Couturier Payal Singhal has been dressing the modern Indian woman for 25 years, and here’s how she put in the work to make it happen

GRAZIA: 25 years in the making; what does Payal Singhal as a label stand for?

PAYAL SINGHAL: The Payal Singhal label is a contemporary India modern label, and that has been our ethos for 25 years. And while we are a luxury brand, we are also very congenial and honest, which is what draws our PS Girls to the brand. Our varied product lines across bridal wear, pret, resort, accessories, jewellery, home and beyond are testimony to that. In the last 25 years, we have evolved into a lifestyle brand, creating the PS world of our own.

G: How do you ensure that you keep adapting your designs for the younger demographic?

PS: In all honesty, it’s not something we have ever strategised to do. It has happened very organically. Tina Tahiliani of Ensemble complimented us on our 20th anniversary five years ago when she said, “The Payal Singhal label has been making clothes for 20-year-olds for 20 years.” I think that really captures the spirit of our collections — they are young, playful and fun. Timeless, no doubt, but also very now. I am very clued into what’s happening globally, and we try to capture the zeitgeist with our clothes, which is why it perhaps appeals to a younger audience. But that said, our patrons range from the ages of 2 to 90, so I can also proudly say we are age-agnostic and for anyone who resonates with our aesthetic.

G: What have been some of the standout moments in the course of your career?

PS: After 25 years in the industry, there are, of course, several milestones, but if I had to single them out, the first one would be winning the Shoppers Stop Designer of the Year award at the age of 15, which was instrumental in sealing my decision to pursue fashion. Starting my label at the age of 22, with stores in Mumbai (we still retail from the Altamount Road store we launched in our early years), is something I am very proud of as well. Showcasing at Fashion Week of the Americas and Singapore Fashion Week in 2003-2004 was another significant milestone. In 2005, we took the business internationally and opened a standalone store in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park back in 2005,  being the first Indian brand to have a flagship store in Manhattan. Over the years, we have really diversified our product line into a very versatile range, many of them in collaboration with other brands. I can confidently say that we have been frontrunners in fashion brands, collaborating with like-minded brands from other industries long before it became the norm du jour as it is today.G: What’s one thing about the fashion industry that only insiders are privy to?

PS: India is bursting with talent, and the world has now finally acknowledged our industry’s contribution to global fashion, but as a domestic industry we still need to be more organised. The Indian fashion industry lacks the unity and collective spirit needed to take us up there at par with the likes of Europe and Japan.G: How do you measure your success?

PS: At the cusp of 25 years, I am proud to have created an India modern lifestyle label from an original idea that was born in 1999. Back then, no one was making Indian clothes with Western influences like we were. That would be grounds for success for many, but I also feel success is relative. As a designer, I always want more. There is so much to do; I consider myself a student who wants to keep on learning and growing.G: How vital are trunk shows and fashion pop-ups in today’s time?

PS: They have always been important, and they’ve been a pivotal part of our global growth and presence. I find it a highly effective way to bridge the disconnect between the designer and the client by interacting and engaging with your customers in person. It is also one way to test new markets before strengthening your retail footprint there.

Photo Essay by Abheet Gidwani and Kushal Paramanand