Designer Masaba Gupta launches one of her largest stores in Chennai, and here's where you can buy her designs
Designer Masaba Gupta really needs no introduction. The 30-year-old’s eponymous label approach towards couture is rather unconventional, and like her larger than life personality, is rather flamboyant in nature. For someone whose forte was music and dance, fashion came at a rather unexpected time of her life, something she eventually realised was her true calling. Since then, the designer has come a long way. From debuting her first collection Kattran in 2009 at the Wills Lifestyle Fashion (the same year she was introduced as the youngest designer at 19) to now having six stores around the country, Masaba’s hybrid genre of demi couture clothing took the country by storm. Although she has been in the city a few times to launch collections out of stores, the designer has never had a stand alone store here. That changes as Chennai gets its first Masaba store in KNK Road. If you’ve followed her on Instagram as much as we have, you will notice that the 1,200 sq feet store (the biggest after Hyderabad) is a kaleidoscope of colours with her signature bright colours, bohemian prints, playful silhouettes and a whole lot of elegance, rolled into one.
Catching her over a phone call just in time before she left for her vacation, Masaba explains about her move to start a store in the city. “Chennai like a lot of cities has been on our radar. We’ve cracked into Bombay and Delhi, and we thought about cities in the South that has seen some kind of traction,” says Masaba. “So we got into a partnership with Shitija Nahata who is the franchise owner, and she said that there’s a huge market, but a market that is starved of designer wear. She was very aggressive and pretty sure that it would be a great opportunity with a positive response. I did a bit of searching myself and I think if we opened in a mall, or a house that is quaint, we would’ve been confused about whether the brand would perform.”
Although Masaba hasn’t spent much time in Chennai, she has always loved the South’s fashion sensibilities, something she believes has an identity of its own. Several years back in 2012, Masaba introduced the Tamil script printed sari that went onto become one of their statement pieces. Just about two years back, she also printed the same script on a denim. But when it comes to the South and its fashion sensibilities, she feels that women in the South are deeply rooted in their culture. “Fashion can move forward, the world can move at its own pace but in the South, women stay in close proximity with their traditions no matter what,” she says adding that women are confident and comfortable in their bodies, and that for her is a big win.
If you’re wondering what you can expect at her store, well the answer is - everything! From pret to bridal wear to menswear, the store is an amalgam of everything that she has designed. And here’s what exciting. She will be adding accessories, collaborations, fashion jewellery and her beauty line to the mix. “Basically, everything that we have done in connection with the label will be available at the store soon,” she adds. We remember a particular trip that she made to Nairobi, where she had her first pop-up and binge-shopped for tribal prints at their local store. “Oh yeah, that was crazy! (Laughs) But as far as those prints making it to the store, it’s a yes and a no because I am working on it for the next season. Funnily, it’s in my hands right now. But, yes it will most definitely be at the store soon.”
Masaba’s personal style has always been a bit of a puzzle. She rocks a pristine white pant suit with the same sass that she flaunts her West Indian genes with her hot pink bustier and corn rows. So how has her style changed over the years? “You know, just the way I look at clothes have changed. Right now I am completely into white, it’s weird. But i think you become more about comfort,” she says adding that for her the idea is to not pick up on trends, but look for classic pieces that will last. We ask her about fashion predictions for the new year, and she opines that in India, people don’t follow trends. “It’s more about when’s the next wedding, or when’s the next festival that we can shop for. It’s not like a Kardashian trend that they set, and then trickles down to the Indian market. We are market-driven by classics, that we can wear over and over again.”
Moving onto criticism, Masaba says that her biggest critique without a doubt is her mother. “She is someone who can really call spade a spade and there’s nobody else who is more brutally honest,” says Masaba adding that because her mother works so closely with the collection, she is more capable of judging it. “It would be unfair for me to judge it, because it will come from a place of sensitivity, and not clarity.” Masaba remembers of a time when her mother told her that older women don’t like wearing clothes that have closed necks, because it makes them look more stunted. “I would’ve never thought of that. So she’s great to have around!”. Currently the brand is looking at opening four more stores, a beauty line, a new bridal wear, a ready-to-wear collection and a new line of Titan Raga watches - all slated to launch by February and March. There’s never a dull moment in the House of Masaba, that’s for sure.