As he sat there cursively with his Ikat sleeves complimenting the tangerine coloured armrest, his eyes alone narrated a story worth a million dimes. We often hear about people switching professions, taking a plunge and making that life altering move. Harshad Vesaokar’s journey, in a way, is another such account, and a radical one at that.
From being just another IT employee to now being a dapper Roposo marketing associate, and an emerging face of the city’s fashion scene, Harshad has come a rather long way – sailing through rough waters, striving and thriving, to the point where he now realises that there is nowhere else he would rather be. Along with being a community manager and a marketing associate at one of the best fashion portals in India, he blissfully attends fashion weeks and style events while documenting it all on his social media blog. Fashion to him is innate but working in fashion, totally unforeseen. In an exclusive with WODROB, he talks about the inspiration that served as a catalyst for this major yet gradual transformation while also sharing his personal style and fashion musings from the ramp.
Hear What He Has To Say
WM: What inspired you to take such a sudden leap from IT to fashion?
HV: It has been a gradual process for me. I was working in the IT sphere because I have done engineering in electronics and telecommunication. However, after three years I realised that it was becoming a monotonous process which is why I decided to shift but, the only shift available at the time was a shift to marketing and decided to take it up as it would be to the functional side of it from a technical one. Post that, I started studying marketing from Sydenham Institute and thereafter I gained knowledge in fashion as well as branding. I did not ever plan on venturing into fashion as a profession, however, I have always had an inclination towards it.
WM: How would you define your personal style?
HV: I do not follow any particular style. It is very situational and depends on the occasion. If I am attending a fashion show and the theme is couture week or bridal week, I will dress up accordingly. Most of my clothes have a slight Indian touch to them. My personal style preferably is indo-western.
WM: Besides your internal voice telling you to take a plunge into fashion, were there any external elements that influenced your decision?
HV: The external element has to be my management college and my inclination towards entertainment and Bollywood. I am a big television buff. I watch everything from daily soaps, Hollywood movies to lifestyle shows. Even during college I’d help my friends in fashion related matters. Roposo came to me as an internship where I helped in community engagement among other things.
WM: While you were undergoing this transformation, what kind of feedback did you receive from friends and family?
HV: When you are in the fashion world and especially when you are a man, there is a lot of speculation when it comes to dressing. I feel that every other man today in India is metrosexual. But, there is a difference between metrosexual and androgyny. When I try out a different colour, breezy or pastel shades, I do get judged. But that does not stop me from experimenting because I feel that all men are going to take a route into the fashion world at some point in their lives.
WM: Has digital media, especially social media, played a role in shaping your decision or style?
HV: It was Instagram due to which I was introduced to fashion. It shaped a lot of my thoughts. I learnt about the do’s and don’ts in fashion trends etc. I take a lot of effort in picking the right clothes and dressing myself up. Also, it is not always about the clothes, but how you wear them.
WM: Who do you derive your style inspiration from? Are there any pages or accounts on social media that you turn to for the same?
HV: Today, Ranveer Singh is making headlines for his quirky and out-of-the-box dressing. But I love street wear. So, I have always stuck to Shahid Kapoor’s sense of style but there are other blogger profiles that I follow too. However, my style is not similar to theirs since I keep experimenting.
WM: In what ways have your IT and managerial skills helped you in the fashion sphere?
HV: Fashion, as an industry, is extremely unorganised. So my skills from IT have actually kept me going. Also due to my managerial skills, I am able to balance and prioritise things better.
WM: How has your workplace helped you to enhance your personal style?
HV: At work, people dress up like they are walking the ramp every day quite contrary to my simple dressing. I started thinking of ways to stand out at the office. I started wearing printed shirts, I switched my plain glasses for better frames, to describe a few thing. All these small things helped me up my fashion game.
WM: Are there any misconceptions about the fashion world that you got to know only once you entered it?
HV: Unlike what they show you on television, fashion is not only about glamour and models do not have the best life. They get to wear these amazing clothes, yes, but nobody knows the amount of effort they put into it. From looking into what they eat, their water intake, skin, complexion…there is so much more than just glamour to it.
WM: Since a few years, men have upped their fashion game and now are on par with women. What do you think could be the reasons behind such an evolution?
HV: Men earlier were not open and experimental enough in terms of fashion. They would stick to basic colours and styles. However, since a few years, that is changing. Also, several magazines today are educating men on the latest trends and styles. I know for a fact that men in the coming years, will be more fashion conscious than women because for women it will be like, ‘been there, done that’ however its going to a new phase in the life of a man.
WM: Can you talk about the specific challenges that you faced while you were switching from IT to fashion?
HV: Fashion can be complicated. I faced a hard time when I had to completely switch from one phase to another. Working in an IT firm, my routine was monitored and more systematic. But here, it was a completely different world. The biggest challenge here is you have to multitask. You can’t be stuck to just one role or responsibility, unlike how my previous jobs were. It is a flat hierarchy but you need to make a difference with the kind of work you do in order to survive. I took a lot of time adapting to this pattern of work, switching from an organised sphere to an unorganised one. But, I like this more because I get to do a lot more things than I could have, in my entire life because at one point, I am writing content and at another, I am attending fashion weeks and meeting people from different backgrounds.
WM: Can you share an inspiring incident at one of the fashion weeks you attended?
HV: Fashion weeks completely depend on the designer’s creation and inspiration. One exciting thing about fashion shows is the choreography that helps get the entire execution in place. I had attended a School’s alchemy fashion show which included various elements of drama and fantasy where models portrayed a Persian love story in the form of a dance. Another such incident was the India Beach Fashion Week where the central element was the ocean. So, it included cycling on the ramp, love letters and the best part was that it was at a beach. With the sun setting behind the show, it really was something I have never witnessed before.
WM: What are the few trends dominating the runway right now?
HV: Sustainable fashion. Organic clothing and different silhouettes.
WM: There is a large group of people like you who, in spite of being in various fields are passionate about fashion. However, due to societal pressure, family influence or other such reasons are not able to explore their options. What would your advice be to such people?
HV: I have been inclined towards fashion since my school days. I would draw sketches and knew, fashion had always been there in me but I never worked on it until now. Every person aspires to be someone, to do something they are passionate about. I would say, don’t hesitate. Just go for it. Dress according to your body type and experiment with new styles.
WM: What plans are in the pipeline?
HV: I am reading a lot about styling and I want to delve into that sphere. I have ideated on a few styling projects and I would love to continue with them. Apart from that, I would like to leverage my connections I have built over the year.
Shot at the Indian School of Design Innovation (ISDI)