Kaushik Velendra cements ambitions with new Mayfair headquarters; unveils flagship plans
Kaushik Velendra is on the move. The South Indian-born designer this week inaugurated his eponymous label’s new headquarters in Mayfair, in a grand Georgian location on Upper Brook Street. Nestled amongst upscale art galleries and a stone’s throw from Michelin-starred dining destination Le Gavroche, it’s a monumental milestone for a label that staged its first show just two years ago, in 2019.
“It’s a huge expansion for my label,” enthuses the 31-year-old designer, who was a 2020 semi-finalist for the LVMH Prize. His voluminous rounded power shoulders and romantic draping make for a distinct silhouette, and in an enviable two years for a fledgling label, it has dressed stars from Hollywood actress Priyanka Chopra-Jonas to socialite heiress Daphne Guiness (“The clothes may look like menswear but they can be worn by women or non-binary people too,” Velendra insists).
During the pandemic, the designer was also quick to embrace a new channel, kicking off an online made-to-order service in January 2021. “Our website allowed people across the world to continue to place orders. However, most of our products require a physical presence, so a lot of our bespoke garments were impacted,” Velendra concedes. “This is mainly when I decided to expand our brand into ready-to-wear affordable and accessible garments. We are predominantly a couture power dressing brand, but due to circumstances, this is a new venture for us as well.” And one which is all the more critical, as the label remains self-funded.
Ahead of his Fall 2022 collection, which will be presented on Friday 18 February during the women’s London Fashion Week, Velendra also revealed his ambitious expansion plans to FashionNetwork.com. With offices currently only in London, the label hopes to expand to Mumbai, LA and Dubai in the next two years, gaining a foothold in the Indian market, and in key cities for its global objectives. The label’s first London flagship is expected to open as soon as next month, where its ready-to-wear segment will be available to browse and purchase.
Until then, the Mayfair headquarters boast an airy and elegant retail point for VIP clients. Retaining the building’s historic cornices, the interiors are fitted out with furnishings in soft alabaster shades and with minimal decoration, all the better to emphasise the collections’ arresting contours and gentle andrognyous allure. The building is also home to the label’s offices; a VIP lounge, gym, and a courtyard with a folly gazebo housing a dramatic black spiral staircase down to the label’s discreet atelier. It’s here that the designer hopes to realise some grand ideas, and not just in design.
“We want to be able to create a community where we give out the space to them to host, along with us, any of their launches,” Velendra explains. It’s not an events pitch: his first atelier at 51 Hoxton Square, the former studio of Alexander McQueen, was also a venue made freely available to postgraduate students of Indian origin from his alma mater, Central Saint Martins.
“It’s a creative safe space,” the designer adds, revealing that the label has plans to hold monthly events to educate students on comprehensive brand operations; and to run mentorship programmes with the involvement of celebrity clients, who will be invited to speak.
Velendra is celebrating the move as a milestone both for his brand and for Indian and other ethnic minority designers.
“Most importantly what [the headquarters’ opening] means is positioning my country in a place that it hasn’t had a force, and to create a safe space, a mark for India as a whole – and to be one of the first Indian menswear labels in Mayfair,” the Bengaluru-born designer says enthusiastically.
“I don’t make clothes that you might expect from an ‘Indian designer’,” he adds, lightly shrugging off any expectations of traditional national fashion. “I bring ‘India’ through hospitality – that’s what you feel when you spend time with the brand. It’s the same energy and environment that we bring of love, taking care of one another. We’re creating a holistic moment for the brand and for what we do.”
Watch this space.
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