Growing up in a place of mountains and myths, Uttarakhand, Mannat Gupta always had a keen eye for art and design. A fashion design graduate from one of the prestigious Parsons School of Design, her time in New York exposed her to diverse cultures, communities, and ideas. Her flair for creative thinking and fashion grew leaps and bounds in this metropolis. In 2019, Mannat started experimenting with colours. This led her to take her expertise in design and the business acumen she received from her family to launch her namesake label in 2020.
StarCentral magazine recently caught up with Mannat to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I started as a painter and artist in the creative field, constantly experimenting with and mixing different mediums. My mother used to be a painter, so I like to believe that I got it from her. But I was always into reading different magazines and learning about different fabrics, materials, and silhouettes (unconsciously), which also started changing my style choices. That soon led to my family and friends approaching me for advice on how they should dress, what they should wear, and what would work for their body type. In a short time, I realised that this is something that interests me, and I should explore more in this space. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I had offer letters from different design universities from around the world; one of them being the Parsons School of Design, New York, which was always a dream and on top of my list and there was no looking back.
What do you like most about being a designer?
My absolute favourite part of being a fashion designer is being able to sketch my vision on paper and bring it to life. To see other people enjoy wearing it as much as I loved making it is an absolute pleasure.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
I won’t say as a fashion designer, but being in the industry and running a business sometimes curbs creativity; there are times when I want just to create conceptual pieces for a collection but cannot because we need to look at the bigger picture which is the practicality aspect of it.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
To be representing my country, through my work, at the World Fashion Exhibition 2022 in Los Angeles and make a one-of-a-kind piece of supporting their cause for this year, eradicating extreme poverty by empowering women in the African Continent and contributing to the eradication of child mortality.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I was invited by Flying Solo in New York (who I have been retailing with since last year) for their store opening. I was fortunate enough to be in New York around that time and lucky enough to meet their team and other industry insiders. Since we are a made-to-order and made-to-measure brand, all our work, sales, and conversations happen digitally. It was great to hear their feedback and views on the brand and put faces to all the names. It was wonderful just being in a room full of like-minded people.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
Being in the fashion industry for the last 2.5 years has given me a lot of exposure and various experiences. But one of the most important lessons I have learned while in it is that if you want any brand or business to work, you need to take the whole team together and keep the communication open and transparent. The team is who is bringing your vision to life.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
Yes. If it weren’t for my family, then I would have never ended up at Parsons, nor would I have been able to launch my brand. The initial funding that I received for my company was from my family. They have always believed in letting the kids follow their passion.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
I never had any intentions of starting a brand initially. It was a fluke; I started experimenting with natural dyes I made at home. I loved how the dyed fabrics and patterns turned out, and I decided to turn them into a collection. I wish I had done a bit more planning and workings before launching my brand so things could have gone a bit more smoothly in the first year.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My father once told me that “if you love what you do, then you should never stress over it. Small things will come and go. If it will not matter in a few hours or after a few days, then it is not worth wasting your time and energy on it at that moment too. Your only focus should be to work towards the bigger goal you have in life.”
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
Everyone running a business wants their brand to be a global name, and of course, I want that for my brand too. However, my current plan is to make the brand grow enough to diversify into other categories, such as menswear and, hopefully, women’s accessories in the near future.
Once the brand is profitable enough, I would like to give back to society by joining and supporting one of the causes I really believe in – providing education to underprivileged children in India (and hopefully to the other parts of the world too).