Educated in Princeton, Dilip Kapur on completing his Ph.D. in International Affairs, discovered his love for leather bags and design while working for a leather company in Denver, Colorado. Dilip, the President and Co-founder of Hidesign, a company that is renowned for the quality of its products, was in Nepal recently for the Hidesign launch in Bhatbhateni. WOW caught up for a quick conversation about his take on the brand. Excerpts:
What are the signature designs of Hidesign?
Hidesign speaks a really classy language that carries the message we care about. The leathers are extremely natural and ecological as they are vegetable tanned and we use solid brass which is beautifully crafted. The details and the handwork of the average core bag at that time took four times as much time as it does now as it is a labour of love.
The Little Boxy Bag is all about imagination and describes the journey of travel. It reminds me of travel journeys, visiting and meeting new people, and seeing the cultures of different people.
What is your style statement when it comes to bags?
The value the bag carries makes a style statement. The one that is closest to my heart is the Maasai Collection, as it influenced me very much. When I went to Africa I was strongly influenced by the culture of the Maasai tribe. The East India Collection is also very close to me because of its sustainability.
What are some key design elements for today’s women?
There are certain things I keep in mind when I design bags for women as the purpose of the bag is to make you more beautiful, and marketable, and make you feel your worth along with confidence.
What role do you think social media plays in the fashion industry?
Social media is there to create a community. They are not just our followers but a part of our brand.
Three moments you cherish when you reflect on your journey?
First, the moment when we decided that we were going to concentrate in India and not abroad. At the beginning of our journey, 90% of sales were abroad, and after six years, 90% of sales happened in India. Secondly, when Yves Carcelle, former CEO of Louis Vuitton, invested in our company. Lastly, since the time I first decided to hire women in our company, we now have more than 90% of women working with us.
The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you could give for staying ahead of the curve?
Be original. I was asked to speak in “Comite Colbert”, which is the committee of all the CEOs of top French brands. I learned from them that instead of repeating the Western style, rather bring something original to the world that comes from your culture and who you are. We have a lot to contribute to the world, as our culture is so vast and we as individuals are limitless.
What has been your biggest challenge in this industry to date?
When people keep telling you that you are not unlocking your values and you can do ten times more sales and also be continuously chased by private equity, they are only judging by how much turnover or revenues the company is benefiting from. So the comparison demotivates you, but it also reminds me that this was never the goal of Hidesign.
With many international branches, what’s the one thing that your journey has taught you?
Always stay original, as most Asian companies tend to copy. We create our own designs, and the designs. A brand has the identity of being raw and real. One of the main reasons why Louis Vuitton invested in our company is that our bags are real and raw and tell their own story.