A prodigiously ambitious upstart went through the maze of New York fashion world, sometimes dressing up Michelle Obama to creating collections for the A-lister Hollywood fashonistas Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and American tele diva Oprah Winfrey, Bibhu Mohapatra’s scissors cut sumptuous colours and rich texture for few top Bollywood stars as well— Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor and Kareena Khan Kapoor, to just name a few. His natural curiosity, intelligence, a sharp eye on trends and skills that envies the world, Bibhu Mohapatra, the dazzling star who has convinced every fashion experts why he is the next big thing in the fashion galaxy, is beginning to head homeward. The Samaya caught up with Bibhu Mohapatra for a brief chat on his journey, his next move and his home coming.
It’s been an incredible 10 year journey for you. What it takes for an extremely ambitious man to find a survival kit in a fashion jungle like New York and excelling and soaring? And what has been your go-to approach in the face of doubts, despair and finding your feet so to say?
Staying positive and believing in yourself. There are times you often question yourself whether you have achieved success and sometimes things don’t work out , but you can’t let those events determine your focus and mission. I took an analogy from a friend of mine how while driving you not only look at your immediate road but also look far ahead. From those experiences you gain any grow. I have been very blessed to have good people around me and I received lot of support and lot of love.
It is one thing to build a brand that is global and it is growing by the day; it is completely another to take it beyond that, making it sustainable, timeless and one that would endure the challenges of generational shift in the fashion space, and staying true to its ethos. Are you going through that phase where you want it to morph into that space of longevity?
Always. Building a brand, and in the process people make the brand.You simply can’t build a brand by isolating yourself in a closed room. Being alive in the creative world what are people listening to these days? What are they seeing in that beautiful museum in Amsterdam? What are shifts happening culturally? All these things determine what are things poised to happen in the future. You stay true to that and pay very close attention to that. People hold keys to your brand.
You place people at the core of your brand. From a very elitist, celebrity-driven brand to reaching out to the masses, how is that a conscious attempt at breaking into that space which has its own challenges?
With a lot of research, with a lot of market research, the price points, what the needs are depending on where I’m launching.I’m yet to launch a India-focused collection that is made and sold in India and I have to do a lot of work before I do that. I got to do a lot of work in reading people’s lifestyle, what is their life, how a typical day is divide into various parts within that how one lives one’s life. I need to be connected as to what they do in their evenings and to do that I have to live here to understand that intimately to be in tune with that. Have to be very mindful of what is happening here.
You are extremely proud of your roots in Odisha, and you have made clear your rootedness to the state. How sooner, how keen you are looking at bringing your fashion footprint here tapping into the fine tradition of craftsmanship that the state possesses? A calling card that you have created in the West is demanding to be replicated here back home?
It will be my good fortune to be able to work with the artisans of of the state and be involved with the people of my state to enhance my products and my brand I’m looking forward to that day.
Interview by Sai Prasad Mohapatra