Niki Srinivasa is a 20 years old Fashion Designer. Growing up, she didn’t always have the best sense of style, and she always convinced herself that it could be because fashion wasn’t her “thing.” But as she got older, she began to realize that in truth, the problem was the message the media was portraying about beauty and what it should be. She was never the same size as her peers and for so long she viewed that as a problem with herself, but she came to realize that she was not the problem, but the messages being portrayed were.
”That’s why female empowerment and body positivity are so important to me, and are truly at the cornerstone of who I am. My brand is centered in the mission that all women should be able to wear beautiful clothing that makes them feel good; In other words, I believe that style should have no number attached to it. I feel so fortunate to have gotten the opportunities to share my story on amazing platforms like Fashinnovation, and to showcase my collection at not only New York Fashion Week, but also Paris Fashion Week as well (after NYFW last September I was named as one of five in the world as a one to watch talent and invited to show in Paris too!). I hope to contribute to blazing a trail in this industry- and helping to move it towards being more inclusive and embracing diversity, which I also hope to do through all my endeavors, clothing lines, Fashion Weeks, and projects I pursue moving forward!”
A TALK WITH NIKI SRINIVASA X 33 MAGAZINE
Describe your brand in five words.
My brand is: Innovative, Inclusive, Classic, Chic and sophisticated
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Growing up as a young woman who happened to be larger than my peers was not easy. I didn’t always have the best sense of style, and I always convinced myself that it could be because fashion wasn’t my “thing.” But as I got older, I began to realize that in truth, the issues lied in the message the media was sending about beauty and what it should be, and I internalized those messages as signs that my body type could never be classically beautiful. Not being the same size as my peers or being able to shop in some of the stores they did made me feel as if there was a problem with body for so many years of my life. But once I finally came to realize that I was not the problem, but the messages were, I began to see not only myself but fashion and style in a new light.
I began to fall in love with fashion, once I decided that I needed to believe in my own beauty, and in the beauty of all women and all sizes. I created my first line in my junior year of high school, and it was a line that told my mom’s life journey (my mom is my biggest inspiration- she raised me and my sister as a single mom, and is exemplary of what a strong woman is to me!) of growing up in India, through clothing. That was also the moment I knew that fashion was my calling. I knew I was meant to be a game changer and be a new voice in the industry. That’s why female empowerment and body positivity are so important to me, and are truly at the cornerstone of who I am!
How your brand’s mission evolved starting with your first collection?
Because of how I was inspired to get my start in fashion, my brand vision and mission has always been to be make a positive impact on the industry. Since I created my first collection a few years ago, I have definitely streamlined my mission to be more focused on Body Positivity and inclusivity; I really want to help fashion become an industry that embraces diversity, and becomes inclusive!
In your experience, what are some of the other negative points regarding fashion design schools?
I think the things that possibly are viewed as negatives in regards to fashion design schools are a couple of key things. The first, in my opinion, is the fact that these design schools don’t always provide any PR/Business education in their fashion design curriculum- which can in some cases lead to aspiring designers not knowing how to run a brand or label and thus potentially setting them up for starting off on the wrong foot in the industry. The other thing I believe is that these design programs are often so rigorous, which is a wonderful thing for so many reasons, that it can be quite difficult for students to gain real-world and industry experience. While eduction is a wonderful thing and should not be looked down upon at all, it is still true that experience is first and foremost one of the most important things needed in this particular industry.
How sustainability can change fashion industry? Do you think we can see, in the next future, a positive change regarding sustainable design?
Sustainability is by far the future of the industry. Fast Fashion is one of the biggest contributors to our global warming and environmental concerns. Many of the players in the industry are transitioning into using sustainable resources and materials- which is great- but to see the transition through, I believe that it’ll come down to whether or not the biggest brands and power houses in the industry choose to make the transition too! If we start to see these brands make the changes, then we could definitely see sustainability in the future of the fashion industry.
In your opinion, will it be the consumer who will facilitate the change in the supply chain or will it be the design and manufacturing industry?
I definitely think that that power lies predominantly in the hands of the consumer. Design and manufacturing are largely based on needs and demand, so if the consumer starts to feel the need for changes, updates or new designs, then designers- who strive to please, retain and attract new customers- would be inclined to adjust or alter their strategies and design plans, which then affects the manufacturing approach too. Consumers are vital and definitely have a much larger impact than I think is traditionally discussed!
What should a customer expect when buying your brand?
They should expect to have an enjoyable experience- one that empowers women to feel amazing in the clothing they’ll receive. My brand is all about positivity, and I want the customer to know how valued they are, and to know that they are going to receive the highest quality clothing that was designed with love.
What drives your inspiration for your design?
I pull inspiration from so many different parts of my life. My family definitely inspires me, and I have created a lot of my pieces by manifesting the emotions and memories I have with different members of my family in creative ways like in the creation of a garment! I also pull from different things I come across- a single color, detail or idea for a silhouette can inspire a whole collection for me! I am always sketching and brainstorming.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a designer?
I am so passionate about my brand and designs, and work hard to continue to work towards my goals and dreams. Even so, there are definitely some intrinsic barriers-to- entry when trying to burst onto the scene as a new designer. Finances are definitely something that have been challenging; it is by no means an inexpensive endeavor to build a brand or to create a collection/put on a show. I think this is definitely something that sadly does hinder so many wonderful and talented people from being able to show their ideas and design aesthetics. Even so, I firmly believe that consistent hard work begets success and growth. If you believe in yourself, the challenges and obstacles you face no longer seem like barriers preventing you from achieving success, but more so like temporary roadblocks that you might just have to work a bit harder on to move around- but it is completely possible to do!
Would you like to showcase your collection in one of the most important fashion weeks around the world?
I am very fortunate that this past September, I was given the opportunity to show my debut collection at New York Fashion Week. It was an amazing experience and because of the reception of my collection, I was named a one to watch talent, and invited to show in Paris Fashion Week too! It was my fashion month debut, and I am so grateful for how it ended up. But, of course- it is something that makes me so excited to think that I have the opportunity to show in any way possible. I am really looking forward to the possibility of showing in London/Milan hopefully sometime in the future, and in any other cities that are fitting and in which the opportunity presents itself to participate in.
What we should expect next from you?
There are a lot of really exciting things coming up for me this year! It’s really going to be a year of growth and working on increasing exposure through some really exciting projects. I can’t speak about too many of them just yet, but I am really looking forward to continue to work hard on building my brand!