From runaway child to runway success, Vaishali Shadangule’s path from the small town of Vidhisha, MadhyaPradesh to the most watched catwalks of India, has had its share of ups and downs, but she has never strayed from her hand loom leanings.Born in MadhyaPradesh, she was denied higher education for the sake of marriage. “Like any other village girl, my parents wanted to get me married,” she recollects.
But Vaishali was desperate to find a purpose in life, and equally adamant not to accept defeat so soon. Fearful at the prospect of getting married, she ran away from home and boarded the first train that arrived on the platform. She reached Bhopal without any money or belongings.
She was only 18 years old at the time, but was determined to make it big in the fashion world. With no experience in the industry, she banked upon her natural flair and aesthetic sensibilities about fashion, which she inherited from her father who was an artist.
Vaishali spent her first night away from home at the railway station till she was rescued by a friend. The same friend helped her get a job as an office assistant. “There were not very bright prospects but I feel my inner strength and people around me, my friends helped me to make it happen,” says the designer.
Surviving on an income of 500 from her first job, she was still far from her dream of making it big in the world of fashion.“I did my Bsc. from Barkatullah University in Bhopal and later, I got into a small fashion institute,” says Vaishali. But she could not pay for the course and was asked to leave.
However, that brief period in the fashion institute helped her understand a few stitches and cuts, and she managed to create her own portfolio. While sourcing fashion syllabus from friends studying fashion, to attending fashion seminars whenever possible her journey had just begun.
In 1999 Graduating in Science, she moved to Mumbai and found work in an export house. Her salary of Rs 11,000 per month was saved, apart from a fraction that went into paying her rent. The money came in handy when she developed a slip disc problem that left her bedridden for months. The injury depleted her bank balance. Already battling financial problems, her inability to speak English fluently, and her unfamiliarity with the fashion circles, made things worse for her.
Vaishali worked as a fitness instructor in a local gym for a brief period of time, and began giving ideas to her clients there. People who frequented the gym loved her ideas, and she soon began her stint as a designer.
“A bank manager there helped me get a loan of Rs.50,000 with which I opened my first store in Malad. I was designing corsets at a time when it was associated with only film stars. In the times when European fashion was in vogue, I modernised the traditional fabrics and gave a new look to the fading designs,” she says.
Vaishali’s faith in herself paid off, and her label, Vaishali S, moved from a small store to a multi-storeyed boutique. She also enrolled herself in Delhi’s Pearl Academy to get the required training she could not afford earlier.
She made use of similarly traditional cloth in this year’s show too. “Jaya Shree Textiles of the Aditya Birla Group helped me to experiment with a new yarn made by combining linen and silk.
In 2011, the Vaishali S label was unveiled at Mumbai’s Lakme Fashion Week. The collection stood out for its unique handloom prints. Ever since, she has been a regular at fashion weeks across the country, and she continues to impress for her unabashed love for Indian crafts.
A little over 12 years later she employs over 65 people at Vaishali S, a design house of some repute in Mumbai. Her flagship store is a sprawling 2,000 sq feet multi-level outlet in the upscale northern suburb of Juhu. Her commitment to remain true to her one-of-a-kind vision of creating contemporary designs from Indian hand woven textiles has borne fruit through her two stores in Mumbai and in Delhi.
Talking about her collection, Vaishali says, “I was introduced to the magic of Muga Silk and its design during my visit to Assam last year. In my collection, I have tried to incorporate elements of Mekhla that symbolizes the complex lanes and architectural design of the villages of the state. While working on the color palette of this collection, I was truly motivated by the 400 female weavers who supported me and brought alive my creativity.”
Over the period, Vaishali has fabricated a range of collection and produced 12 successful collections at popular fashion shows like Wills Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week.Her admirable skills at merging the two sides of the world; Indian and Western, is remarkable.
The fashion diva Sonam Kapoor has been donning her apparels. In fact, she has also clothed Vidya Balan and Tanisha Mukherjee.
She is one of the well-known aspiring designers in the fashion industry and today she has graced the fashion world with her scintillating collection. She has delicately put together simplicity and finesse. And with her AIFWSS ’16 collection, she has justified her art by mixing Indian fabric in the Indo-western ensemble.
Inspired by the traditional performing art form of India in Maharashtra, Vaishali Shadangule’s summer-resort 2015 collection called “Behrupia” inspired her to use this theme. Like the human Behrupia, Vaishali zeroed in on the thread, which turns into khand, the famous textile of Maharashtra known for its artful hand weave. Mixing khand with khadi, Vaishali reinvented the textiles and presented them in modern shapes with intricate geometric construction for dual-tone creations. For lovers of Indian textiles with a creative twist, Vaishali Shadangule’s ‘Behrupia’ collection will add a surprise element to the wardrobe.
Since 2016, Vaishali has taken her label to international shores, presenting her collections at the prestigious New York Fashion Week.“ Showcasing first time at fashion weeks in Delhi and Mumbai were happy and satisfying moments for me as a designer. Similarly, receiving appreciation in New York from people of various countries is very valuable to me,” she says.
A out-and-out champion for Indian weaves, Vaishali’s collection is slated to be presented on September 8. The designer will be showcasing the brand’s new Spring/Summer 2017 line titled ‘And Quiet Flows the Thread’. “Showcasing its SS’17 collection at New York Fashion Week, will be Vaishali S’s first step towards building the bridge between India’s century-old hand-weaving tradition and introducing it to the world,” Shadangule says.
Her collection is an attempt to find a fine balance through knots and threads, depicting the flow of life. The idea is to carry this flow through the garments. The knots culminate at a point, which holds the entire garment together. Vaishali says showcasing the collection at NYFW will open up new avenues.
“This opportunity will open an avenue not only for me and other designers, but also for the entire community of Indian textile makers and handloom weavers to get their craft noticed and acknowledged in the international fashion industry,” she adds.
Her products are retailed from Fuel, Ogaan (Delhi), Rudhraksh (Pune), Aza & Atosa (Mumbai) and her own outlets in Mumbai. Items in her latest collection are priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 2,00,000. Crafted out of saris woven as per her specifications, her designs are an attempt to let the fabric retain its natural flow. So you’ll find wraps galore and zips only when required. The cost of her creations starts at around Rs 5,000, but can go up to Rs 30,000 – 35,000.
The brand that bears her name is a clothing line that encompasses contemporary and traditional Indian wear, Indo-western and western wear. The label stands for a modern attitude, comfort and innovative style stemming from a wealth of ideas that blends the modern with the vastness of Indian textiles. Besides designing for her label, she also has licensed her label and designs to retail houses.
Different looms offer a variety of palettes and textures and Vaishali is determined to explore. Chanderi from the looms of MadhyaPradesh, Mekhalachadder from the women-dominated looms of Assam; the vibrant Khands and Paithini of Maharashtra and the delicate Jamdani and Khadi of Bengal… she seems determined to give the products of traditional hand looms an international stage.
Vaishali is mother to a beautiful daughter and got in touch with her parents, made them proud with her achievements, and got reunited. She has earned name and fame because of her talent and madness to chase her passion despite parental pressure, societal expectations and blows of destiny. Vaishali is now focusing on developing her supply chain and production model in India. At the same time, she is planning to expand her label on the global scale.