How this woman entrepreneur is bringing plus-size designer wear to Indian women
Gayatri Singh saw the lack of designer clothing for women with different body types. Having designed clothes for herself for 15 years, she decided to bring the joy of designer wear to other women through her brand, Vixxen.
Across the world, women and girls are increasingly becoming part of the body positivity and body acceptance movement. The movement is rooted in the belief that human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging preconceived notions of how society views people based upon their size or body weight.
The society’s perception of presenting physical bodies also led them to dress differently. With the body acceptance movement, thanks to body positivity campaigners, plus-size models, and bloggers, these women are now looking for clothes they want to wear rather than let others dictate what they should wear. With this, the apparel industry too has seen a shift in body positive clothing trends, and many players are entering the industry to cater to a wider audience.
After designing her own clothes for almost 15 years, 42-year-old entrepreneur Gayatri Singh conceptualised plus-size brand Vixxen to make curvy women like herself look more fashionable and be able to own their bodies.
“Having been a curvy girl all my life, it was most challenging to find stylish clothes for my body type,” she says.
Her idea behind the clothing line was fuelled by the lack of designer clothes for plus-sized women. This, coupled with her years of experience designing clothes and the compliments she received for it, led her to see not only a business opportunity, but a need for a fun, bold, and experimental clothing line for this segment.
At present, Vixxen is catering to curvy women and teen-aged girls.
Learning from her experiences
Gayatri comes from a family that is in the business of ‘making films’, which led her to be a part of the burgeoning film industry. She has been a TV producer for 20 years and has worked as executive producer for shows like Sanskruti, Sanjivani, Saarrthi, and more. She also produced Khwaabon Ka Safar with Mahesh Bhatt and Regiment Diaries for the Epic channel. She co-runs a production house with her brother, Vikramjit Singh, who was also the director of Bollywood movie Roy.
Being on the heavier side is a difficult life, especially for young girls, in a world that looks at the weighing scale more than the person. And being a person with a body type that not many see as “normal”, Gayatri says that fat shaming and discrimination has almost become a part of our culture.
“All through my growing years, I have encountered this at every juncture of my life. Whether it was my peers in school, college, family members, and above all at my workplace. Our society and their mental setup are not very kind to differently-sized people,” she adds.
With Vixxen, she is now turning another leaf in her journey, and wants to make a difference that she did not see in the apparel industry - a fashion, premium clothing line for curvy women in India.
Starting up and challenges
The plus size apparel industry is in its infancy in India. There are brands that have expanded their clothing line to include more sizes, while some have come up with dedicated stores. The fashion runways have also become representative, incorporate curvy models and fashion designers, and are more conscious with their designs.
There is a positive trend in the industry as it is recognising the needs of people with varied body types. The plus-size market is estimated to account for $5-6 billion in the $40 billion Indian online fashion apparel market this year, according to Myntra's former vice-president Sivaram Kowta.
Gayatri is another addition to this growing trend that is accepting body-positive clothing. Coming with a background in films, starting up in the apparel industry was no cake walk to her. She admits that the process was difficult, and credits having a great team that helped her build along the way.
For years, she has been creating and shortlisting clothes that will become a part of her brand. Her clothing line is made of premium fabrics sourced from all over the country. The brand, she claims, is not unaffordable, but a premium brand.
“That is purely on the basis of the fabrics we use, the finishing, and also the detailing. For example, we use hand-embroideries as well as expensive raw material for the same,” she says.
Starting up with all her savings, Gayatri is confident that within a few months of the launch, which is expected to be near mid-March, she will be able to get more funding to expand the brand.
With limited capital in hand, she is banking on word of mouth marketing to get to her audience.
Though she is starting Vixxen as an online brand, she plans to hold pop-ups and exhibitions around the country. In the near future, she is also looking to open her first retail store.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)