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Young Talents Celebrating the West is Like Italians Doing Sarees, Won’t Work: JJ Valaya

Three decades and counting, JJ Valaya’s glorious journey in fashion has always been about celebrating India in couture. The Czar of Indian Couture, who is all set to launch ‘World of Valaya’ this year, a cohesive space in Delhi featuring couture, home lines, fine jewellery, and photography, speaks to News18 about what 2022 will look like for the Indian fashion industry.

Celebrating Indian Couture

As the founding member of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), Valaya’s fashion forecast for the industry is about being buoyant. “Couture in 2022 will be much more buoyant than it ever was because the one thing that the pandemic has taught mankind is that we need to appreciate and celebrate more and the moment to celebrate is the one that exists which is the present moment,” expresses Valaya, adding, “So, I think once we are rid of the pandemic, and for sure we are going to get rid of it now, everybody will only want to live their lives to the fullest and celebrate more. And couture is a perfect benchmark of celebrations in India because it is indirectly and directly linked with occasions, weddings, ceremonies, celebrations. So, I think we are going to see an extremely buoyant couture environment this year.”

Of Indian crafts and craftsmen

JJ Valaya has always wished that we should never take shortcuts with perhaps one of the greatest gifts we Indians have been blessed with and that is of hand craftsmanship. “The fact that we have skilled craftsmen and a historical sort of treasure house in terms of inspiration it is really the duty of modern age designers to explore these facets – be it the craftsmen, be it the weavers, be it our various dyeing and printing techniques, be it our culture and civilization – and present it in a very new modern relevant way,” expresses Valaya, adding, “So I hope in terms of craft every designer who is into embroideries pushes themselves to do better, more beautiful work without letting go of the past but still being extremely relevant to the present.”

JJ Valaya who has full faith in the young talent of India

The Secret Success of Indian designers

JJ Valaya who has full faith in the young talent of India, has a simple advice though. He says:

  1. Believe in yourself: You must believe in yourself come what may. Do not look left or right and try to emulate others, it does not work. You have a core skill which is unique to you, excel in that, keep going on that path and you will shine.
  2. Celebrate your country: A lot of young talent celebrate the West instead of celebrating India. We couldn’t be further away from the truth and core of India. So, it is very important. It is almost like the Italian doing saris or the Americans or French doing lehengas, it just doesn’t work. We have to explore what we already have and innovate within those confines and that will create a unique signature and you will shine.

So, stick to your path, believe in yourself, and celebrate your country and the rest will follow. “If you perceive excellence success is a given,” expresses Valaya.

Embracing Slow Fashion

According to JJ Valaya the pandemic has pretty much brought a change in fashion in 2022. “Earlier, the fashion industry was in a mad rush. It was a rat race which nobody was winning. It was all about we have to do it now, do it more because we need to catch up with the others. And the pandemic has just slowed down everything. When things slow down better work emerges, better quality emerges, sustainability emerges. And couture by virtue of its very nature is a sustainable craft. Slowing down of fashion was much required and it is happening now. So be prepared to see fantastic ideas in great quality,” adds Valaya.

Are Trends Cancelled?

Though JJ Valaya is not a massive believer of trends, he appreciates them. “I think they [trends] keep the energy buzzing in fashion but to blindly follow them is also almost naïve. So, I think with a generation now which is so well travelled especially in the palms of their hand and know just about everything that is happening across the world for them we as designers just simply need to keep the past relevant to the present and that’s where the secrets success of Indian designers lie,” says JJ Valaya.

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