Unconventional and Unparalleled, Chola- The Label
Sohaya’s sartorial choices have found a home labeled ‘Chola’. She has successfully managed to earn the tag of being an unconventional designer in the fashion industry. Her clothes carved a niche in the society. It’s for everyone irrespective of age, shape, size and gender. Here, she verbalizes her journey.
The Brand ‘Chola- The Label’
I started the brand about 4 years ago. I started with a little experiment. I did not have any background in fashion education but I was styling from many years. So the brand came from that experience. I picked a lot of beautiful fabric- linen fabric and made some samples and then showcased them in a little pop up show in Bombay. They completely sold out. I think the clothes filled a niche which was not there in the industry. The clothes can be reconstructed, were over-sized but at the same time they were edgy. My whole concept was to have street style clothes and that fit every body type. I believe that gets clicked. We also did a photo shoot and Lakme fashion show saw the pictures and called me to be part of their next show. We did our first fashion show and ‘Chola’ has taken a life of its own since then.
Journey and growth…
It’s pretty much been an organic growth. I started with a little experiment and then we did Lakme fashion week and everything was instant. Within that year, people and the whole fashion fraternity appreciated what we were doing. It was like giving an exposure to them. Suddenly, everybody knew who we were and what we were doing. And when you get such a positive response, the growth is a little quicker. That is what happened since then. It was an upward kind of curve. We have won the Grazia award for fresh new label and we do once or twice Lakme fashion week a year. It is not been a huge trajectory but a slow growth. But there is definitely been a growth.
Inspiration behind the unconventional clothes…
When I started the collection, I did not have thirty sketches in my head. My information came from where my collection began and that was my fabric. I don’t embellish my fabrics. I do use prints but very slightly. The main hero of my garment is fabric; the main fall of it, the texture of it and the personality of it.
Words to describe ‘Chola’
Easy, Edgy, Fluid
Don’t follow trends
Actually, I am not really the one to follow trends. I think in terms of fashion there are trends that come in shapes, in colors and cuts. But I don’t think I govern them when I am working on my collection. So, I don’t really have authority to talk about trends and I believe people should make their own, what they are comfortable with and what excites them. That automatically becomes a trend.
Favourite historical era
My favourite historical era has to be the Victorian era. I love all the frills, the fancy, the big wigs, big dresses and skirts. There is so much drama in it. I also love the Vintage Indian fashion where they wore the saris in most sophisticated, glorious ways, always have their hair tide up and big sunglasses. I think it was amazing.
The idea behind anti fit terrain clothes
I like a person of any age, any size and any gender to be able to walk up to my studio and find something that works for them; something they love and something they feel beautiful in. That has always been my inspiration for anti- fit clothes and people shouldn’t feel they have to go and customize things according to their body type. You will always find something you will love on my rack.
Failures as learnings…
Of course, I believe you learn from your failures. If you don’t have failures how will you learn. First I had no fashion background, and then I had no professional learning in cutting and pattern making. So, it comes all pretty much from my head. I sit with my tailors and free cut a lot of my clothes. We sit on board and see how we can make it work. And finally you see the garment and see how it works, the joy boundless. Failures make success feel much better.
My style mantra
Edgy, easy, comfortable and always wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you. Less is always more.
Journey from a stylist to a designer
I think what helped me with styling is I got to work with all kinds of people; with all kinds of body types and mindsets. That kind of made me fluid and easy. That made me learn not everybody fits in all kinds of garments. Everybody needs a little bit of pricking here and there, so that they always have something to carry off. Styling has taught me the integrity of designing. So I love them both.
“I mean yes, whether you like it or not you are always changing and evolving. And we do follow our brand’s DNA and focus on sustainable designing in its ethos. Every collection is an evolution of a previous one. And what I like is that when people see my clothes, they always recognize what I have done. So, I love the fact that we are evolving but at the same time we are holding on to our basics.
Must have item in a wardrobe
An interesting white shirt
One treasured item in closet
I have infinity towards boots. I love my boots. I have couple of pairs which happens to be the most treasured item.
The best-dressed people globally
I like Victoria Beckham. I like the fact that she wears minimal, edgy, fashion forward kind of style. Maharani Gayatri Devi is my style icon. She makes me love all the vintage eras. Madonna, I believe she is always evolving, changing and reinventing herself. She is unapologetic. She does not wear clothes to make people happy. She just wears for herself.
The most defining moment of your career
My first fashion show. It was just a matter of 10 minutes and months of hard work. It’s like baring your soul to other people to judge you. Like what is she showing us? It’s a lot of pressure; it’s been exhilarating and thrilling. I love doing my shows.
One person you still dream of designing for
I am designing for my people; I say them my ‘Chola’ tribal. And they are the only people I love designing for.
Future plans for ‘Chola’
There never have been any plans and there never will be. It has taken a life of its own and I am just keeping up with it.