fashion designer Kanika Goyal© Instagram

#HELLONewGuard: Kanika Goyal On Redefining Indian Fashion

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Jeena J Billimoria

H! Factor: Redefining neo-luxury in the Indian fashionscape and making a global mark at the New York and Paris fashion weeks.

No-fuss and laid-back yet edgy neo-luxury vibes are what fashion designer Kanika Goyal serves best in each of her collections. Think comfort with luxurious craftsmanship and one-of-a-kind styles deliberate in their easy-chic aesthetic, and you have a classic KGL on your hands.

Not one to be boxed in by a single way of thought or flow for her eponymous label, it’s why this Delhi-based design genius has received several accolades for her work since launching the brand in 2014, including being named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019 and ranked as one of the top designers changing the face of Indian fashion.

She’s a regular at fashion weeks, including in New York and Paris and India’s Lakmé Fashion Week, and has a stronghold in the global market, as well. HELLO! chats with the celebrity favourite, who’s currently in Edinburgh, on what makes her the natural heiress to the throne of fashion in India.

HELLO!: Tell us about your professional journey that’s led you to where you are today.

Kanika Goyal: “I was born in Chandigarh, and post high school, my affinity for design transformed into a raging passion. I graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, and later, Parsons School of Design, New York, eager to experiment. I explored opportunities with the best in the industry, and after a series of internships and apprenticeships (Prada, Marchesa, the Adidas Group and Bibhu Mohapatra), I delved into the world of exquisite garments and, more importantly, bespoke philosophies. It was here that I streamlined it all into a singular, more compact design philosophy.”

H!: KGL garments are championed for being non-traditional and uber cool. From where do you derive fresh inspiration to stay on the fashion pulse?

KG: “We get influenced by the culture and the current scenario of questioning everything and, in return, try to influence and encourage the idea of being outspoken. In today’s day and age, when digital culture is shaping the youth, the internet and social media have profoundly changed the way we consume, evaluate, choose and behave. We’re simply trying to create a narrative that appeals to this new mindset, aiming to reflect the mind-over-matter approach.”

H!: Walk us through the USP and design process of your label.

KG: “The identity of my brand is rooted in the principle of paradox, quality craftsmanship and refined tailoring. KGL aims to always deliver intellectually designed, statement neo-luxury with ‘a cool brand’ element. The brand language embodies a youthful, free spirit that draws from the current zeitgeist and, in return, adds back to the cultural sphere with a vivid visual play of intersecting lines, sublime shapes, textures and tempting colours. Our perspective on self-expression and freedom of speech is built into the fabric of the brand. We celebrate non-traditionalism and intend to deconstruct the rigid perception of tailoring and gender stereotypes, using humour as a vehicle to communicate our values and ideas.”

H!: You’ve successfully broken into the international market with New York and Paris. Tell us how they happened and what a feat like this entails.

KG: “Creating a global brand was always our vision with KGL. We were just waiting for the right time to take a step in that direction. We got an opportunity to showcase at NYFW for Fall/Winter 2022, which was the beginning of our association with them. I have a special connect with New York as I studied there, so it felt like a homecoming when we debuted in 2022. The same year, we started working with a showroom in Paris for global sales to showcase during fashion week there, as well as a PR firm for global visibility. All of this opened up multiple avenues in different markets for us.”

H!: From M.I.A and Huda Kattan to Deepika Padukone, you’re no stranger to dressing celebrities. Who were the most memorable to dress?

KG: “I’m extremely grateful that we have received abundant love from celebrities and influencers since the very initiation of the brand. My most memorable would be the first time Alia Bhatt and Anushka Sharma wore KGL within two months of our launch. More recently, it’s been exciting to see global talent like DJ Snake, Manuel Turizo, Dadju and Cindy Bruna representing the brand.”

H!: In such a fast-paced industry, what keeps you motivated?

KG: “My own journey keeps me motivated. Reflecting on where I started from and envisioning my future aspirations for the brand keeps me going. My team plays a crucial role here. It’s the collective energy that matters and keeps us all on the same wavelength. It helps us visualise and move towards our goals together.”

H!: What do you envision for the future of KGL? 

KG: “A few points define the purpose of the brand, like following ethical, sustainable practices, uplifting crafts and communities, addressing cultural and socio-economic issues, and empowering voices that aren’t heard much. It’s about spreading happiness, positivity, nostalgia, humour and collaborations of different fields to deliver a relevant, classic, high-quality product. It’s important for brands to become social actors and to make sure that their work is empowering in reality, not just in theory.”

H!: Your advice for young women aiming for a spot in the fashion industry.

KG: “For anyone looking to venture into the fashion industry or even be an entrepreneur, discipline, consistency and hard work are vital. Be passionate about what you do, have a clear vision and in-depth knowledge of the industry. Talent alone won’t take you far if you aren’t ready to put in the hours.”

This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s January 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!