Over the course of his distinguished 30-plusyear career, JJ Valaya has managed to stick to a distinctly Indian look and a signature maximalist couture approach despite shifting cultural contexts and evolving consumer tastes. The legendary couturier spoke to us about what inspires him.
ELLE: How do you strike a balance between being distinctive and marketable?
JJ Valaya (JJV): Being both creative and commercial is a perpetual balancing act, but one doesn’t truly endure without the other. It’s an organic approach that comes directly from the creative director and isn’t rehearsed in any way.
ELLE: What has continued to inspire you throughout your journey as a creative person?
JJV: I began my career in fashion when I was 22 years old, and at 55, I still find it just as important—if not more—to be passionate about creating and putting out something exciting. I’m really grateful to the Almighty for keeping me motivated. I think a brand is in good hands as long as the original founder is able to maintain excitement surrounding the brand and is creatively contributing to it.
ELLE: Has your definition of success changed over the years?
JJV: My definition of success is being able to raise a generation of consumers who will identify with the brand for the decades to come. We’ve made some progress with this, although little. It is a surreal experience for us as designers to create a multigenerational appeal when daughters or sons of our clientele from over three decades ago come to us to have their mother’s clothes adjusted to their size. Any house that can appeal to several generations has got it right.
ELLE: What can we expect from the World of Valaya over the coming years?
Customers are always evolving. If we compare the bride and groom of today to those from the ‘90s, the genre has completely changed. Since luxury is meant to be timeless and it must endure, maintaining your identity while evolving is a challenge. In contrast to fast fashion, customers want their investments in luxury to last. The World of Valaya has accepted the changing definition of luxury while retaining a touch of modernity.
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