May 27, 2019
For UK-based designer Ayush Kejriwal, fair isn’t lovely. Instead, “dark is beautiful,” and he’s weaving it into his saris. “The sari is one garment that you can pick up without feeling bad about yourself,” he said. “It’s so forgiving.”
Kejriwal, who grew up in Kolkata and moved to the United Kingdom for graduate school, continues to challenge the industry’s narrow ideals of body image and beauty. He also works in public relations and draws inspiration from everywhere. “Sometimes, you are making ladies fingers with chickpeas and you never thought green and beige would go so well together,” he said.
The designer sat down with me to talk about beauty, his love for the sari, and how he wants young girls and boys to learn about self love.
My passion for creativity started when I was very young. My mother lost her vision and she was struggling to match her clothes. I started helping her. People used to admire the clothes I sorted for my sister and her. I always had that streak in me at a very young age.
I haven’t had any formal education in design. I wasn’t brave enough to do what I wanted to when I was young. It’s only when I came to the UK, I started with a few pieces and people liked it. So I thought, you know what, I need to go ahead and do it. It started to fulfill a creative vacuum which existed in my life. I didn’t plan it and it was received very well by the general public.
My first customer was a German lady. I had gone to India for a short holiday. I designed a few saris and my sister wore them. We took some pictures and posted them on Instagram. The woman in Germany bought the sari for €150. I was surprised that someone would be willing to pay money for my designs, without even seeing how it felt. It gave me the confidence to create more and one thing led to another.
I work as a PR (public relations) professional. So when I started designing, it was never about money. It’s still never about money. It was a platform to express my creative passion and I never thought it’d be so well received.