October 10, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

Caressing the skyline

Kolkata raised Pooja Shroff is hoping to offer women an epigrammatic taste of drapes with nifty hand painted florals

By Asmita Aggarwal

Her first introduction to fashion came from her mother, who may have been married into an affluent family that were real estate giants and are making the highest skyscraper in Kolkata, but she always wanted her own private space.

So besides being the family accountant, Pooja Shroff’s mother nurtured an avid interest in fashion, so her blouses had natty cuts, and pleasing embroideries.

And it was this gene that got transferred to the daughter too, when at 12, Pooja made a declaration, and told the family that fashion is what she will pursue. And no one raised an eyebrow!

In fact, a teacher was called in and instructed to help her perfect her sketching and painting as well as sculptures.

There was no looking back, as they proverbially say! Pooja, joined the School of Fashion, Pune and to hone her skills went to Parsons, New York where she learnt many valuable lessons, working with Kenneth Cole.

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“It was more educative and practical than theory at Parsons, which was, really, its best part. We had a live model present when we sketched, so it involved capturing different poses. We were exposed to museums and from Versace to Marc Jacobs, everyone came to our campus for placements, so the exposure was vast and enlightening,” she remembers.

She came back home in 2009 and worked with Sabyasachi Mukherjee for 11 months learning how to run a company effectively and also managing teams and labour issues.

“Sabya is a fabulous salesman, it is not enough to make beautiful clothes, if nobody is buying them. So, you need to know what’s happening in the market to be able to make money. He has a head for business and that’s what you really require besides creative ideas,” she adds.

In 2010, Pooja decided to launch her label, surprisingly Western wear as at that time Zara and Mango were yet to make an entry, in Kolkata and she also felt, working with Sabya had left such an indelible mark that her end product would look, somewhat similar. “With a small unit and one tailor she began and debated whether she should only do plus sizes, but soon offered everything,” she says.

Marriage to the man she met in US, while studying brought her to Delhi, and she had to restart everything from scratch and the market dynamics also changed, so she altered the aesthetic according to it. “Delhi has everything, a deluge of Western wear, so I got back to Indian garments, with a fusion feel.  Minimal embroideries, interesting shapes and drapes, that you could wear for occasions. We offer separates, so that there is value-for-money and clients could team up both with different combos, making it versatile. I have also noticed that when women come to a struggling designer they don’t want to pay, and always look for great finishing. So, we have to keep the pricing competitive. Established designers can ask for just about anything. That’s how the market functions, the stalwarts dictate,” she smiles.

For AIFW SS’18, Pooja is telling a story in prints, both florals and geometric, which have a tonal quality and are mostly pastels, even though she admits pops of colour are the mainstay of the label.

“We have used pencil shavings and hand painted florals to create something inventive. It is a summer line, so it is easy, with no dark hues, just light pinks, peaches and aqua. With jackets and Sumo pants as well as asymmetrical tops to draped kurtas,” she concludes.

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