Rooted in Fashion - Natasha Das

Indian born and Connecticut and New York-raised, Natasha’s global upbringing and diverse yet deep rooted culture play an important role in her work. She launched her bespoke, made to order luxury womenswear brand Danarys New York last year during the pandemic after quitting her job in finance at the Wall Street. Through her clothing line, she encourages women to realize their unique power and take on the world with their strength. Here’s what she had to say about her journey:-

What led you to launch your fashion label?
I have been inspired by fashion for years, right from my childhood. But in 2019, while I was applying for the membership of the UNICEF Next Generation committee, a member was having a trunk and while browsing through her collection, I liked a piece and asked for a few modifications. The lady was shocked and asked if I had a fashion background, because I was so confident about what I wanted and knew that the alterations would make the garment even better. I was amused and replied that I had a Math background with a degree in quantitative finance and worked in an investment bank on Wall Street. She went on to say that I had a good eye for fashion and that I should do something with my creativity. That got me thinking… At that point, I was at a crossroads in my professional life and was giving interviews for jobs so I thought of starting a brand on the side. But then the pandemic hit, putting all of my interviews and prospective work options on hold. So during the lockdown, I decided to do a course on machine learning after which I began brainstorming about what kind of fashion line I should start.

I was born in India and grew up in Connecticut and New York and thus my varied culture gave me an edge over the rest. My fashion sense is inspired by all my cultures and my brand, Danarys New York, combines all that with my own personal touch. I did a lot of research before I even made my first piece because I wanted to know what exactly women were looking for and interested in. I wanted to make something that was modern yet classic and a good mix of my cultural background. So in my clothes, the draping and embroidery are inspired from the British raj in India, there’s a subtleness that comes from Connecticut and a fierceness and rebel element from New York. Put simply, my clothes denote aVictorian princess meets fashion forward urbanite.

What does the name denote?
‘DA’ comes from my last name Das, ‘NA’ from my first name Natasha and ‘ARI’ is a Hebrew word for lion which also happens to be my zodiac sign (Leo).

Daenerys Targaryen is also character in Game of Thrones and she’s a very powerful and fierce lady who was controlled by her brother’s power but when she broke free she became a great leader—soft but strong, unique and fierce. So my brand is a play of words that encourages women to own their uniqueness and their strengths.

Tell us about your collection. What does it consist of?
I have limited my collections to dresses so we have luxury occasion wear, everyday classics and some ball gowns too. Based on my research, women want clothes that are versatile, wearable and comfortable. Whether you’re going out for a brunch, cocktail evening or a gala, we’ve got you covered! We also have some two pieces and co-ord sets that are easy to wear and can be teamed in different ways, so you get good use of the money you’re spending on them.

Everything from my brand is customised and made to order so you will not find another of the same. We have a size chart that differs according to your height, but apart from that too, the fit can be customised to your size because every body is beautiful and deserves a flattering outfit!

When it comes to individuality, we believe what you wear is an expression of who you are. So if you love something, we will make sure to make it happen for you, whether it’s a certain style, a different colour or even a print. Some of the basic alterations are done free of cost but if there’s a major difference, it will be chargeable. We also do the fabric printing inhouse, so you won’t find the same print anywhere else in the world.

Showcasing your collection during New York Fashion Week is a big deal! How was the response?
It was a lot of hard work and I did it all on my own. Within a year of starting my journey, I showcased my collection during New York Fashion Week and had many heavy hitters and top models attend it, so it was a great feeling! I was overwhelmed at the response. All the effort, tears, blood and sweat was beyond worth it! I showcased 15 pieces, all of which have been named after people who have inspired me. I handpicked the models myself and all of them, although top runway models, had unconventional backgrounds like me. I also did the PR on my own and partly styled the show too. I was recognised as the first show of fashion week and being praised on a platform like that incredible. I had the same kind of adrenaline rush as I used to get while working at Wall Street. In fact, it may have even beat it!

What is your take on sustainable fashion?
Every brand needs to have a sustainable practice. I strongly believe that during covid, the Earth was sending us a message. It took nothing for the world to rule us for months and during this time, the environment thrived! So we need to treat it well and with respect.

I wanted to make sure that I had a great sustainability practice because I feel fast fashion is so wasteful. Brands like Zara and H&M come out with 10,000 styles a year!It is an abomination that you can find a garment cheaper than a sandwich. So although trendy, it is a waste and made out of cheap fabric. So when I decided to make my brand, I chose the best fabrics that are recyclable and have less carbon footprint. Clothes are an investment and should be able to be passed down generations and my clothes are exactly that! Since all our pieces are made to order, wastage is negligible. We also donate the leftover fabrics to fashion students who canuse it for their projects.

What’s your personal style like?
I’m a very classic person and haven ever been into trends. I have some staple pieces that have been in my wardrobe for years. I’m also into luxury fashion and always buy things that I can keep for years and even give to my children later. Most often you will see my in collared shirts and high heels. Even to my office in Wall Street, I used to wear spiked Louboutin shoes to work. I was known as “the girl who does her deals in her heels” (laughs).

Who are your favourite designers?
When it comes to Indian designers, it is Sabyasachi. I’m obsessed with his designs. From the modern day designers it is Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.

Where does one buy your clothes?
I recently launched my website, so it can be bought on ww.Danarysnyc.com      - as told to Niharika