Imagination rings forth his sharp design sense. Black has always been an important element of his textured designs which fuse tailoring with tough cuts and original patterns. This particular collection put his hometown textile and weaves on the line in sharp tailoring that dove deeper into subcultures and raised the bar a little bit higher. Atsu consistently pushes growth and design lines that keep the brand rooted in culture with focus on the future
Photography: Runvijay Paul Hair and make up: Radhika Khunteta
HOW OLD IS THE BRAND AND WHEN WAS IT STARTED, TELL US THE STORY I launched my label ATSU in 2007. During that time I was one of the few western wear designers in India and international brands had not yet entered the Indian market. It was a niche market and it was a challenge for me to educate Indian customers and breakthrough the domestic market which was only exposed to traditional wear. It was also a good time for me as international magazines were entering the market and soon my label got noticed at a very short span of time. That’s how my label picked up and I started my journey.
WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR DESIGNS From the time I started, my vision was always to make wearable, chic and feminine clothing. The inspiration could be from anywhere but my design philosophy remains the same.
HOW MANY COLLECTIONS DO YOU create IN A YEAR We do four collections (Spring/Summer, Resort, Pre-fall, Fall/Winter) plus small capsule collections as we cater to different markets and regions which have completely different looks and clientele.
EVERY COLLECTION OF YOURS LOOK COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM THE PREVIOUS Like I had mentioned that we cater to a global market, we design collections accordingly for US, Middle East and Indian market. We have ATSU PRET and ATSU cocktail/evening line which stands apart from each other but my sensibility and essence will always remain the same. Every season I draw inspiration from a unique concept; be it a country, culture or craft.
WE LOVE THE LAST COLLECTION (THE ONE WE HAVE — USED). IT IS SO PUNK YET so PRETTY. we hope we did justice with the styling My Fall/Winter line was inspired a lot by Naga textile and weaves, our most common black and white stripes which is found in most Naga shawls. I played a lot with the geometric stripes and worked on silhouettes which was clean, modern and understated. Yes, a little punk as well. I was in the mood to see my ATSU women in a new avatar this season and move away from the ultra feminine vibe and make her look stronger, more grown up and sexy.
WHAT KIND OF CUSTOMERS IN INDIA BUY AN ATSU DRESS Most of my clientele are working women, someone who is well travelled, who understands and appreciates design and quality.
WHO IS THAT ONE PERSON YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR creation ON I have always envision my designs on Cate Blanchett.
iS IT A CHALLENGE MAKING WESTERN CLOTHES CONSIDERING THE OPTIONS PEOPLE HAVE AS SUPPOSED TO Making WEDDING AND TRADITIONAL CLOTHES With the invasion of international high street brands all over the market, there is a big challenge for western wear designers to educate customers to identify a designer brand from a high street brand. It is slowly changing and we have seen the growth of western wear designers in India over the past two/three years.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL THINGS ARE GETTING STAGNANT I travel. That’s when I feel rejuvenated and my creativity comes back. Whenever I go to a new country, apart from discovering the costumes/culture I love seeing the local street fashion. A lot of my inspiration comes street fashion as well.
WHAT IS THE USP OF THE LABEL Understated elegance.
FIVE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR ASPIRING DESIGNERS IN INDIA Originality, confidence, a good business sense, ability to take criticism, and to be able to adapt to change according to market demand.
WHICH BRAND SURPRISED AND INSPIRED YOU IN 2016 GUCCI was one brand which totally shook the fashion world when Alessandro Michele joined as creative director in 2015. Ever since it’s amazing to see the growth of Gucci and how popular the brand has been.
WHAT IS the brand’s BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT yet I am very proud of my achievement and how far the brand has reached till now, but I feel the best is yet to come.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ATSU IN 5 YEARS The brand has grown immensely over the years and I think it is time to explore new markets, collaborate and expand further.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2017 We will be soon launching our e-commerce website. Also ATSU HOME is in the pipeline.
WILL THE LABEL EVER COME UP WITH MENSWEAR We do small capsule collections but unfortunately our womenswear has a bigger demand so we focus more on our womenswear.
What is the experience of seeing someone in something you’ve designed It always feels good to see a non-celebrity wearing your outfit because then you know that your brand is out there and being appreciated.
WHAT ABOUT FASHION IN INDIA WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CHANGE With so many international brands available at your doorstep I think even now Indian women don’t know how to put their clothes together. They need to understand their body type and learn how to carry western outfits without following trends blindly.
WHICH OTHER INDIAN BRANDS DO YOU WEAR I am a big fan of menswear brands like Rajesh Pratap Singh and CUE by Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna but unfortunately I don’t really get to wear these big brands. I am a high street kind of guy who can survive with just few basics and casual everyday wear from Topman, COS or Zara.
what can designers in india do to promote THE BRAND AMONG PEOPLE WHO are looking for more options Keep price points affordable, introduce pret lines and collaborate with big high street brands or online brands to make capsule collections.
HARD WORK OR TALENT Both! Even if you are super talented, if you are not hardworking it will take you nowhere. And yes, luck also plays a major role. Being there at the right time and right place.
WHO WOULD YOU EMPLOY: DESIGN STUDENT OR someone with no design background but with a CREATIVE head Being creative is great but if I have to employ someone for a particular post I would always look for his or her work experience because sometimes your fashion education or creativity will not prove that you can be of any use to the establishment/company if you cannot deliver or live up to your job profile.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN AN new EMPLOYEE or intern Punctuality, dedication but most of all, the ability to perform under pressure.
HOW ACTIVE ARE YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA AS A BRAND, how IMPORTANT is it I think it’s very important to be active on social media in this day and age because through this medium you get to reach out to so many customers, business contacts and clients across the globe. It is a one platform for all.
IF THE BRAND HAD TO INVEST IN ONE THING WHICH WOULD IT BE, FROM THE FOLLOWING? ALSO EXPLAIN WHY:
1. BLOGGER COLLABORATION: Great way to reach out to the youth and social media.
2. AD CAMPAIGN IN MAGAZINES: Another way to take your brand one notch higher.
3. MAKING AN ACTOR WEAR THE BRAND: Culminates to great sales and brand awareness.
4. SHOW CASE AT A FASHION WEEK: The best platform to show the world what your vision is. You present your inspiration/story in these few minutes to your buyers and customers.
THREE HINTS for YOUR NEXT COLLECTION Vintage, Cocktail, Modern.