One thing that I strongly believe in, is that if we put our mind to something, we can achieve it. I caught up with Tirusha Dave, owner of Bravura Magazine, who exemplifies this mindset. She started Bravura Magazine back in 2007, and now, has made the transition to the world of fashion as a designer! Tirusha was able to showcase her collections at Atlantic City Fashion Week 2014. She also served as Social Media Director for Atlantic City Fashion Week. Soon after, she was nominated for the Fashion Executive of the Year award! In addition to keeping busy with the world of media and fashion, Tirusha works as a teacher. Read on below as she tells us about her journey and transition into the life of a designer!
Roopa: You have been a well known media personality who is known for “Bravura Magazine.” What got you interested in fashion writing, and when did you know it was your calling?
Tirusha: To be quite honest, fashion and writing both fell into my lap – in a more figurative way that is! When I originally started ‘Bravura Magazine,’ it was focused on South Asian lifestyle, music, entertainment, and fashion was just starting to be a rising topic. In all honestly, one thing let to another and fashion became a major core of what ‘Bravura Magazine’ stood for. I started to attend events during New York Fashion Week and my desire to dive into fashion grew even more. And once I landed my interview with Nigel Barker, everything in perspective changed for me; he really opened my eyes up to different views and focuses on fashion, and it ignited a fire within me to do more!
Roopa: It is one thing to be a fashion writer, but another to be at the forefront as a designer. What inspired you to make the transition to becoming a designer? You come from a very creative family, what was their take on your breakthrough as designer?
Tirusha: Honestly, I never thought about getting to fashion design. I always enjoyed the backside of fashion: working with designers, organizing fashion events, styling for photoshoots, and more. But at the same time, working with different designers and seeing what people really want, made me want to challenge myself and think, “Can I give them something they would want?” I’ve had the chance to work with some awesome designers and very creative personalities; but it’s one think to see a crazy design on the runway and it actually be wear-able. And that’s where my inspiration to wear the creative hat of “designer” came into play. When I told some of my family that this is what I wanted to do, they looked at me as if I had a billion eyes or something! But they know my mindset and my personality – if I want to do something, I will make it happen. So their support was there till the end and onwards!
Roopa: Your collection debuted at Atlantic City Fashion Week in NJ and has received positive reviews. Why did you opt to start with a collection of resort wear? What was your inspiration for the looks? What would you say makes your collection unique?
Tirusha: The Executive Producers of Atlantic City Fashion Week pulled me aside after I showcased and said to me, “We didn’t expect that. You’re just full of surprises Tirusha.” And their Media Director said, “You scare me, Tirusha!” I guess they, along with a lot of other people, were expecting traditional Indian wear – lenghas, saris, salwars, etc. And that preconceived mindset is another reason why I chose to debut a collection of resort wear during ACFW. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to rock an anarkali or lengha whenever the occasion calls for one, but I wanted to create something that would appeal to the kind of person I am – a mix of East and West. As cliche as it sounds, I knew that it what would make my collection unique. Even the models were surprised when I pulled out crop-tops, capri pants, lounge wear, and tanks. They too, were expecting traditional Indian attire. But once the clothes hit the runway, it solidified my reasons even more. The inspiration for the looks was again a combination of what I am – East and West; I wanted the clothes to have a Western look to it, but I wanted the materials to pay homage to where my family is from in India. All the materials which were used to create my collection were from Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, India.
Roopa: What were the biggest challenges you faced in your journey to becoming a designer – i.e. in creating designs, putting a collection together, getting a venue to showcase them, etc.?
Tirusha: I felt that the biggest challenge in all of this was putting the actual collection together. The one thing I learned right away from working with all these designers, is that there are two ways to go about creating your collections: 1. you sketch out your designs and sew everything together yourself, or 2. you sketch and have a team of seamstresses sew for you. Both ways the designer is a part of the entire creative process because they’re picking the fabrics, making tweaks every now & then on the pieces, and giving their input the entire time. For me…I cannot sew a button on, even if my life depended on it. So, I had to fine a seamstress, and I thought nothing would be better than using my tailor back in India – and that’s where the challenge came into play. Not only was there a huge time difference between us, but communicating with him was the hardest thing imaginable. He would FaceTime or Skype me, and I’d be at work. Or, I’d try to call him and wake him up during his sleep. But we managed to make it happen, and after one trip to India and seeing everything in reality, I knew this was it!
Roopa: In addition to being editor of Bravura Magazine and a designer, you are also a pre-school teacher. How do you balance all these careers?
Tirusha: Balance? What’s balance?!
Haha…well, I balance it with very little sleep, a lot of coffee from one of my co-wokers at my school, Ashleigh, and extreme patience. I kid you not…if there’s ever a time I go to get coffee, I have to text her to make sure I order the right thing. I swear, it’s not because I’m a diva, high-strung, fashion magazine Editor…it’s just that I truly cannot order coffee properly!
But in all honestly, it’s truly with a lot of patience and dedication. As much as I love the high-fashion industry, it’s energy, ambiance and glamour, I love waking up everyday in the morning and knowing I will be walking into a classroom of 10 children who are so excited to see me and full of love, happiness, and pure innocence. There are times when I try to fuse my two lifestyles together and that’s when it becomes a lot more fun. Not too long ago, we had a special event at my school to honor early childhood education, and I invited Miss New Jersey, who competed for Miss America, to read to my school’s students and they absolutely loved it. They thought she was a Princess, but hey, it made their day! I’ve never seen them smile from ear to ear this much before!
Roopa: What are some of the biggest challenges still facing South Asian designers and fashionistas? We’ve seen Western brands steal elements from Indian designs, but we have yet to see a full scale Indian take-over. Do you think this will happen? Where do you see Indian fashion going?
Tirusha: Now, I don’t want to get all nerdy here, but since you’ve asked this question, I might as well give you a detailed response! (*laughs*) The recorded history of India’s clothing dates back to the 5th millennium BC. For those who don’t know, designer Rohit Khosla was coined as one of the pioneers of India’s fashion industry, when we founded co-founded “Ensemble” in 1987, with Tarun Tahiliani, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and others. There goes my nerd-side again! Haha! And it’s also very important to note that it was in 1986, that the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India opened the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Delhi with the help of FIT – Fashion Institute of Technology – in Manhattan. This was a game-changer, to say the least for India’s fashion industry. And now there are more than 15 branches across India. Talk about opening the doors for fashion designers!
Now bringing this all into 2014, the fashion industry in India is every growing. And since the inception of Lakme Fashion Week, I believe that South Asian designers are being given the platform to showcase their talents & creative desires. And due to other platforms such as Miss World & Miss Universe, South Asian designers are able to be seen & appreciated on an worldwide level. And if you take a look into some of the designers of India – Ritu Kumar, Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal, Manish Malhotra, Satya Paul, Tarun Tahiliani, JJ Valaya and Neeta Lula, to name a few – many of them have reached great heights in fashion that designers in America are still trying to grasp.
I think I just gave an super-long lecture there about India’s history in fashion, but it’s worth knowing! I think the designers in India have it in them to take-over, as you asked, but I also think there needs to be a stronger partnership on the side of those wearing these designers clothes. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to see Priyanka Chopra wearing Dior to IIFA or other mainstream, American designers; however, if she would’ve wore a design by a large Indian designer, imagine the recognition they would get on such a platform. I understand that you have to have a balance between who you wear, and when you wear it — I feel there’s some unwritten rules about that in fashion — but I think the partnership has to go both-ways. Now take American-Indian designer, Naeem Khan, for example. Not only has he styled & dressed Bollywood celebrities, but he’s a prime designer for the First Lady, Michelle Obama — now that’s called, ‘the best of both worlds.’
Did I answer your questions in there, somewhere?! (*laughs*)
Roopa: Do you think that you will stick to doing resort wear, or are you looking to branch out into other designs? Where can our readers see your designers and purchase them?
Tirusha: I don’t think I will do resort wear, right away, but it’s something I liked & would consider playing around with again. But at the same time, I want to challenge myself to even harder things. Right now I am working on something which would be great for kids, but at the same time, I’m sketching things which are high-fashion and couture. Right now my designs can be found on Facebook.com/DesignsByTirusha – clever, isn’t it?! And if they want to purchase something they see, they can contact me via Facebook or E-mail (tirusha@BravuraMagazine.com); and the best thing is, if something is sold, we can work together to make something else you might like!
Roopa: How do you define fashion? Which celebrity (hollywood or bollywood) would you want to give a style make-over to if given a chance?
Tirusha: I define fashion as your own personal style. A lot of people think that fashion is what’s on the cover of VOGUE, or hitting the runway during Fashion Week. Yes; those are amazing fashion styles, but it doesn’t define one’s personal sense of fashion. For me, fashion is showing who you are and carrying it. The hardest thing about fashion is being able to carry what you wear. What one sees on the runway might be amazing, but when you try it on, it may not suit your style. And people shouldn’t get sucked into this pipe where they think they have to wear the latest & hottest trends. Me, for one…I DO wear white post-Labor Day. I don’t think there should be a ‘fashion rule’ which states one cannot. I have some awesome white blazers, skinny jeans, and handbags which go awesome with my fall/winter clothes & accessories. So as the tagline for my magazine goes – Be yourself. Be bravura. Be exceptional. – the same should go for your fashion. BE YOU!
The one Bollywood celebrity I would love to style would have to be Deepika Padukone; she has such a spunk to her own personality, that dressing her in anything would only bring it about more. As for Hollywood, if given the opportunity, I would love to style Anne Hathaway. She’s one of my most favorite actresses, and whenever I see her dressed for an event, she’s always classy & chic, and I love that about her style.
Roopa: What advice do you have for those who want to break into fashion – as a writer, designer, model, etc.? Now that you have conquered fashion as a writer and designer, what is the next challenge you wish to take on?
Tirusha: The one piece of advice that I’ve been giving to anyone who asks me is to pursue what they are most passionate about. I cannot tell you what to do. Your friends cannot tell you and neither can your colleagues. Only you know what it is you want in life, and only YOU can attain that. I have a list of things I want to accomplish, some have dipped over from this bucket list I am attempting to follow-thru with…and no Roopa, before you ask, flying three times back to back is NOT one of them! Jokes aside though, I would love to showcase another collection, which I am working on, and also dip into film. I dabbled into video a bit when I worked with Ajaxxx on his latest music video, for which I also did the female vocals, and that sparked a new interest. A year ago I started outlining a short film, so who knows — maybe I might pick up the pencil and start writing that!
Roopa: Any other message for your fans and our readers?
Tirusha: I would just like to say thank you to EVERYONE who has supported me throughout the years. Whether it was starting off with Bravura Magazine or being there as I launched my debut collection, the support from everything — friends, family, press — has been TREMENDOUS. I could not have asked for anything more. Please be sure to check out Bravura Magazine on Facebook and Twitter, and Instagram as well. We’re launching our second digital issue soon and I cannot wait to see what people think about it! And remember…..be yourself, be bravura, be exceptional! Thank you Roopa, you’ve been awesome!