Tell me about your business and what you do?
Rajani: I’m an independent Canadian fashion designer. I started my namesake outerwear line after graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York City. I specialize in leather and wool and cashmere jackets. My designs are unconventional with a contemporary edge. The focus is on incorporating intricate and edgy details combined with quality and high style.
I’m the chief designer and the owner and operator of the brand. Basically I do everything from designing to marketing and selling the line.
For production, I make an honest effort to collaborate with companies that abide by fair trade and labour practices, and support local artisans and designers. This past year, I collaborated with an artisan group steeped in heritage from a small village in China that specializes in the art of handcrafted basket weaving. Through our collaboration, we’ve been able to improve their quality of life while keeping this traditional practice alive.
What’s your background and how did you get into the fashion design industry?
Rajani: My background is in finance and marketing but fashion was always a part of my life. Like all Indian parents, my dad was of the opinion that fashion can be a hobby so it was expected that I would make a career as an MBA or a doctor or an engineer.
When I moved to Canada, I had to go back to school to upgrade my qualification. Instead of going back to school and learning the same things I had learned in India, I chose to go to fashion school. I decided to move to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design, where my work was presented at Lord & Taylor’s 2008 line debut.
While at Parsons, I had an opportunity to intern for design houses such as Kahn Lucas, Ralph Lauren, Red Cat Group and John Varvatos.
In 2009, I moved back to Calgary and started a fashion boutique called Passione and launched my line, Malika Couture, in 2012, which was a made-to-measure collection.
Since then, the aesthetics and core of the brand has changed. My leather line came into existence when I was in the market for a leather jacket for myself and I soon realized they all looked the same or the ones that I liked were very highly priced.
I saw the gap in the market and decided to create a line that not only provides unique jackets but were fairly priced with impeccable quality. The key factor that I didn’t want to compromise was quality. My jackets are handwoven by experienced artisans and it takes a full day to weave one skin. We use the most supple lambskin leather that can be worn year-round. The clothing is as beautifully made on the inside as the outside using a soft and durable lining.
I officially launched my leather collection in 2015 under the brand name Malika Rajani.
Where is your clothing sold today?
Rajani: I mainly sell online through www.malikarajani.com, popup shops, word of mouth. I also sell via Instagram @Malika_Rajani and Facebook.
Other outlets are: Espy, Calgary in Inglewood; Ginger Laurier, Calgary in Britannia; The showroom, Toronto; Dreams On Air, New York City; Universal Body, Los Angeles; House of Fraser, Abu Dhabi UAE; Bauhaus Abu Dhabi UAE; Muse on Kings Road, London (coming soon).
What’s your vision for your business in the future?
Rajani: I’d love to make a mark both at home and in the international fashion scene, and maybe some day open a flagship store in one of the fashion cities of the world.
Asia is becoming a major market for fashion lately. I would love to have my presence there.
These plans may take some time and I’m hopeful they come to fruition one day.
What are some of the key trends you’re seeing in women’s fashion?
Rajani: With the impact of social media in today’s age, key trends in fashion are changing rapidly. Some of the most prominent key trends seen today are:
- Sustainable fashion. This trend is here to stay. It will have a bigger impact on people in the coming years.
- Wrap dresses and robe coats.
- Suiting is becoming the new ready-to-wear staple outfit.
- Statement pieces in bold, bright colours.
- Utility wear, for example cargo pants, belt bags, tool belts.
- Bucket hats.
- Luxe leather looks. Leather trench coats.
– Mario Toneguzzi