London Collections: Men – interview with Kaushal Niraula
Kaushal Niraula showcased his autumn/winter 2014 collection at the luxurious Luggage Room situated on the corner of Grosvenor Square. He was kind enough to sit down and chat with us about his collection and the future of bespoke tailoring.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Nepal, but have travelled all around since I was young: Hong Kong, South East Asia, Malaysia and London from a very young age. I actually don’t come from a fashion background; when I started off, I was working in strategy and new markets.
So what brought you into fashion then?
About three years ago I used to do it on the side and went into a joint venture with a bespoke tailoring company, but I wanted to do my own thing. I started doing my own bespoke things with my own twist. I didn’t want to be in control rigidly with the tailoring side of things. I’m not a purist in that sense. I like a bit of pink here and there, and I like my buttons. I can break the rules. One of my biggest ambitions is to bring back the British tailoring and heritage, and the beauty of the mills and English fabrics. That’s what I want to do, which is pretty tough.
Do you think that’s a realistic goal with fast fashion and globalisation dominating our markets?
Tom Ford is doing it. Tom Brown is doing it. But maybe the Americans are a step ahead. Savile Row is a destination store, it’s a lovely street. I’m not saying this in a negative way, but maybe they haven’t evolved with time. I really don’t want to criticise that, because I really love that aspect about them. That’s how I started in bespoke. But I want to give it a bit of a twist and a hint of modernism with the fabrics I choose, the colours I choose and the buttons I choose.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love the Edwardian era sort of feel, because that’s when I think we were at the height of tailoring. Ready-to-wear and mass production wasn’t in place so they were at the pinnacle of tailoring at that time. Every single piece of mine is hand-tailored, hand-cut and tailored in the UK. With the Edwardian era, I have that sort of vision in mind when I’m creating something with my cuts and patterns. I like broad lapels to give that strong masculine feel. I do some slim fit jackets and trousers, but I mostly believe that you should look like a gentleman. A very classic feel, but with a twist.
What’s the design process like for you?
Depends. We can have a mood board in place, but ready-to-wear is much easier than bespoke. With bespoke, you’re speaking with somebody. They’ll say they want a velvet jacket, but they want it to be different. So you spend the time sketching out ideas, sourcing fabrics and even sometimes producing new fabrics. Of course the more involved it gets, the price will rise, but whoever orders bespoke, price is not an issue for them. In everything we do, we try to source from the UK, up in Leeds and Scotland; these are small mills and some of them are dying. I try to keep them going, but I’m only a small player to be able to do it alone. These buttons – they’re actually made in England, and it’s very hard to get things like this. I could easily get my buttons from China or Italy. It’s these little things, where people who appreciate hard work and family businesses. Italians are very good at that, and that’s why they do so well. There is a lot of family business going on and we’ve lost that. We’re much more commercial and it’s very much mass, fast and quick. I just want people to slow down.
If what they say is true, and these sorts of things go in cycles, then surely the days of family-run business is upon us…?
Touch wood, right? With everything we do, from our cashmeres to knitwear, we design it and make it in Nepal. Nepal and Mongolia are the best place to get mountain goats, so we source it from there and it’s very luxurious. It’s all family-run and we keep them going. It keeps us happy because it feels fantastic!
What are some key points to your collection that sets it apart from the others?
Colours and luxury. I am not interested in having a big label with an inferior quality product. I think there must be value in every part of what we do, and our prices are high because the quality is there. I don’t want to sell inferior products at a higher price to the consumers. I want them to feel that it’s good quality and worth it. It has to be worth it. If you wear cashmere, it should feel like cashmere.
Where is your favourite place to travel?
Do you have any muses or people you’d love to see wearing your designs?
My idea of subtlety would fit politicians really well. I want to design for intellectuals. It’s subtle, it’s there, and they will be the ones who would appreciate it, like having a fine glass of cognac. They’re the ones who would appreciate the taste and the feel to it. I would love to dress Barack Obama as well as David Beckham. Someone who appreciates art and who appreciates localisation with an international theme.
Do you think you’ll ever work in womenswear?
Yes, probably in three more seasons. But I need to understand how to do it. Tailoring is hard and very competitive in womenswear. At this stage, it’s all a blank canvas. We’ve tried a few things but I will have to let you know in the future what we plan to do. It will be very luxurious.
Thanks again for your time Kaushal. We look forward to speaking with you soon!
Visit Kaushal Niraula’s website here.