Brand - Mannat Gupta
My brand is sophisticated, minimal, and versatile
Mannat Gupta is a contemporary fashion label that aims to dress inspiring women around the world. Each piece is made with the intent to become a second skin and let the wearer’s personality shine. Characterised by a rich colour palette and notable textures, the brand’s creations reflect a careful marriage between opulence and ease. In a chat with Fibre2Fashion, the eponymous label’s Founder Mannat Gupta discusses her designs and the fashion business.
Fibre2Fashion: What inspired you to become a designer and how would you define your journey?
I always had a keen interest in anything and everything creative; I loved experimenting with different mediums and paints. Gradually, that grew into testing on fabric and other materials. Before I knew it, I was preparing my portfolio for various design universities around the world while still in high school. When I received my offer letter from the prestigious Parsons School for Design in New York, there was no looking back. While in New York, I got the opportunity to intern with various luxurious brands and hone my skills as a designer. After graduation, I knew I wanted to start my own company and share my designs with the whole world.
F2F: How would you describe your design philosophy and aesthetic?
We always try to come up with innovative ways of design, keeping in mind the functionality and comfort aspect as well; pieces that will be worn at multiple occasions/events and styled in various ways. There is always a concept/idea in mind before we design or produce any collection. Our pieces usually follow clean lines, cuts, silhouettes and include various pleats and drapes. We also love experimenting with different weights and textures of fabrics to create more depth in our pieces. They are easy-going, versatile, and everlasting.
F2F: Can you walk us through your design process, from concept to finished product?
I always try to keep a theme or concept for every collection I work with. There needs to be a specific idea set in place to start the process. Once a theme is final, we begin by researching different trends and styles along with colours that we should take note of. We try to be sure that we are working with materials and silhouettes that will sustain for a while so that the pieces can last in the wardrobe for years to come. We also include theoretical research since that helps us get more insight on the theme and shows us a different perspective. Once we have all our research in hand, we start sketching designs for that collection. We always draw more designs and then narrow down to the ones we feel are the most cohesive. After we have shortlisted our final designs, our next step is to make the patterns and drape on the mannequin to finalise the technical details and the fabric that will work best for that look. This process sometimes, leads to changes in the design or its finishes. Once we have the samples secured, we begin with the actual fabric.
F2F: How do you stay up to date with the latest fashion trends and technologies?
Today the digital world is so big, and everything is at your fingertips. Then, you also have various fashion trend reports and platforms to guide you with all the information you need. But I feel that social media today also plays an enormous role in influencing the crowd and fashion trends. It is a great way to know what styles and designs people everywhere are leaning towards. In addition, I feel that your gut feeling plays a crucial role in what you want to include or discard from your collection and what you want to represent as part of your brand.
F2F: What materials and techniques do you prefer to use in your designs?
We love working with different weights of fabrics as it not only creates depth and texture in a piece but also leaves room to play around with the aspects of translucency. You will see us working with lightweight fabrics such as net, chiffon, georgette etc, and heavyweight fabrics like wool, faux leather, cotton, etc. For our last collection, we also used various sequin and beading embellishments to transform our designs and pieces and create an additional layer of visual appeal to them. For our upcoming collection, we are trying a new technique to create more depth and texture in the fabric and give it a different element.
F2F: What do you think sets your design work apart from others in your field?
If I were to describe my brand in three words, I would say ‘sophisticated, minimal, and versatile’. We are trying to fulfil the current needs of the audiences with our designs. Providing our clients with high-quality products and keeping in mind their needs is of utmost importance. Throughout centuries, women have been told what to do and what not to do, what to wear and what not to wear. For women around the world who still live under the pressure of such societies, we want to break these barriers through our clothes. Our designs are elevated and elegant. Experimenting with unconventional pleats and drapes to provide our audience with unique pieces is what we aim to do.
F2F: How do you balance artistic expression with commercial viability in your designs?
Studying at Parsons, we were always instructed to focus on conceptual/artistic design rather than commercial, and that is how I was moulded too. As a designer and artist, you start feeling like you are compromising because you need to see the bigger picture, which is, the business/financial side. Now to balance it, I have thought of keeping a few pieces that can be a part of my campaign and will be used for PR/marketing purposes but will not be put into production. This way, I will be able to show my concept more clearly to the audience as well as feed my designer instinct.
F2F: Can you share any insights or strategies you have used to build brand loyalty and increase customer retention?
The first point to building brand loyalty and retaining customers is bringing something new every time to the table and not compromising the quality of the products at the same time. If you are not offering anything new or different, you will not be able to attract any audience. The second factor is communication and transparency. It is because being able to communicate on a one-on-one basis with your clients and understanding what they need, how they need it, and when they need, it helps create a stronger bond between the client and the brand.
F2F: How do you manage to collaborate with celebrities? What things are to be taken care of while working with them?
I strongly believe that not every brand is for every celebrity and not every celebrity is for every brand. Since we are an upcoming brand, we avoid paid celebrity and magazine collaborations. We are trying to keep it as organic as possible. There are a lot of stylists that get in touch with us every week for various sourcing requests, and there are a lot of stylists we get in touch with via our PR agency, TLM, by sharing our lookbooks so if they have any upcoming event or shoot with a celebrity, they can source from us. The most important thing while collaborating with celebrities is the comfort and fit of any piece since they are always in the public eye. In addition, the purpose for which the collaboration is for also needs to be kept in mind.
F2F: How do you market your designs and connect with your target audience?
Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are where we started putting our designs out in the world. Once we saw the appreciation we were receiving from people around the world, we decided to launch our website. Organically, we are able to connect with various creators and clients from everywhere via Instagram. But now, we also run advertisements on social media platforms and Google so as to reach a bigger audience.
F2F: What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
My family always pushed me to pursue my dreams and passion and ‘never give up’ attitude. So, I would say that if you love what you do, 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 at that moment too. Your only focus should be to work towards the bigger goal you have in life.