Contemporary Indian Fashion with Canadian Designer Mani Jassal

By Puneet Saggar .

Mani Jassal is currently one of the leading names behind the rising trend of Indian fashion in Canada. Influenced by the likes of Sabyasachi, Tarun Tahiliani and Manish Malhotra, Mani Jassal has recreated the traditional connotations long associated with Indian Fashion. She is well known for her unique and distinctive style, adding an edgy yet modern touch to all her designs.

We love her unconventional and individualistic style, and think it makes the perfect on trend option for your bridal party, best friend’s wedding or pre-wedding shoot. We recently had the pleasure of connecting with Mani, where we obtained some key insights into the design world, the creative process involved and Mani’s journey thus far.

Background

How was Mani Jassal, the brand, initiated?

Mani: Having my own label was a big dream of mine since I was very young. I began sketching and designing dresses from the age of 12, and always knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer. Thus, after completing High School I decided to apply for a Fashion Design course and was so ecstatic when I got accepted into Ryerson University. If I hadn’t gotten into this program, then I would have gone on to do Chemical or Aerospace Engineering (yup, I loved math and science too!).

While fashion school provided me with great insights and in-depth technical knowledge, I was still very confused about what path to pursue after graduation. To be honest, the only time I had been exposed to Indian fashion was through Bollywood, and at the time I wasn’t too impressed by it.

It wasn’t until my final year that I actually picked up a copy of Vogue India and saw some magnificent craftsmanship and designs by Sabyasachi and the like. I was completely in awe of Indian fashion from that point on. This solely inspired me to create my final thesis collection on non-traditional South Asian Bridal wear, where I tried to incorporate unconventional colours such as black and white along with distinctive fabrics such as laser cut leather.

I didn’t really expect too much from this collection but the positive feedback really influenced me to further pursue this avenue and create my own label.

What inspires your designs?

Mani: I think Music is probably one of my biggest inspirations. I am a huge fan of rap music, and I think people are slowly starting to see this “edginess” in my designs, marketing and overall brand. I love the juxtaposition of the two opposites coming together.

The Design Process

Who makes your outfits and how long does one outfit take?

Mani: All outfits are produced in Canada by my team and I. I usually ask for 4-6 weeks to create an outfit, but for all orders that require shipping (i.e. not local) the process can take anywhere between 6-8 weeks.

How do you engage with your international clients?

Mani:  All clients are required to submit an initial inquiry detailing their requirements, after which a Virtual Design Consultation is set up – international clients can either Skype, Facetime or Whatsapp call me to further discuss their order.

I use these consultations to better learn the client’s requirements in terms of the outfit design, budget and delivery time. After this process, I prepare a moodboard where I sketch various illustrations of the outfit and attach the relevant fabric swatches and colours. This helps my clients better visualise the final design, and provides me with broad guidance throughout the design process.

Do you offer customisation, where clients can bring inspiration to create a brand new outfit?

Mani: I offer all my clients the option of customising the designs that I already have. However, I understand that brides usually want to create something unique for their big day. Thus, I do ask them to bring inspiration images so that we can sit down during the design consultation to come up with something exclusive, yet true to their vision and true to my aesthetic as a designer.

I would never, however, take an image of another designers work and attempt to replicate it. That is not fair.

The Journey So Far

You have recently completed a fashion show for the “Udiapur Tea Party” collection; please tell us how this initiative came to life?

Mani: The idea of this collection came to me last year when I visited Udaipur. I just felt so stimulated by the city that I knew I had to create a collection inspired by it. The sketching process started soon after I returned and production of the pieces began in April 2015.

When I slowly saw this collection coming to life, I knew that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. A fashion show just happened to be the most relevant medium at the time. I wanted to create an ambience where the venue and decor allowed my guests to feel as though they had just been transported into a tea party in Udaipur.

I was fortunate to have had an amazing event planning company, “Chic Events by Sonia” helping me plan this entire event. The entire show ran as I had imagined because of Sonia and her amazing team.

Becoming a fashion designer is no easy feat, what has been your biggest hurdle to date?

Mani: I have come so far from where I was 2 years ago, and am thankful for the amazing support that I get from my parents. I could not have done this without them. The industry is very hard, and it requires a lot of hard work, perseverance, and strong determination to succeed.

I think the biggest hurdle would be not giving up. There have been so many moments where I have felt like doing exactly that, because in my eyes I am still not where I want to be, but having my family and friends constantly encouraging me to keep pushing further and further has helped me a lot.

Also, whilst being in the industry, I have networked with quite a few industry professionals, and it’s always so reassuring when someone who you didn’t think you were close with, believes in you, and believes in the dream. I think that’s the biggest thing that keeps me going, seeing others believe in my dream.

Looking Ahead

What is the long term vision for the brand? Where do you see it in the next 3 to 5 years?

Mani: The long term vision is to continue pushing the brand out into more markets. I have a showroom in LA that I will be housing my collection at, which should open up quite a few doors for me. I would love to eventually have my own store front in major cities in the world, and become a brand that offers different lines.

Tips for our Brides

Finally, for all the brides out there, what are your top 3 tips for the big day – especially in terms of bridal fashion?

Mani:

1. Get inspired. Do research into what you would want for your big day and create a moodboard of some sort (Pinterest is great for this) with all of the images that inspire you.

2. When you are going in for a design consultation with a designer/boutique go by yourself or with a one friend first. Sometimes, I find brides are overwhelmed when they bring in too many friends and family members for the initial consultation. Too many opinions get thrown at them, and they begin to lose their vision of their big day. Designers and boutiques like to meet one on one to understand what your needs are. The second or third time that you come in, bring your friends and family to show them what you have come up with.

3. Stay true to who you are. Just remember it’s your big day, and you should feel 100% satisfied with your final look. Pick something that makes your comfortable and confident at the same time!

All images courtesy of Suman Uppal.

About The Author

Puneet Saggar

Contributor at The Crimson Bride.