Our series ‘Young and Inspiring’ features young professionals who have successfully carved a niche for themselves in the wedding industry with their unique offerings. Here, Fashion Designer Shubhika Davda, founder of ‘Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika’ shares her fashion design journey with WeddingSutra, as well as her views on dressing up modern Indian brides, Indo-Western aesthetics, and lots more.
How you made a foray into the world of fashion after journalism?
“Honestly, I was an average student at the school but was always crazily curious and creatively inclined. As I grew up, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to dedicate four full years in a fashion design school, so I pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media Studies as I was good at writing, and the media industry was booming. After working as a stringer for the DNA newspaper, I had a modest amount of savings stashed up and approached my father with a business plan. Being a successful and iron-hearted entrepreneur himself, my father saw merit in investing in my business over spending a silly sum on summer school.
With a team of one ‘masterji’ (master tailor) and two other tailors, I opened a small boutique named Firefly in Vashi. But it was short-lived as I quickly realized that not only was the competition immense but that my competitors were also very talented and trained. Soon, I gave my best friend the responsibility to look after my shop for a year and I went to the London College of Fashion to study fashion design and entrepreneurship which was one of the best decisions of my life.
In London, I learned the best of street style and shopping and even got a chance to intern with Patricia Gomez of Gomez-Gracia, a New York Fashion Week designer. In 2009, I came back to launch ‘Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika‘ combining my three loves – music, drama and papa (dad), but couldn’t keep up with executing fresh resort/high street collections every two weeks. Master designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee advised me to introduce Indian wear into my collection and honestly, I haven’t looked back ever since! Armed with great advice to fuel my burgeoning dreams of starting a full-fledged high street label, I launched my Indian bridal line, resort wear collection and accessories range in Mumbai.”
What is the story behind your brand’s unique name?
“’Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika’ resonates with my personality, my environment and the way I analyze concepts and articulate them through a medium of rebellion. Also, my papa who is my hero loved it and thought it would resonate with my target audience.”
What are the current bridal wear trends that you love?
“I love high-waist lehengas as I think they flatter Indian bodies very well. I also love the use of velvet and net combined in one ensemble as they give a royal yet flirtatious vibe at the same time.”
What does ‘Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika’ wedding ensemble convey?
“My brand conveys fun! Plus, the creations are all memorable and not run of the mill. When you wear a ‘Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika” creation, you not only look like the ‘belle of the ball’ but also have fun with it.”
How have buying patterns and aesthetics of customers changed over the past five years?
“Brides have become lot more conscious and aware of fabrics and the quality of workmanship. Most are very clear about what they want and why they choose a particular designer for their wedding functions. I think social media has helped them a great deal. They now have access to not only Bollywood celebrities and the trends they sport but also bloggers/social media celebrities and websites that help them curate all the necessary information.”
Your biggest inspiration?
“Always and forever – music!”
What is your design aesthetic primarily based on?
“Very honestly, it is based on what I would like to wear and what would really excite me if I were to see it hanging on a rack! It is also the surprise elements and details that I pack into every garment.”
What are some of the big challenges you’ve faced as a young bridal wear designer so far?
“Making a bridal wear collection season after season is a big investment. It is always challenging to get the workmanship up to the level you would like it to be at on a tight budget so that your buyers are satisfied.”
What are some of the most interesting/quirky/memorable wedding ensembles you have designed?
“Every bride that comes to our store is looking for a ‘wow’ design for her big day. Every bridal outfit for us has been special because we allow customization and always try to include brides’ suggestions into crafting their sartorial dreams into reality.”
Do you have any tips for young and aspiring bridal wear fashion designers?
“Bridal collections are expensive to put together, yet at the same time, it is Indian wear that really sells well in the country. Fortunately, girls these days have become more experimental and are happy to try new comfortable styles over heavily embellished ones. Instead of making that one beautiful heavy lehenga, try to put together lighter, experimental pieces that girls can pick up for smaller functions. In the first couple of years, One must participate in exhibitions as it makes more business sense instead of investing a large sum of money in setting up standalone boutiques in the first couple of years.”
Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika
Ground Floor, Inside Sun Mill Compound (Opposite Phoenix Mills)
Lower Parel (West)
Landmark: Next to True School of Music (TSM)Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Phone: 022 2493 0001