Pushing Boundaries - Zara Umrigar

Beautiful and soft-spoken, Zara is the perfect ambassador for her brand, which exudes femininity and romance. She grew up around beautiful clothes, since her mother, designer Sabita Dhanrajgir has been making exquisite clothes for over three decades, therefore fashion and style are a given for this elegant and charming south Bombay girl.

You seem to be doing really well in the fashion space of late. How did it all begin?
From a young age, I was intrigued by the world of fashion and the intricacies that went into making gorgeous couture pieces. My mother, Sabita Dhanrajgir, has been designing Indian wear for over 32 years now, and she was a huge inspiration to me. I watched her work closely and learnt everything I know from her. Having studied economics in London, fashion design wasn’t always the plan for me. My love for fashion grew during my years in London, and I ended my stay there by pursuing a detailed course at the London College of Fashion. However, I would have to say that my background in economics and management is really what taught me how to run my business.

My journey so far has been fun, exciting, and fast-paced. After returning from London, I worked under my mother for two years before launching my own label – ‘Zara Umrigar’. A short while after the birth of my brand, I started three stores in different parts of India, and an array of celebrities were spotted in my outfits. From Bollywood to, more recently Hollywood, the brand has garnered some good attention within the country and overseas. My brand is best defined by classic silhouettes and bold hand embroidery. I love a timeless look in anything I create, and we pride ourselves on our attention to detail.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
There have been so many exciting parts of this journey, but most recently I’d have to say that spotting my outfits on Hollywood celebrities has been a surreal experience. From Mel B of the Spice Girls, to country star Kelsea Ballerini, we’ve had some amazing personalities wear our pieces! The biggest highlight of my career so far was being featured in Vogue Italia recently. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s so rewarding to see the brand being appreciated in different parts of the world, most of all by our clients. Every day is rewarding and nothing compares to the joy and thrill of watching my designs come to life, and having people allow you to be such a big part of their special occasions.

What do you do when you’re not working?
I love writing poetry. Very few people know this about me because I’m never one to share them! I love travelling and exploring new places, spending good time with my loved ones, and catching up on TV shows… I’d say that’s my favourite way to unwind. Long drives and good music are at the top of that list, too! I also love to swim. I competed at the State level when I was younger.

What life lessons have you learnt through your work?
That everyone’s opinions didn’t always matter... I wish I had known that back when I started, that it was ok to be different in a world where most people follow trends. I was always afraid to push boundaries and to experiment, but that comes with time and finding who you are as a designer. I also wish I knew that everything takes time and patience is the key to success!

What’s next?
I plan to continue expanding my brand, taking it all over the world with shows and exciting tie-ups that are in the pipeline. We plan to launch our online store, and hopefully more standalone stores in different parts of India soon, too!                    – as told to Suneela