JJ Valaya’s name is synonymous with uncompromised craftsmanship and exquisite age-old techniques. He is a NIFT graduate, a founding member of the Fashion Design Council of India, and the ultimate czar of Indian couture. In an exclusive interview with FinancialExpress.com’s Eshita Bhargava, he spoke about his experience at Lakme Fashion Week 2023, Metaverse and NFTs becoming a part of the fashion industry, luxury fashion wear, and more:
How was your experience showcasing the collection at Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI?
I’ve been a part of various fashion weeks and couture weeks over the years but it’s always a pleasure being a part of something which is the benchmark of credible fashion in India
What are your early memories of designing luxury wear?
Designing luxury wear has always been my forte and it’s been around 33 years since the journey started. I have always believed that this has always been my true calling. My earliest memories go back to my days at NIFT when I was graduating. It was a conscious choice to launch my label upon graduation. There has been a significant amount of learning, because being a part of the pioneering group of Indian fashion designers, there weren’t enough concrete references to pick up from. Through my years of experience, I have had my fair share of learnings that have helped in putting the brand together for what it is today.
What’s your USP?
I believe our USP would be to champion the cause of keeping the past alive. This has become increasingly important, because of the digital onslaught upon us, it’s quite probable that the generations to come will not essentially understand the value of handcraft and how painstaking labour was put together by so many wonderful artisans. So, to keep them relevant, I always tend to modernize my work to add a touch of contemporary-ness, while also ensuring that the sense of timelessness isn’t taken away, because that’s the only way they will endure.
With Metaverse and NFTs becoming a part of the fashion industry, what do you think is the future of fashion?
If we talk about the future of mankind, one can rightly say that fashion is one small portion of a larger existence which is of the human race. As we speak, things around us keep radically changing, and no one could have possibly imagined that the entire world would exist in a slab of glass in the palm of our hand. For instance, I could have never imagined interviewing without an actual interviewee sitting across and having that conversation face-to-face. So, there has been a radical change in the way we are living, and I believe that’s what evolution is all about at the end of the day.
However, the challenge will always be to understand how much we let technology control our lives, and that’s the real test that lies ahead. With the digital onslaught, you practically have a store in every little corner of the world and are accessible to anyone across the globe. The reach has increased and it’s only going to get better in the days to come.
Today, you’re dealing with a new generation of customers who are online savvy and always thinking about trends and experimenting. What do you appreciate about these customers, and what do you feel is missing if compared to those in the past?
One can say this is also a part of the evolution process. The newer generation today is absolutely smitten by social media and it pretty much commands their way through life
Our flagship experience at the JW Marriott in New Delhi is very special and we hope to replicate that across the core cities of India. Along with that, we are also exploring a brand-new world of bridges to luxury through JJV, our luxury pret line, which will shortly be coming up across various cities of India.
What are winter fashion trends that we’ll witness?
I have always been a core supporter of how I embrace the past. I usually whisk through the trends to understand what makes fashion interesting and then I see what I can do to adapt to create timeless pieces. I have not been a firm believer in radically chasing trends, but I keep redefining my newest ranges and collections as per trends.