Fashion Designer Preetham Jukalker is one of this season’s most talked-about names, and one of Hyderabad’s brightest designers. Anu Upadhayula gets talking to him.
This Mumbai based 29 year old, self-confessed handloom lover, kickstarted his career by designing bridal silhouettes and red carpet trousseau. When asked about how he thought of entering the textile industry, he reminisces, “I happened to watch a documentary entitled, ‘The True Cost’, which offers an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people behind our clothes. It altered my design philosophy, and I decided to shift my fashion line into a sustainable one”. It was since then that his tryst with dying Indian textiles started. He now sees fashion as a means of bridging cultures, as proved by his bold, ethnic-inspired designs.
“As a kid, I loved watching my mother sit on her sewing machine, making shirts for me. While she was away, I would take over the machine and would stitch some baby clothes”, he recalls. He used to binge read fashion magazines and watch celebrities talk fashion. “I used to have a collage made of all the fashionable stuff I saw, which triggered me to do a degree in Fashion and textiles”, he smiles.
Swearing by sustainability, and being an avid admirer of Indo-western creations, he unveiled a new line of customised contemporary clothing called, ‘All about Ishq’, which features age old sarees with a quirky twist. “I offer sarees paired with cropped shirts and a bow belt. The bow belts and cropped shirts can be worn with skirts, denims and palazzos”, says the loom lover.
His range of ‘Ikat pocket sarees’ gained much popularity among the who’s who of the city for their design and price range. This ensemble shouts boho chic and undoubtedly became one of the favourites and fast selling among his clients. “One day, I was just experimenting with some left over fabrics, and added a pocket to the saree and draped it on a mannequin and it looked smart. This was just before an expo in Bengaluru, and it sold instantly”, he tells with pride.
He has A-listers from Telugu film industry flaunting his label – like Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who effortlessly carries off his creations with oomph to many of her social gatherings. Rashi Khanna, Rakul Preet and Lakshmi Manchu are often spotted in his custom-made pocket ikat sarees at various occasions.
With a chic and unorthodox style, he believes in free flow of fabrics and dismisses body hug fashion with elan. “My range is all about comfortable silhouettes and size inclusive. I have a standard size 40, which fits women of several body types,” he says.
Handmade with love
He swears by long dresses, shirts, gowns, preferably layered styling, handcrafted and hand dyed using organic and vegetable dyes. “I’m doing my bit to revive the dying art and the artisans, and try to share the knowledge with my customers through my creations.”
The handloom scene in India right now?
Everybody is decently equipped with knowledge on handlooms, and right now every designer is concentrating on weaves.
One fashion-stereotype that annoys you the most?
Over dressed to a club
Based out of Mumbai, what do you think about fashion in South India?
South is improving; I can see a lot happening, so South is definitely getting there.
A piece of clothing everyone should own?
A nice handloom jacket
Which Bollywood actor/actress you’d love to design/style?
It’s not about Bollywood or Tollywood, but I’d love to dress up Rihanna and Lady Gaga in handloom as we never saw them wearing all of this.
Currently working on/associated with?
Working on a project, ‘TWEAVE’, in collaboration with the Telangana government to revive the dying art of the state. Also, my upcoming collection involves ‘Narayanpet and Mangalgiri’ weaves, with a bit of embellishments here and there.
Instagram credits: Official handle of Preetham Jukalker