Beyond Identities & Borders: Designer Dhruv Kapoor Opens A Window Into His Vision

The Embracer
The EmbracerDhruv Kapoor

Pivoting the global cultural lens through design and innovation, Dhruv Kapoor has become the first Indian designer to stage a menswear show at Milan Fashion Week. His namesake label reflects a shared curiosity to explore the many uncharted landscapes of creative expression. One can identify their zeal to craft a new vision for menswear, beyond social and cultural constraints. The label is known to challenge restrictive aesthetics bound by borders and is continuing to foster a global audience that embraces fluidity. 

Kapoor, who studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, later moved to Milan in 2011 and completed his Master’s degree at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni. As evident in his collections, he often marries distinct cultural influences into a single extravagant tale of design; one that resonates with the collective human spirit instead of catering to a particular ethnic group. This multi-layered approach is what sets Dhruv Kapoor apart and feeds his global influence.

The interplay between vintage and futuristic influences also occupies a central place in the brand's visual story; emphasising contemporary features through an electric use of materials, celebrating individualistic taste and awareness, all while carrying strong undertones of old-world expressions. It is through this bold acceptance of changing aesthetics that they are able to master innovation and artistic freedom.

Their recent collection ‘The Embracer’ is an amalgamation of different perceptions that juxtapose ostensibly polar mindsets. Sharing the many influences and inspirations behind this vision, the designer speaks to Homegrown about the unique experience of curating this collection and his vision for the future. 

What is your earliest memory of leaning into the creative forces of fashion?

Oh! That would go back to junior school. I remember asking my mom to sketch some cartoon characters and all I wanted to do was fill colour in whatever they were wearing. Then it eventually moved to jewellery during middle school, and I was sure of my direction by 9th grade- I was sure of where I want to be.

Who is currently on your playlist?

It varies throughout the day. From binaural beats to boiler room mixes to some Brent Faiyaz and J Cole.

In a world that is constantly changing, what does your brand (you) hope to say?

To be authentic. Nothing in this world should shake who 'you' are. Our brand stands as a reminder of our infinite nature, our unmatched power and our interconnectedness.

Who is Dhruv Kapoor, beyond ‘Dhruv Kapoor’ the brand?

A keen observer. I admire varied mindsets around me and am obsessed with mind in general. At home, you would mostly find me reading literature on the mind, the subconscious and the paraphysical world.

Dhruv Kapoor as a label emphatically dismantles societal and cultural agendas with an uninhibited sartorial expression. How do you manage to weave these cultural narratives into the distinct essence of the brand?

This is a natural result of our design process. Which aims to target the mind, the soul and the intangible impact of clothes, devoid of social and political boundaries or gender-based roles. From a cultural point of view, the brand evolves as an eclectic mix of the extravagance in terms of colour, surface and materials India has to offer and what I grew up with that is mixed with the minimal aesthetic and my interest in sharp tailoring that I acquired during my time in Milan. Culture for me is a mindset, but we take it as our responsibility to expand the consumer mindset through new perspectives that connect us all as one.

‘The Embracer’ showcases the interplay between polarising mindsets, forming a tranquil synergy between opposing forces. Could you talk a little about the process behind achieving this electric visual story and how were you able to take cues from unique origins to further juxtapose them into a multi-dimensional collection?

The collection was a reaction to floating mindsets around me and the literature that I mostly read. Through the seasonal projection, it was our aim to educate our consumer and even ourselves; about the multiple personalities a person has and the choices we make every second of our life, that build these personalities or traits. It was about making a conscious decision about who we wish to be, which can happen if we are aware of it. One is free to be soft or romantic or decisive or all of them at once, but at the end, the essence is always the same. We then looked at polar concepts, materials and surfaces to merge them together.

As a designer, could you tell us more about the multitude of influences that have inspired your vision with this particular collection? How do they take forward the evolving design philosophy and ethos of the menswear category at a homegrown and global level?

We aim to retain a 'genderful' approach to each product and the influences are plenty. I always make it a point to remind my team that we are never bound by our country, our thoughts or social, political and cultural practices. As the new world has the ability to focus on individuality and oneness at the same time. The product is ultimately the same throughout the world and we aim to tap into the intangible 'feeling' a product, colour or shape would have on our audience. 'How do you wish to feel?' is our approach to each product. From a business perspective: our global audience for menswear is growing at lightening speed. The moods, wants and desires are mostly identical thanks to social channels that connect us to one another, only the approach changes. Some prefer elevated basics whereas some prefer the OTT pieces. However, men in general are stepping away from stereotypical or predefined roles; becoming more experimental and accepting of new ideologies that stand true for them on a personal level- be it through nail paint, jewellery or even dresses. It is all about freedom of expression when it comes to ideologies, their mindset and how they wish to project themselves to the world around them.

Your distinct cultural influence took an alternate form at the Milan Fashion Week. This runway collaboration with Godzilla ushered in a new zeal and vision for Indian fashion. What was your experience and what does this showcase mean for the future of Dhruv Kapoor?

Godzilla the film was always an obsession, and it was through their monsters and their individualistic traits or powers we could further enhance the message for the season. We are looking at multiple collaborations across all spectrums and I enjoy the approach of mixing different mindsets, approaches birthing a new aesthetic that fits our global audience.

Known as one of the few visionaries to step into a new cultural niche, you have inspired a wave of contemporary South Asian designers who seek to channel a revolution through fashion. What are your hopes with this rising transformation?

Consistency, commitment and authenticity are key. I am happy to see young creators coming out from around the world, each with their individualistic approach and a personalised point of view. The only advice I would give is to never give up and to dream real, real big. There is a way it all falls into place. Never focus on the 'how' but instead only on your vision and the end goals. The process shall manifest itself.

How do you view ‘Homegrown’ - the movement; the ethos?

It is one of my favourite initiatives from the country. It is essential to provide new creators a platform to be discovered by larger audiences and Homegrown is successfully offering that space. That spark through your involvement can ignite our futures and help us reach larger audiences at a global scale.

Explore the collection here.

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