Manish Malhotra On Bridal Trends, NFTs And How His Brand Survived The Pandemic

All you need to do is work with all heart, says the ace couturier in a candid interview.

Published On Nov 29, 2022 | Updated On Mar 07, 2024


Top Indian couturier Manish Malhotra has had a busy year. Never one to be left behind, Malhotra too entered the NFT fashion world this year, he completed a year of his partnership with Reliance, he has a makeup line (Manish Malhotra Beauty by MyGlamm), and he also launched a bridge-to-luxury label for the ever-changing audience. After focusing on the good and powering through the pandemic, Malhotra is now raring to go full throttle in 2023. The designer discusses what’s on his mind, trends and colours that are exciting him this season and what it takes for a fashion brand to survive.

Edited excerpts:

Diffuse is my bridge line, it’s an entirely new segment that caters to the youth and an already existing audience which we desire to bring under our fold. So far, the response has been generously amazing to the campaign, style, affordability, and the segment overall. 

I work from my heart—I am very committed to my job and it never tires me. My greatest virtue is that I mind my business and am incredibly passionate about what I do. I've only focused on my journey, which has helped me to cut through the confusion and stay relevant over the years. If I could work 48 hours a day, I genuinely would.

Due to the digitization of fashion with our in-house couture films in 2020, the brand took several steps to expand into the tech space. The pandemic acted as a catalyst for exploring existing digital avenues like blockchain technology, metaverse, NFT, augmented reality, customization features, virtual stores, consultations, and more. They were just mere buzzwords that have now turned into digital assets. The past years have ushered in dramatic changes to how consumers interact with the online luxury world. We're striving toward tapping these markets with due diligence, research, and experimental methods. Not just digital, we're expanding our inter and intra-national horizons by introducing new segments, venturing into new business avenues, devising administration, and branching out to a more novel audience.  

My brand and I have always believed in constantly evolving with times. So naturally, therefore, our audience is changing. The youth always intrigues, inspires and stimulates me with their ever-changing trends and mindsets.

I wanted to make my brand genuinely global and diversified, charter a new growth dimension for Indian luxury while creating opportunities. Collaboration was necessary to achieve this. I was getting several offers from all over, but with Reliance, I felt complete faith and alignment. The brand is growing. We're bringing additional changes and innovations to the platter. With beauty, jewellery, virtual store, and NFT already on the horizon, I plan on taking these ventures to newer heights.

Indian couture labels truly showcase the authentic crafts of the country. Hence the idea of authenticity, and integrity is what we promote and provide. The idea of corporate association is to take the Indian craft and make it global through corporate backing, so it’s globally understood and globally accessible, and desired.

NFTs or non-fungible tokens have become the new unicorn of the fashion world. Apart from its initial complexities, blockchain is an ecosystem to drive creators to incorporate NFTs into their business strategy and open avenues to reach a broader audience base. In the past, markets struggled with attracting the most exquisite buyers and collectors. NFTs could change the rules of this luxury game forever as they are meant to be timeless. Our first drop in association with FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week was a tremendous success, courtesy of WazirX’s smooth and structured technical procedure.  It's just a matter of time and patience, for people to adapt to this technology.  

The artisanal techniques of fabrics, and intricacy, were a major focus for sure, which is significant to promote Indian art. Some fun prints and textures were highlighted very well through fabric manipulation by the upcoming designers. And I cannot stress enough the technology and sustainability factors that were major signifiers of this season.

The concept of beauty in India is growing and so is the beauty business. It's not just pertained to young or old, and neither it is just confined to a specific gender. Beauty has become a priority which is pushing the Indian cosmetic market to greater heights. I started as a costume stylist and with costume comes styling, make-up, accessories, and the whole look that gives the much-needed depth to the character. Beauty in India is commercialized and marketed for its real purpose now, for people to express their individuality, personality and attitude. It's not only given that personal freedom for self-expression but has created multiple opportunities for makeup artists, retailers and vendors to go global. Trends come and go, but what beauty has done is beyond something that is a fad. It's broken down barriers of representation.

My current muse is all the artists on social media who constantly post about facts, trends and techniques regarding makeup, skincare, or anything related to beauty. Their grit has unearthed information that the beauty industry needs to explore and innovate with.

For expressive individuals, lots of bright colours, geometrical patterns and metallics on classic silhouettes. For people who walk on the subtle side, you can go in for intricate hand-embroidered thread work on neutral bases. Shararas, timeless sarees, and prints on classic outfits are also good options. There's so much to experiment with. Blouses can have contemporary cuts. Like we introduced the Infinity blouse last year, a crossover with a curved inverted front. For the guys, they can try short kurtas, slim pants, or some stylish open bandhgalas with kurtas. There's so much to experiment with. You could try your mother’s or friend’s old saree or sharara, and drape and mix and match with contemporary tops to your delight.

There may be a consumption cut down in terms of maximalist events. People are opting for intimate soirées, and we are still part of their celebrations, be it small-scale or large-scale. You can be sure of seeing a lot of colours apart from the heirloom reds. Although they’re our favourite, the crimsons will have a lot of variations to them. Trailing lehengas, veils and asymmetrical silhouettes will also be seen. Brides want more meaningful and intimate soirées, so they go for versatile attire.

Photo: Facebook and Instagram/Manish Malhotra