Vidhi Wadhwani, a fashion designer to be reckoned with in Nagpur, studied fashion at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), Delhi. She runs a fashion studio called ‘Vidhi Wadhwani – The Label’ in Nagpur, and supplies clothing to stores in Delhi, Gurgaon, Indore, Nagpur, Pune and Raipur. While many Bollywood divas (Sunny Leone, Shruti Haasan, Amrita Rao, Surveen Chawla, Lisa Haydon, Neeti Mohan, Shakti Mohan, etc.) have worn her creations, she has been showcasing her collections on big fashion platforms i.e. Gionee India Beach Fashion Week (Goa), Fuss (Kolkata), Lakme Fashion Week (Mumbai), etc.
In an interview with Nation Next, Vidhi Wadhwani speaks about her subtle fashion style and how’s Nagpur catching up with fashion trends.
How did you get into fashion designing?
I did my schooling from Centre Point School, Nagpur. Thereafter, I studied at Hislop College till 12thand then got a graduation degree from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi. I owe my creative skills to my mom (Sangeeta Sharma), who’s an artist and an interior designer herself. She always encouraged me to be creative, and motivated me to learn new things. Every time I came up with something new, no matter how petty or big it was, she always appreciated it, and encouraged me to do even better. As a 16-year-old, I told my mother that I want to get clothes and material from Delhi to display them in an exhibition in Nagpur. I was extremely apprehensive and thought she would say no, but she didn’t! She gave me the money and asked me to buy whatever I wanted to. I went ahead with that exhibition, which was the beginning of my entrepreneurship. Studying at NIFT gave me exposure in television, arts, fashion shows and back stage working and it’s this exposure, which made me realise that I’m good at illustrations and creating new ideas.
I wasn’t always interested in fashion. At NIFT, I studied both – fashion and Information Technology. By the end of final year of college, you start realising what you’re good at and what really your calling is. After college, I decided to take up fashion designing as a profession and started interning at Satya Paul. They loved my designs and even though they had so many interns, celebrities wore some of my designs and that motivated me a lot. When I came back to Nagpur, I started designing and creating new clothes with the help of an old tailor here, who used to make clothes for me when I was a kid. Then I travelled across India with my mother for her exhibitions. I would put up a small stall of the clothes that I designed. Gradually, I started doing well. My friends also appreciated my work and that boosted my confidence level.
You topped at NIFT. Your old friends say it was quite a transformation phase for you…
It was a big deal to get through NIFT as not many Nagpur girls would go out of the city to study in those days. Studying at NIFT was an eye opener of sorts for me. Prior to that, I used to go to Delhi quite often to visit my relatives but studying at a college in Delhi was completely different and exciting. I made the most of it, worked hard and enjoyed my college years. I used to participate in various competitions. Once, I got a chance to come on MTV along with my friends for an inter-college show called ‘Bum mein Dum,’ hosted by Nikhil Chinapa. We stood second in the competition, which involved climbing buildings and eating cockroaches and insects! Then, there was another show focusing on makeovers hosted by Femina Miss India Universe 1997, Nafisa Joseph, for which they selected me. I went through a drastic makeover and suddenly from being a girl next door, I was a happening girl and a rock star! Then, I got an opportunity to design menswear and I did that just to see if I was good at it or not. I enjoyed it. Coming from a small town like Nagpur, these opportunities changed and inspired me.
When did you start your studio in Nagpur?
Initially, I started working from my mother’s place, with just one tailor. Within six to eight months of returning to Nagpur, I got married to my childhood friend Kunal (Wadhwani). My label was then called Via by Vidhi, which I changed to Vidhi Wadhwani after marriage. It was after I got married that I started my studio at Ramdaspeth.
Your shared space with established and famous Indian designers at Gionee India Beach fashion week at Goa in 2015 in which Lisa Haydon walked down the ramp in the outfit you designed…
I was lucky that the organisers approached me for the IBFW at Goa. Lisa Haydon, being the showstopper, had to like and finalise my designs before she could agree to walk in them and so I sent my designs to her. I am happy that she loved them and agreed to walk in my creations. It was my first show outside Nagpur, and I didn’t expect it to be so good. Quite a few big names were associated with the show and I thought I would stand nowhere. But fortunately, the show was a success, and I got a lot of recognition because of that. It gave me confidence to take bigger risks and to come up with more innovative ideas.
We see a lot of Bollywood divas like Sunny Leone, Shruti Haasan, Surveen Chawla, Amrita Rao, etc. wearing your creations at a lot of shows and events. Have you been making any special efforts to market your label of late?
Not at all. In fact, these things often come as a surprise. As the Bollywood stars are very conscious about the style statements they make, they have to be quite choosy about the clothes they wear. There are a lot of stylists working on scouting for new designs for them. So, they pick my creations from any stores or at times contact me for particular shows and events. I think I’ve been lucky that these stars have been liking my work and endorsing the same.
What’s your idea of fashion?
I feel that every piece I make doesn’t have to be exceptional but it has to have one thing that makes it different; at least one special thing that sets it apart from others. I don’t think that everything should be too much in the face or too bold. I feel a good design should be very subtle yet individualistic.
Young girls today prefer wearing skimpy outfits. But the clothes you design are generally not like that…
That’s true. Now that I’m supplying to stores outside Nagpur I get a lot of requests from my clients to make the outfits a little sexier or bolder. I always tell my clients that I will do that but in my own subtle ways because I can’t design something that’s not me. One doesn’t need to show skin to look sexy. If you can carry yourself with confidence, that’s sexy!
There is a notion that any kind of fashion trend reaches Nagpur, five to ten years late. Is it true?
I don’t think so! Things have changed and social media has had a big role to play in it. Even the things that actresses wear can be seen online immediately. Fashion is changing at a fast pace, and there is nothing that is coming to Nagpur slowly. Nagpurians today are well-read and exposed to fashion and the world.
Young Nagpurians are increasingly getting into the fashion studies and taking it up as their career. What is your advice to them?
The only thing, which needs to be kept in mind, is that you’ve to be very passionate and persistent. Do not get attracted by the glamour and the fashion shows, as the fame is short lived. Focus on your work and be original. Don’t copy others because there are already too many people doing it!
You did not take a long break from work after your daughter’s birth. How do you do the balancing act between family and professional commitments?
I feel very lucky doing what I do and what I’m. I think it happens naturally if you love your work. I was dying to get back to work post my daughter’s birth. Fortunately, my family has always been very supportive. I think one just needs to balance things properly. Of course, my daughter will always be my priority but I make sure I balance and prioritise things. When I really need to give preference to my work, like during fashion shows or exhibitions, my daughter adjusts a little. Most of the times, I adjust my work schedule according to her. I feel that when my daughter grows up, she will be my biggest critic (for my work). And once she grows up, I would love to try out new things. I would love to travel, write and read a lot. I want to do many things and not limit myself to designing.