A few days after having sent shockwaves at MMU-Milano Moda Uomo with his latest collection Soul tech, we talk to Dhruv Kapoor about his inspiration and balancing local craft innovation with a global language that resonates with a contemporary consumer. Drawing inspiration from vibes and aesthetics of the 60s and 70s, Dhruv’s works with local artisans mixing minimalism and maximalism. Furthermore, his brand, in line with the generation it caters for, has an environmentally and socially responsible philosophy.
Dhruv Kapoor started his first steps in the fashion world in Milan, studying at Istituto Marangoni and then continuing his training as a member of the womenswear design team at Etro. He moved back to India in 2013 to set up his own label, Dhruv Kapoor, and in 2014 his first capsule collection was showcased. In 2016 the Indian designer was awarded by Vogue India as the best emerging brand and in 2017 he was listed as one of the 50 most influential young Indians by GQ India. After two successful nominations for the International Woolmark Prize, the brand was sponsored by Camera Nazionale Della Moda (CNMI) for two consecutive seasons to exhibit during the prestigious Milan Fashion Week at the Fashion Hub Market. In his work, Kapoor depicts an endless play of past, present, and future offering a reflection of the contemporary society and its interactions with the most different cultures.
A look from Dhruv Kapoor's Soul Tech fall-winter 2022/23 collection
What is the main inspiration for your latest collection Soul Tech and what was the message?
It is all about advancement of science and technology and our increased understanding of the “Soul”. The eternal life, our purpose and the immense power of thought alone. Our ability to access multiple realities and multiple versions of ourselves, which technology is now exploring through the metaverse- but ancient wisdom has made us realize that this power existed throughout our time, within us, around us and for us.
When making design decisions how do you go about incorporating local crafts and materials into the collection? Is this something that is dear to you and why?
Craft is what I grew up looking at. India’s rich cultural heritage is embedded all around us. Through our work, we tap into this vast database and update it by closely working with local artisans, by identifying new approaches to age old craft and giving them a global, contemporary feel.
During the pandemic inspiration became quite a challenge for many considering all the restrictions on life experiences. What advice would you give to current students in that respect?
It’s time to explore within. We all have access to the exact same information, when we are in a calm state of mind- the inspirations, ideas or concepts would flow freely. That’s all I did during multiple lockdowns- take a step back, observe and react in the most authentic manner. Being true to oneself, without looking too much to the left or the right- is the way forward.
Would you say there is a difference in reception and expectations of your work locally and internationally and how do you adapt?
Each collection mixes multiple elements keeping global audiences in mind but retaining the essence of the brand throughout. From changes in silhouette, color, prints or embroideries- we provide a varied mix to tap into different target markets.
What was the role of Istituto Marangoni in developing your stylistic identity as a designer whilst respecting your local heritage?
Lifechanging! It is there that I learnt how to use all the ideas, concepts in my head and put them on paper and finally translate them into a product. My aesthetic took a 360 degree shift once I started at Istituto Marangoni Milan. Today, the brand offers a vibrant mix of the minimal aesthetic I acquired during my time in Milan and the maximalism India has to offer. The institute trained my mind to combine these two extremes and develop versions that would appeal global audiences. The design process we use at the office is still the one I learnt during my time at Marangoni.
Director of Education, Mumbai