Priya Jangda fought against her cultural conventions of landing in a white-collar job to pursue her true passion: fashion design. After graduating from her BA (Hons) Fashion Pattern Cutting at LCF, she took inspiration from her personal experiences as a young, Indian woman and has recently launched Quillattire, a sustainable streetwear brand under the motto 'I am who I am. Your approval is not needed.' In this interview, Priya tells us why she decided to start her own label and unveils the real motives behind her youth-empowering designs.
Hi Priya. First of all, congratulations on starting your own brand! How is it going so far?
Thank you! Quillattire is going great, it’s an exciting adventure. Through this journey I’ve had to learn all the business processes and everything behind the scenes, things that I never knew I had to know, from the finances to manufacturing research, admin, design, fitting, fabric sourcing and more. It’s not always easy, the journey is like pushing a massive rock uphill, but I always focus on getting to the top and keeping on moving.
Why did you decide to jump into the entrepreneurial shoes and launch your own label?
I have worked in many fashion houses as a designer and in the start, when I was younger, I would be looked down on because I was not as confident as the rest, and also because of how I dressed — in baggy jeans and sportswear — while everyone around me would look fashionable in a more conventional way. Nowadays, streetwear is cool and chic, but it hasn’t always been the case for people who are stereotypical ‘tomboys’.
One day, I built up the courage to hand in my resignation with no other job lined up, but the dream to build my own brand, one that grew people’s confidence and made them happy. I wanted to create something positive and meaningful, something I didn’t have when I was growing up.
I knew there were females out there that were going through a similar journey to mine — feeling insecure and lost — so I decided the motto of the brand would be ‘I am who I am. Your approval is not needed’.
For those thinking of starting their own label, what is it like to set up your own brand?
It’s exciting because it’s about your own idea, your own story. With every step closer to the goal, the prouder of yourself you become because you are the only reason why it’s happening. But with all its positives also come challenges: as a start-up, you can’t afford to pay for external help, so you become an accountant, assistant, seamstress, designer, CEO, marketing person, etc. The positive side is that you’re continuously learning from your failures till you get it right. Ultimately, it’s your own energy fuelling your brand!
Who has been your biggest support during this process?
My mum, dad, brothers and husband have always supported my vision. They had their doubts in the beginning, but once they saw the energy I was putting into the brand they were all on board. My parents would help at my markets in Truman’s Brewery; my brother would help with my orders when I was away from home, and the eldest has always believed in me and never doubted my ability, which gave me strength; my husband is my go to: he inspires me, pushes me and helps me in so many ways. All of them together have been a massive support system.
Can you tell us a bit more about Quillattire and the motivations behind it?
From a young age, I was bullied and told I wasn’t good enough. I hated myself and wished for the day I could become someone else, a version of me that I dreamed of, a version that was socially accepted. As I got older, I had this urge to do something big and amazing to give back and make a change to the way I was treated growing up.
I decided to study fashion design against my parents’ wishes; as an Indian girl, white-collar professions were the way to go, but I fought to do what I dreamt of doing — I wanted to create, I wanted to inspire people through my ideas.
As I mentioned before, after working for various fashion houses for years and with all the hurdles of self-growth and doubt, I decided to quit my full-time job career and focus on a brand that would inspire people and encourage them to be themselves, regardless of what was being said about them. That’s how Quillattire was born.
How do you describe Quillattire’s style? What makes it different or unique?
Quillattire is cool. It’s real, it speaks the truth. It’s streetwear with a sustainable twist. It represents the youth and their individual style, giving them a voice and freedom for self-expression. Quillattire believes in sending positive messages through inspiring words stamped in our clothes, which are in Japanese, Chinese, English and Hindi. I believe in fusing cultures together through art and fashion, which I hope will encourage unity.
Where does your inspiration come from?
From life experiences and the journey of emotions from being young to evolving into an adult. I’ve noticed that no one really speaks about their journeys growing up, so I decided to express thoughts and meanings in my collections. I also travel a lot, and seeing the beauty of different cultures and their environments is so inspiring.
I try to mix different cultures into my work to promote the message that everyone is equal, regardless of their story.
Who would you like to see wearing your designs?
There are a few musicians that inspire me with their ‘not give a f**k’ attitude, they just do and dress how they feel. I love Asap Rocky, his style, the colours and video edits are so inspiring! He would be someone that I would like to see wearing my designs, or someone like Pharrel, such a colourful soul who spreads all the right messages into the world.
I would love to see people on the street of any age wearing my products. It’s so satisfying knowing that someone wanted to buy a garment that you created. And it’s also an amazing feeling to know you have made a little difference to someone by them buying and then wearing your product.
Let’s talk about your time at LCF. Did you always know you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I knew I wanted to do something creative, but I could not decide what route in the Arts I would take for a professional career. The Art and Design Foundation year at UAL definitely helped me to make this decision. I found I enjoyed drawing, painting and definitely designing, and as the year continued I decided I would take up the BA in Fashion Pattern Cutting.
Do you think that studying at LCF helped you to launch your career?
Studying at LCF definitely helped with my career, as it opened up a lot of avenues having it mentioned on my CV. LCF is renowned and it does help start off your career when you have no job experience in fashion to support you.
According to your experiences along your career, what piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Never give up and always believe in yourself – that energy, when found, is unreal. You will find people in life that do not always have your best interests at heart, they advise through their own experiences, but you must understand this is your own story. If you believe in something, then do it!
And what would you say to current and future LCF students?
Fear is usually the biggest obstacle in the way of starting something new, but you guys have already taken the step to study something creative at one of the best universities. Your muses and people that inspire you have been where you are, but they have done one thing to secure where they are now, which is to keep going and never giving up.
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