What is fashion?
Benisha: Fashion is a style, a form of self-expression that allows an individual to showcase their personality through their clothing and style choices.
Soni: As simple as this question seems, this is one of the hardest questions one can ask me. Fashion to me is an identity. It is an expression of who we are and whom we want to be and not just fancy clothes, shoes and expensive jewellery.
Ramila: Fashion is a popular artful expression. Fashion appears in clothing, footwear, accessories, makeup, hairstyles, lifestyle and body proportions.
Rehan: Fashion to me is the expression of your individuality. It encapsulates who we are on an everyday level, and how we project that through our clothes. It’s a form of non-verbal communication. It’s artistic armour.
Sandesh: Fashion is all about self-expression. It can be anything, in any way. Fashion doesn’t only limit itself to clothes but also the way you carry yourself and what you use to make it look like you. It’s all about self-expression, which speaks a lot about one’s personality.
Who is your favourite international and Nepali fashion designer or fashion brand?
Benisha: Michael Kors and Zara for their affordable prices and in Nepal, Swornim Rai.
Soni: Tenzin Tseten Bhutia is one of favourite designers. I have worked with Tenzin, I have worn his designs for multiple occasions, and he has never disappointed. He definitely knows what he is doing.
Ramila: I follow Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel
Rehan: My favourite international designer would have to be Kim Jones especially his time as the creative and artistic director for Dior Men. My current favourite Nepali designers would have to be Khushbu Dangol and Siwangi Pradhan. They both recently created divine pieces for my friend’s wedding.
Sandesh: Some of my favourite designers are Olivier Rousteing and Louis Gabriel Nouchi. My favourite Nepali brands are Ekadeshma Nepal and Affairstudio. In international brands, I like are Erdem, Rhude, COS, The Row, Rick Owens, Khaite, Comme de Garcons and Thebe Magugu.
What is your personal style?
Benisha: Minimalist, comfortable and classy.
Soni: You will mostly see me in my gym wear but when I am not working, I lean towards a more classic sense of style.
Ramila: I prefer minimalist style with unique architectural lines and silhouettes.
Rehan: My personal style is constantly evolving and never stays constant. If I really had to summarise it, I would say it’s experimental yet chic. Somehow always end up standing out from the crowd.
Sandesh: I lean more towards casual, minimal streetwear. I like blingy things like the creations of Schiaparelli, but I know I cannot pull that off. I come down to Chloe and simpler brands that are easy to wear.
How much do you spend on fashion on average in a year?
Benisha: It’s really hard to tell, I think I have become more mindful now. Before any purchase, I ask myself if I really need it or not.
Soni: Probably $1000-2000! I am not sure; it should be around that range.
Ramila: Almost nothing.
Rehan: It’s very difficult for me to put an amount on how much I spend annually when it comes to fashion. I am an individual that has the capacity to shop anywhere, anything and anytime. So that should give the readers a rough idea of where my bank balance drains.
Sandesh: Starting a brand has made me so conscious of waste and environmental issues. I see my own company creating so much waste, so it has been 2-3 years since I have stopped buying clothes like I used to. I spent around Rs 20,000 – 30,000 max a year. I like thrifting. I am not so much brand-focused. I am more interested in finding the local tailors and local fabric, as they are so much cheaper in comparison to the West. I love wearing my own brand too.
Are you driven by brands?
Benisha: When it comes to shades, bags and watches, I prefer good quality over quantity.
Soni: I am not. I am not there yet; I can’t afford branded clothes. I have my priorities set to invest on my education and save for a house.
Ramila: Yes. It provides peace of mind in terms of quality and confidence.
Rehan: I am not driven by brands; I am driven by the design. I am driven by how the clothing makes me feel. There are few brands I am loyal to but not necessarily stick to them purely because of their name. Why limit your choices by only purchasing brands, fashion is being created everywhere. I actually think that when the brand of your clothing is too flashy and on your face, it’s very tacky.
Sandesh: No, I am not driven by brands. I like to go through everything. Every brand has something special to offer, there is always one piece in every collection that will stand out. Even if we go to local tailor shops, we will find some things that are amazing, and they don’t charge that much like the big brands. I am more driven by what people can create.
Where do you like to shop?
Benisha: Naxal and Kingsway in Nepal, and if I go out of the country, I prefer spending more time in duty-free shops rather than in malls.
Soni: I like to shop mostly from H&M and Cotton On. They are not overpriced and their quality is decent.
Rehan: In Nepal, I like to custom-make my clothes rather than shop. But in general, I am someone who can shop from a haat bazaar to a plush mall. Being a compulsive shopper is one of the vices I need to get rid of.
Sandesh: I love browsing and window-shopping. My favourite is going to local tailors who work amazingly, even if they don’t know much about marketing or fabric quality. Even with their basic knowledge, they make amazing pieces. Based in Pokhara, there are so many tailors who are not recognised for their talent and skills, even if their work is incomparable.
Who is your favourite fashion icon?
Benisha: Camila Coelho since forever.
Soni: It has to be Zendaya. It’s difficult to find a look she can’t pull off. She is stunning!
Ramila: Zendaya and Victoria Beckham
Rehan: The golden triangle of Manu Rios, Timothee Chalamet and Harry Styles are the current gods of fashion.
Sandesh: I don’t have a fashion icon; I look more at pieces.
Do you believe in following trends?
Benisha: Not really, I completely am; just doing my own thing person, I think trends are not always an indicator of what’s best or what’s right and people shouldn’t feel pressure to conform to them.
Soni: In context of fashion, trends can be very tiring and hard to keep up. Fashion trends are not my cup of tea.
Ramila: Of course, but usually, I follow my own style, it should be comfortable enough and help with my confidence.
Rehan: I follow trends if it complements my body and personality. I can’t follow trends purely based on the fact that it’s relevant for the season.
Sandesh: I don’t believe in following trends, but I am more into wearing timeless pieces, as they always stand out and look good.
What are your thoughts on slow fashion?
Benisha: I became more mindful about my purchases and slow fashion exactly matches my ideology. We should encourage fashion that brings no harm to the environment and socio-economic system.
Soni: Slow fashion industry is complicated. It has certainly help reduce the textile waste and consequent pollution but the sustainable fashion also comes with higher price tag and limited options.
Ramila: As fashion designers, we should respect consumers, producers and the environment, and treats all three appropriately. Slow fashion focuses on timeless design, natural or recycled materials, high quality and durability. Sustainable fashion and ethical work environment is also KASA’s motto and pathway.
Rehan: It’s something that’s needed, something that needs to be prioritised. The fashion industry is plagued with overproduction and overconsumption. Sustainable brands aren’t the most easily accessible and are usually more expensive. The industry globally is slowly focusing on this but it’s still not where it needs to be. It’s something I consciously need to be more mindful of.
Sandesh: I think a lot of brands need to start doing this. Especially in the context of Nepal, we can see China’s market providing everything, so why are we busy competing. We have customers here, so if we can introduce and teach them about slow fashion where it’s accessible at a cheaper price than in Western countries, then everyone would be interested in slow fashion. Fast fashion is mostly quantity over quality.
A timeless item in your wardrobe…
Benisha: Fur jacket and my grandmother’s gold bangle.
Soni: A little black dress.
Ramila: Perfect straight-leg jeans, white shirts (5-6), black dress, black suit, cardigan, trench coat, a pair of black heels and nude pumps, and a casual Louis Vuitton bag.
Rehan: The current watch I am wearing was handed down to me by my father.
Sandesh: It has to be my dad’s shirts which I took without letting him know, my mom’s pashmina shawls, and my grandma’s woollen sweaters. I am more into timeless old vintage pieces.
Your greatest fashion indulgence.
Soni: Skirts and thigh-high boots
Ramila: Bags and shoes
Rehan: My indulgences are usually thought after. So, I don’t actually consider any buy to be indulgent. But once I bought a Versace phone cover. It had the Medusa head protruding out, super cool. I would call that a bit indulgent but was definitely the most unnecessary buy. As I could use it merely for the time being until I got a new phone.
Sandesh: Shoes, sneakers, small jewellery pieces which are unisex, and shirts.