Fresh fashion label to know: Diksha Khanna
The Mumbai-based label’s unconventional approach to denim makes it one to watch
ELLE: How did you come to love fashion?
Diksha Khanna: I was fascinated with textiles from a very young age. I spent countless hours in my uncle’s stockrooms (he ran a textile business with my grandfather in Almora, Uttarakhand) all through my childhood, and was permanently mesmerised. I knew right from then that I wanted to work in fashion.
ELLE: How did you know you were ready to start your own label?
DK: After studying fashion design at National Institute Of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, I pursued my Master’s in Design at the University Of Leeds, UK. While I was there, I worked with [British luxury brand] Bunmi Koko for a while before coming to India and working with Wendell Rodricks for a year. He’s been my greatest mentor; I learnt everything from him, and then I knew I was ready and debuted this season at Amazon India Fashion Week.
ELLE: We see a lot of denim in your garments. What draws you to it?
DK: My collection is called The Urban Utopia, because we live in this concrete jungle, but that green patch still exists, however small it may be. I chose to display this through delicate needlepoint embroidery on hand loom linens teamed with distressed scrap denim. The denim, which has been sourced from the scrap piles of garment factories, lends itself perfectly to the rugged rawness.
ELLE: Your embroidered buttons are really eye-catching.
DK: Our “love buttons”, as we like to call them, are all hand-embroidered with flora and fauna motifs. We took inspiration from cacti, daisies, trellises and hummingbirds. The idea was to send a message of spreading love, [building] a greener planet, a heaven on earth, which we all dream of living in.
ELLE: Tell us about your distressed denim sari—it has created waves in the industry.
DK: The sari always brings you back home and is extremely close to my heart, so there had to be a sari in the collection. A denim sari felt like a great way to form that connect with our gen-next audience, who love this silhouette but are afraid of embracing it due to the manageability factor. I eliminated the trouble by making it pre-stitched while keeping the pallu free (unpleated) to leave its fluidity intact.
ELLE: What would you say makes your label unique?
DK: We produce on a small scale to minimise wastage. We directly source our textiles from weavers, without any middlemen, to support local artisans and communities. And as I mentioned, our denim, too, is scrap fabric sourced directly from the factories and is fully hand distressed.
Photographs: Elton Pinto (Diksha Khanna), Rajesh Kashyap (Runway) and Anirudh Agarwal