I met Gautam Gupta at his workplace in Defence Colony, a few weeks ago. Now, the man was born and spent quite a while at Chandni Chowk, so it was natural that he and I should find common ground to bond over. That apart, meeting Gautam was a refreshing change from the kitchens I usually frequent, in addition to discussing a topic where I have little or no knowledge though there certainly is plenty of curiosity. Does apparel interest you? Do the works of different designers appeal to your sense of aesthetics or are mass market brands your thing?
What brought you into the fashion business?
I was 17 years old when my mother launched her first collection of sarees and with great response she expanded. I was studying then and was helping her along. In due course of time I realize that I love this work a lot and so I joined her full time. Any handloom based fabric turns me on as the feel of a handloom fabric is very different from that of mass produced, machine-made fabric; specifically tussar, jute and silks.
Which is your favourite creation and what did you eat while making it? <wink>
The first time I designed exclusive fabric for lehenga that is still my favourite creation as it involves the blending of my yarns and I was the first one to do it. I love experimenting with yarns now and creating different textiles. Sometimes because of late working hours I don’t get time to eat regular meals. So I have this recipe of a sandwich where I use plenty of different vegetables, peanuts, some snacks, lots of different sauces between multi grain bread and grill it. Its like a Bombay Bhel + Mixed Vegetable sandwich. That’s what I was likely munching on at the time! <laughs>
Do you believe fashion and food can be described as parallels or peers?
Fashion and food have lot of things common. They both require creativity, innovation, know-how, taste, presentation and above all, are likely to be among the most lavish things in the world. So yes, I believe one could describe them as peers.
What are the challenges that a person in your position faces? Which was your happiest moment when all these challenges seemed worth it?
Managing of resources from manpower to financial becomes one of the biggest challenge especially in our country where work ethics are still not very strong. Trends are often understood and researched but sometimes things go little wrong but it is still manageable. Working with handlooms requires lot of time and patience and especially working with weavers in clusters and managing a store and a studio in Delhi becomes a task some days.
Three of my happiest moments were during my debut show at India fashion week as it was my dream from day one, my flagship store opening in Defence colony as it was also a long time wish and my first own designed fabric when it was loved by one and all; something I would have died for.
Tell us a little about your mother and how you work together?
My mother is my best teacher and look up to her for the energy she still has at sixty two. She handles the retail side and works on designing as well, whereas I take care of the rest; designing, production, marketing and so on. We are not mother and son when we work, so there is lot of space for disagreements. Since we both love handloom work, our sensibilities are the same. She is though a safe player and I am a born risk taker.
What is your ambition for your brand? Where do you see it in five years?
I want Asha Gautam to be a brand which designs mostly using handloom fabrics and handcrafted textures. In five years I want to make it a brand which has designs that are totally unique and innovative. Also the designs should be available through other multi designer stores as well as Online.
How do you ensure your creations stand out from the rest? Or do they do so naturally? If so, how?
As mentioned we work very hard on handlooms and hand embroideries so the amalgamation makes our product naturally unique but we do need to evolve it and do persistent research to make it innovative and aspirational.