Having ardently helmed the baton for South Asian representation in the fashion industry overseas, Rahi Chadda’s rising arc is one for the books. Post a surprising pivot from studying law and international relations at the crème de la crème universities of the UK, Chadda then embraced a life in front of the camera, and the rest is history. We caught up with the model to discuss all things fashion, his future aspirations and then some more.
On quizzing him about his favourite fashion capital, although mildly conflicted, he decides to go with New York City. Drawing parallels between an oyster and the Big Apple, he points out, “There aren’t any fashion rules, you can just turn up, explain why and what you’re wearing, and a crowd will shout purr.” He also gushes about his newest fashion obsession – Uorfi Javed, a social media sensation quickly climbing the ranks owing to her avant-garde sartorial explorations rooted in DIY culture. “I am obsessed with her denim-on-denim look, a very creative interpretation of current trends.”
When the conversation turns to culture and community, he swiftly points out how the South Asian diaspora has collectively cemented their worth in the business. He explains, “Actors like Riz Ahmed became one of the first South Asian men to be nominated as Best Actor for the Academy Awards. He is just talented, and the way he can interpret his characters, it’s just great to see increasing diversity in entertainment. In fashion, leaders like Jamie Gill have championed the importance of diversity and mentorship to achieve inclusivity and authenticity within the fashion space and community.”
Inevitably, grooming comes into the picture when discussing showbiz. Rahi expresses his gratitude about how indulging in the same wasn’t frowned upon growing up. What’s refreshing is his disapproval of calling the same an indulgence. He prefers the term necessity. “I have been very fortunate with my family being open and progressive in their ideas. I guess that many stipulate skincare as being cosmetics on a wider scale, which may seem frivolous. However, I don’t view washing your face or managing your eye-bags as an indulgence, as a man or woman. It’s not ‘camp’ to use a cleanser and moisturiser.”
When asked about the topic of international brands representing varied cultures & ethnic groups holistically, he fiercely amplifies the conversation by adding, “Sometimes, working in the fashion industry, I do have a sense that your ethnic group matters. Any opportunity to show my face in a partnership is my chance to show my own community that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that we are being noticed.” Showing up matters, and he thankfully cognises the gravity of the situation.
There is also a vulnerable side to the fashion icon – one where he is supremely candid and confides in us, saying, “As a cis-gendered man myself, I can say that I have accepted myself for my body insecurities and I don’t intend on hiding anything. My advice to other men who haven’t come to the same conclusion as me—using bravado doesn’t mean you are un-bothered about your insecurities; you’re simply hiding them. Take the façade off, confide in yourself or someone close to you and come to terms with every atom of who you are.” Dear men, take notes.
Having featured in the much-revered Forbes 30 Under 30 list, it’s but natural to wonder what the model’s future plans might look like. He reminisces and shares, “I learnt from a good and loyal friend of mine that our lives are fickle. I could be doing something that you and I wouldn’t imagine today in the next six months! In the coming years, I hope to evolve my platform to discuss issues that matter to me and get into more entertainment. You will just have to find out.” And so we shall, intently.
Serving as a breath of fresh air, this exchange with Chadda offers ample insight into his zeal to excel whilst honouring his roots. One can’t help but come to the realisation that there’s something about him—right from the word go.