Like many designers, Tandon attended NYC’s FIT. She then kicked off her career working for Escada and Christian Lacroix, before stepping out to help launch West Elm, and finally branching off to create her signature Posh Pari Couture line in 2006.
With Posh Pari Couture, Tandon set her focus on outfitting her ideal client: Modern, versatile and affluent South Asian women. Two years later, she then branched out to wider audiences by starting up T.Tandon, an environmentally-conscious line. T. Tandon focused on dressing up the cosmopolitan woman. After creating buzz at New York Fashion Week, Tandon’s designs were becoming stocked across chic boutiques across the country, from Kitson in Beverly Hills to Montmartre on Madison Avenue in New York to Mark Shale in Chicago.
The Aerogram recently caught up with Tandon to learn about her Fall 2014 collection, which trend she finds utterly unattractive, and how she truly feels about knockoffs.
How do you and your team decide what’s going to be trending a season ahead?My job is to think of what women want before they know it.My job is to think of what women want before they know it.There are actually trend forecasting services used in the industry from which many creations stem in addition to my own personal instinct. Of course, magazines then spotlight the designs or a celebrity is spotted with them on and that’s how a trend is born.
Who is the Fall 2014 woman based on your collection?
I am my own woman for my collections: Feminine, fashionable, and fun. The only thing that changes every season are silhouette, themes, colors and fabrics, the woman I design for remains the same. I design contemporary apparel for the professional, everyday fashionable woman who not only gets thrilled by having novelty in her closet but things that are limited edition.
Honestly, women like what other women can’t have.
I’ve noticed there’s a bit more earthy elegance to the Fall 2014 collection. What inspired you to go this route?
I’m always inspired by nature, my travels, American vintage, the now and the future. My design process starts with the fabric, much like Coco Chanel. I first search the fabric markets and mills, and see what is speaking to me, and then a collection morphs from that keeping in mind all the elements — the trends forecasted, what is appealing to me and grabbing my attention at the moment, and always keeping the female body and what women want in mind before they know it.
Posh Pari Couture started in 2006 as a hobby. Why did you want to target mainstream America with your T.Tandon collection?
It was a natural progression, really. Posh Pari is a luxury cosmopolitan chic line catered to affluent South Asian women of today. But a lot of non-Indians approached me after seeing my work and wanted me to create something for them — something unique in fine taste and not available everywhere. I launched T.Tandon in 2008, and the rest is history.
How does working within tight restrictions like time, money, and talent force you to be more creative?
Necessity is the mother of invention. You have to learn to work with what you have and do the best with it.
You’ve dressed high-profile figures like Padma Lakshmi and Soha Ali Khan. How do these opportunities come about?
Networking is key to get anywhere in this industry because it’s all about who you know. A lot of my high profile clients gravitate towards me and have the same wavelength as me so it’s not difficult to provide the best for them.
How do you dissect each client’s personality to pinpoint exactly what will make them look good yet allow them to exude the same message with your attire?
I look at their bodies and lifestyle and taste and offer them options that make them feel good. In the end it’s a personal choice.
What do you think is the biggest challenge when venturing into the fashion industry?
For me, it was processing how everything works and figuring out how to market myself. Everything from how you get buyers to shipping production to getting your work out to the press. It’s overwhelming but you grow as you go.
Fashion is an integral part of nearly every country’s culture. How would you like to see it evolve?
I’m actually very interested in seeing the revolution of fabrics being more than fabrics. Everything from skin-softening fabrics to anti-aging clothing…the market for well-being attire is huge!
Are there any fashion trends that you dislike? Past or current.
Bootleg jeans! I don’t care what anyone says, they’re unflattering on everybody!
Do you have a favorite celebrity’s style that you absolutely adore?
Cate Blanchett has a unique style. Lupita Nyong’o always looks elegant. Of course, Angelina Jolie is fashionably fluid and looks radiant in anything she wears.
What are your thoughts on designer knock-offs/replicas? Is it a compliment to the original designer?
It’s unfortunate that this issue exists. But you have to remember that you pay for quality. You can’t get mad if you purchase a replica from Forever 21 and the craftsmanship doesn’t live up to your standards.
What advice do you have for aspiring designers?
You have to work in the industry for a long time before you jump out on your own. Fashion is so saturated these days that you not only have to know the people you want to cater to but fine-tune your unique selling point. It can get discouraging but it’s important to stay passionate and believe in what you have to offer.
Is there any specific person you attribute your success to? Why?
My mom, since I was first inspired by her great sense of style, and that’s what got me so interested in the fashion industry. Plus, she is always encouraging, and supportive, and has been a strong, empowered, career-oriented woman, and it made me proud and I looked up to her.
What’s next for T.Tandon?
I’ve stumbled upon some gorgeous French fabrics I’d love to create a feminine fitted collection with, sure to make my clients happy.
Ashley Kooblall is a NYC-based online writer/editor whose work has been featured in YourTango, Women’s Health, and DISFunkshion Magazine. In her spare time she can be found in the nearest Barnes & Noble scoping out the latest books, preferably South Asian historical fiction. Follow her on Twitter @akooblall.