Kajal Patel grew up finding herself always gravitating towards interesting textiles and details found in clothing, especially those seen in traditional Indian garments. This interest translated swiftly to her most recent graduate collection named ‘Naam’, which celebrates and explores the combination of Kajal’s two worlds; her Indian cultural heritage and her life in New Zealand. ‘Naam’ celebrates the significance of textile and dress heritage that is in the heart of Indian clothing. This collection highlights elements in traditional clothing from Gujarat and Indian such as the sari’s pleating, draping and rich tasselling detail. In conjunction, this collection also sees informal and asymmetrical shapes that represent the relaxed and unique New Zealand lifestyle. In a bold colour palette of rich mustard yellows, bold greys and blacks in luxurious textiles it is hard to miss the Indian influence in Kajal’s designs.

As a Kiwi-Indian, she hopes her designs act as a canvas of personal expression for herself whilst also sparking the conversation for other Kiwi-Indians to explore their own unique identity. The collection is called ‘Naam’ as it is hindi for ‘name’; it is a collection for every individual Indian woman who seeks a ‘name’ in the world they live in that is so diverse. The celebration of diversity between different cultures as well as the diversity seen within oneself should be celebrated. Patel is inspired by fashion designer Sabayasachi Mukherjee as his work incorporates traditional methods of craftmanship specific to traditional Indian clothing. The way Kajal Patel finds various methods to create her pieces are hugely inspired by Mukherjee.

The way a garment looks is just as important as the method pursued to create it, Kajal Patel is conscious of this and aims to incorporate such methods into her work. The design process is a huge passion of Patel’s. Seeing a garment come together is one thing, but spending hours fine-tuning the details is one of Patel’s favourite parts of the whole process. After graduating from Massey University Patel has taken on internships to gain further experience in the industry. “At the end of my internship, I gained a stronger sense of vision of where in the fashion industry I would find myself heading.”

Patel is hoping to open an online store one day but for now she is focusing on gaining as much knowledge about the industry as possible through further internships and local fashion events. “I would love the opportunity to showcase my work on an international platform such as New Zealand Fashion Week.” For more information, email kajalpatel.bhana@gmail.com or find her on Instagram @_kajal.p.