October 12, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

Deconstructing the mainstream

Kanika Goyal’s distinctly vivacious thought process is a result of her training under Bibhu Mohapatra and lessons in the finer nuances of Italian tailoring at Parsons

By Asmita Aggarwal

What happens when you have a diverse set of experiences? You work with the best of the best. Bibhu Mohapatra, Prada to Marchesa, three distinct ideologies that kind of shape your aesthetics.

Chandigarh-born Kanika Goyal, launched her label in 2014, after NIFT (Delhi) where she studied accessories even though she applied for FD, and then Parsons, New York where she learnt the finer nuances of fashion design.

“We had students from different nationalities in the same class, so it was a mix of cultures and the three years that I spent there were frankly, enlightening, with the best of professors, including an 80-year-old Maverick, who taught me Italian tailoring and its techniques and how to do things by hand, and which part of the garment to execute it on dexterously,” she says.

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Then, it was the internships which were hands on like Prada’s visual merchandising, at their Soho store, taught her packaging and managing back end, as well as how to enhance the product experience for luxury customers.

While Georgina Chapman at Marchesa was all about draping and giving a young Kanika, the freedom as an intern to deftly learn the art of layering.

“Bibhu was a game changer, he is like family to me and he took me under his wings and taught me pattern making. I stitched his scarves for his Fall 2014 show and the greatest take away has been how to run a company,” she says.

Kanika came back home inspired by the hipster street vibe in her blood, which she was in love with and wanted to start a line with a young, edgy tone with no serious connotations, but just great tailoring. “New York’s art deco and deconstruction struck me also because I grew up in Chandigarh, where architecture was a constant leitmotif,” she says.

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So her first introduction in the market was maroons, beige and black, inspired  by New York’s dress code, fully entrenched in the hangover of the city that she studied in and made by one pattern maker in a small room. “We started with statement tees and I took inspiration from how my friends talk,(‘As If’ was one such slogan)that became a hit. We wanted to do cool stuff that sells all year round, not just one season,” she adds.

Linear in cuts and asymmetrical in ideology, the colour blocks remain harmonious, soothing and always flow in a certain direction.

AIFW SS’18, will usher in 60 styles, six prints (in two colour ways), and very contemporary silhouettes. “I have done a lot of surfaces this year and also ruffles and embroidery created out of it. The feel is quite androgynous, but still feminine, and prints geometrical yet young with breezy powder blues and lilacs,” she explains.

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Though Kanika admits that when she started she catered to a younger audience, but now she has relaxed those parameters. She also does a capsule collection aptly titled “Ease”, that takes elements from her main line, but tones them down. It is priced at Rs 7,000 to Rs 15,000 with shift dresses, long shirts with pants, easier on the eye, as well as interesting prints.

Her choice of fabrics is restricted to linens, viscose, crepe and cottons. “My dad is into real estate and he always wondered what I was doing, in fashion, but my mom was really supportive. NIFT made me really strong, as you are out of your protective home environment and suddenly the world kind of hits you, and you got to find your balance,” she says.

The all nighters at NIFT made her job at Parsons simpler; she could cope with the stress of submissions and never missed a deadline. “I want to go global, do New York Fashion Week, that’s the plan and maybe one day do couture which I learnt from Bibhu,” she smiles.

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But Kanika is multi-talented, she also did an accessories line titled Ye Lo, with a kitschy and quirky feel to it, while studying in NIFT. “We did bags and tees with graphics and doodles and everything was priced at Rs 2,000, this was back in 2009. We retailed from, at least ten stores, it was fun while it lasted. I would like to restart that too someday,” she concludes.

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