I am here to suss out the market in terms of what potential it might hold for our brand,” opens Tina Tahiliani Parikh and more hopeful words have never been uttered because, god knows, Bangalore’s confused fashion space could do with an expert in it midst. And after 25 years of dressing up the have-it-alls, the high and mighty, the nouveau rich, and most importantly, those who know and love fashion, Ensemble can sure claim expertise and credibility.
But because that means looking too much in the future, and a probability too soon to comment on — South Indians are conservative, aren’t they? Tahiliani Parikh enquires — we ask her to rewind all the way back to the beginnings, of her foray into a world different from what her bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in international policy studies had prepared her for.
“Between the two of us, I was the serious business student planning to become a banker while (brother) Tarun (Tahiliani) was the artist, always drawing and making paintings of beautiful women, all of them perfectly done up to the last detail,” reminisces Tahiliani Parikh, adding, “I was working as a banker (at The First Boston Corporation) when Tarun decided he wanted to study fashion, because he thought that, as a designer, it was important to possess technical knowledge of the subject. That is how I ended up taking care of Ensemble.” If there was any plan to go back to banking, its obviously lying on the backburner, because as Tahiliani Parikh says, “Over the course of time, I realised I didn’t want to be doing anything else. Today I love everything about fashion — the clothes, the fabrics, the finishing... I’ve only gone on to know and love the business over the years.”
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT QUALITY
Acknowledged as a key contributor to the continued success of Ensemble, Tahiliani Parikh feels that the brand’s success was always assured. “Even when we started the store in Mumbai (in 1987), we were larger than life. Everything was new, even the décor was different and people were shocked to see the store. But we were clear from the beginning, that we weren’t in the numbers game. It was always about delivering high quality products.” To reiterate the last point, she explains, “Till date, we try each and every piece we order; everything is thought through, because the idea is to give a superlative experience to our customer, in terms of the product, the service, as well as the ambience.” And then, coming back to the purpose of her visit to the city, Tahiliani Parikh notes that the job before the luxury multi-brand retail store decides to move to the city entails, “figuring out what Bangalore wants along with educating the city about fashion.”
LIVE TO TRAVEL
As a woman who has a pulse on trends and the market — “I do give creative inputs,” she admits adding, “You’ve got to design clothes that marry creativity with market viability” — it is but a natural thing that Tahiliani Parikh loves travelling around the world and gets ideas from the various sojourns. “I totally love travelling. I live and breathe for it,” she gushes before admitting that she finds it “interesting to look at cities, the architecture, the patterns and trends that exist, and see, from a sociological point-of-view, what other people do for entertainment.” “I do see what other stores are doing too,” she reveals, but travelling, she says is more than that. “Travel helps you take a step back from what you do every day. It helps you reconnect with your core self.”
Calling it a “by-product” of being in the business, Tahiliani Parikh agrees that she’s more clued in about the subject of fashion today than when she started. “My eyes are trained,” she says before concluding, “I think textile and design were always in my destiny. I just happened to find my career in a bizarre way.”
Some style advice
Fashion is about creating your own identity, but it is also about how comfortable you are. You don’t necessarily have to wear luxury brands to do that. It could just be you wearing a `800 sari with mogra in your hair to make a statement.
Be yourself, then you will look and feel beautiful. Otherwise, it will look like you force-fitted yourself in to a fake armour that doesn’t really represent you.
Also, try to be neat. Take care of the smaller details. Fashion really is about how you put the different elements — the clothes, the shoes, the bag, the jewellery — together to create a look.
Personally, I believe in being low-key. Of course, one’s got to glam up once in a while, but on a regular day, low-key elegance and comfort is my preferred style.