We sit down with Kaushik Velendra, a London-based menswear designer, with an instinctive appreciation for impactful clothing, whose trailblazing collections are reshaping modern menswear.
Originally from India, Kaushik Velendra became the first Indian-born student to graduate from the prestigious MA Fashion program at Central Saint Martin’s in 2019, and later had his graduate collection showcased during London Fashion Week in February 2019. He was also shortlisted for the LVMH Prize for its 2020 edition, having launched the label in 2019.
About Kaushik Velendra, the Man Behind the Brand
Debuting during the Autumn-Winter 2020 shows at London Fashion Week Men’s in January 2020, the critically acclaimed collection garnered exceptional industry reviews and recognition. Supporting the myriad of positive reviews and press, Velendra has also dressed the likes of supermodel Alton Mason for the Grammy Awards, Bollywood leading-man Ranveer Singh for the Filmfare Awards, and most recently the BFC Ambassador for Positive Change and Hollywood star, Priyanka Chopra who wore one of his armor inspired designs to host the Fashion Awards 2020.
Velendra’s approach remains one that aims to instill a sense of power and confidence, whilst being inclusive to all genders and sizes. Having set up his atelier in east London, a space once occupied by the late Alexander McQueen, Velendra is opening up his studio as a safe working space for Indian students struggling to find a creative space.
Let’s dive into his interview with us on who he is, his influences, inspirations, and many other things!
When did you first want to be part of this profession?
“Fashion is something that I’ve always had an interest in, but I never saw it as my definitive path. The reason I ended up in fashion was more as a need for survival. I had a plethora of jobs previously, making candles and as a light technician as well as jobs in retail, for example. I’ve worked my way up from being a Kollywood cinema clothes ironer to a fully-fledged costume designer to where I am now, a Founder and Creative Director of my own brand based in London.”
Do you recall your earliest influences?
“People have given me inspiration in the past, however, I wouldn’t say I have ever had specific influences,” states Kaushik Velendra.
What influences you, Kaushik Velendra, and your collections now?
“My brand has always been about bringing people together which is something we couldn’t do at that time. Our core brand values are community, inclusivity and diversity and these will be maintained as the brand progresses. I will always create collections that can be worn by people from all walks of life.”
You went from costume designing to your first fashion show at London Fashion Week within a year, what was that journey like?
“All my life I feel I’ve been working towards a series of moments. This whole time I’ve been developing skills simultaneously; designing, sales, management, business. Being able to show at London Fashion Week in my first year out of CSM was a huge step and one of my big moments.”
You have dressed a plethora of celebrities that all have different styles so how does your creative process work when working with different personalities?
“We couldn’t invite people to the atelier due to the pandemic, but we never stopped working and designing which has always been a constant process for me and the brands. We didn’t take measurements and we worked across a neutral anatomy-based structure which has allowed me to cater to all sizes and body types and transcend from menswear to womenswear. We have continued with this process as the world has returned to a “new normal”.
Whenever someone enters my atelier, they are completely transported to a magical world. Another core value of our brand is hospitality and I try to give people an experience where they become the best version of themselves when they wear my clothes.”
What stereotypes do you want to change about Indian fashion and menswear in India?
Here is how Kaushik Velendra describes changing stereoptypes:
“I feel a huge responsibility as a prominent Indian designer in the UK. I’m creating a legacy for myself and for my country. Many people have a stereotype of what Indian fashion is and should be but for me, I use my background in a way that creates something one wouldn’t usually expect, that’s what I will continue to do. I want to inspire others to nourish and reimagine their individual creativity regardless of background.”
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say my personal style is classic and perfectly groomed. I believe in power dressing in shades of black which directly translates to my designs.
Tell us what your average day looks like?
I feel one of my great purposes in life aside from creating, which I do every day, is inspiring and supporting others. That will always be at the forefront of my mind as I plan how I spend my time day-to-day. Fitness is also an important part of my daily life; I believe in presenting the best version of yourself which I also promote through my brand. I also love enjoying an evening out with good friends and food.
Your dream person/(s) to design for?
“I have dressed prominent people from all over the world and we have been honored to dress many stars but next on my list would be someone like Timothee Chalamet or Harry Styles.”