Fashion Awards in Italy. Blending severe military lines with extreme couture along with brilliant execution is his forte. He is known for creating flawless designs of three-dimensional silhouettes. His collections are mainly based on soft fabrics like georgette organza, silk, and chiffon. With over 600k followers on social media, he has made a mark in the industry notably.
Neeta Lulla is a fashion designer and stylist, who has been a part of the industry since 1985. She has over 300 films to her name. Her work can be majorly seen in the Bollywood industry. If you wish to see her major works, Devdas, Taal, Jeans, Lamhe, Khal Nayak, Chandni, Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja, Kisna, Aaina, Khuda Gawah, and Jodha Akbar are just a few to name. She has won a couple of national awards for costume designing. She has also won the National Film Award for Best Costume Design for Lamhe, Devdas, Jodhaa Akbar and Balgandharva in 1991, 2002, 2009, and 2012 respectively. Additionally, she won the Kingfisher Fashion Award in 2005.
Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla started their fashion designing journey 30 years back in the year 1986. From then the duo has been working together. The designer is good friends with the Bachan family. So, they designed clothes for Aishwarya Rai and Shweta Bachan as well. Recently, they designed the attire for Sonam Kapoor. Their haute couture is popularly associated with the display of Indian arts and crafts on quintessentially Indian fabrics. Along with all this elegance with a touch of flair and flamboyance is what makes their work stand out. They have also launched a label called ‘Abu Sandeep’.
Anju Modi is an Indian costume designer known for the brilliant work displayed in movies Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Ram Leela (2013). Her latest work that got a lot of appreciation and attention was Bajirao Mastani. She loves using the Indian arts and crafts in her work. You can find kalamkari, block prints, vegetable dyes, etc in her work. She likes clothes that have a sleek and feminine look without too much embroidery. She has been a part of the FDIC and also been a part of the HEYER’S fashion festival held in Paris in 2006. Bestowed with Filmfare Award for Best Costume Design in 2016, making her a well-known name in the Bollywood industry too.
Masaba Gupta has been in headlines for long even before her work. She is the love child of Neena Gupta and Vivan Richards. But leaving all this controversy behind, she made a mark for herself as a fashion designer. She is known for her flamboyant style, which is a blend of contemporary and traditional. Her blend is towards creating ethnic wear for women by using vivid colors, natural fabrics, and unique prints. Her first appearance was at the age of 19 at the Lakme Fashion Week with Wendell Rodricks. In 2018, she launched a hijab saree for the Muslim woman who loved fashion. Now, she is participating with different websites like Nykaa, Purple etc.. to create a cosmetic range of her own too.
Rahul Mishra is the only Indian designer that has won the International Woolmark Prize. He won the award in 2014 at Milan Fashion Week. He is also the first Indian designer whose work was showcased at the Paris Fashion Week. In 2008, he was awarded the MTV Youth Icon of the Year by MTV India. Most of his work displays the use of signature three-dimensional, architectural, laser-cut patterns, intricate botanical motifs, and extraordinary workmanship. His focus is to promote Indian handlooms by working with his sustainable design innovations. He holds a post-graduation in apparel design from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. In 2009, he became the first non-European designer to win a scholarship at Istituto Marangoni, Milan, Italy.
Raghavendra Rathore is a popular Indian fashion designer, entrepreneur, and costume designer. He belongs to the royal clan of Jodhpur. He has been instrumental in developing Indian heritage and culture through his exclusively designed ethnic Indian apparel. He holds the sole patent rights for Jodhpurs and Bandhgala Jackets. Apart from fashion designing, he ventures into multimedia, jewelry, and interior designs. In the starting years, he worked as an assistant designer for DKNY. Besides that, he has been associated with labels like Donna Karen, Oscar de la Renta, and Bill Blass. With years of exposure in the international markets, he came back to India in 1994 to start his brand and put the country on the International map.
Ritu Beri is a well-known name in the Indian fashion designing arena. In the year 1990, she started her brand known as Lavanya after passing out from NIFT. She was the First Asian Designer to head a French fashion brand, Jean-Louis Scherrer, in March 2002. In 2015, she was appointed Advisor to Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and USTTAD. Apart from all this, she had a chance to dress up celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, and Nicole Kidman at the Paris Fashion Week. In 2010, Ritu Beri won the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government.