Malika Rajani – Canadian Fashion Designer

I believe as designers we have the ability to inspire women, to empower them with the confidence to make a difference in their lives and in society. I’m Malika Rajani, an independent Indian/Canadian designer, creating clothing for stylish modern women. My designs are unconventional with a contemporary edge. The modern aesthetic makes each piece uniquely distinct, incorporating intricate and edgy details into every creation, along with my trademark leather.

My story goes back in the time when I was born and raised in India which is famous for its textiles and creativity. I have grown up seeing vibrant textiles around me.My background is in finance and marketing but fashion was always a part of my life. Like all Indian parents, my dad was of the opinion that fashion can be a hobby so it was expected that I would make a career as an MBA or a doctor or an engineer.

When I moved to Canada, I had to go back to school to upgrade my qualification. Instead of going back to school and learning the same things I had learned in India, I chose to go to fashion school. I decided to move to New York City to attend  Parsons School of Design, where my work was presented at Lord & Taylor’s 2008 line debut.

While at Parsons, I had an opportunity to intern for design houses such as Kahn Lucas, Ralph Lauren, Red Cat Group and John Varvatos.

In 2009, I moved back to Calgary and started a fashion boutique called Passione and launched my line, Malika Couture, in 2012, which was a made-to-measure collection.

Since then, the aesthetics and core of the brand has changed. My leather line came into existence when I was in the market for a leather jacket for myself and I soon realized they all looked the same or the ones that I liked were very highly priced.

I saw the gap in the market and decided to create a line that not only provides unique jackets but were fairly priced with impeccable quality. The key factor that I didn’t want to compromise was quality. My jackets are handwoven by experienced artisans and it takes a full day to weave one skin. We use the most supple lambskin leather that can be worn year-round. The clothing is as beautifully made on the inside as the outside using a soft and durable lining.

I officially launched my leather collection in 2015 under the brand name Malika Rajani.

The initial stage of creating a leather collection was not an easy task. Being new to the business, it was hard to find an ethical source of manufacturing where the working environment was appropriate and where the artisans were paid fair wages. It took me a while to build a relationship with my manufacturer. To me ethical sourcing is important and  I strive to incorporate that in my business.

These days finding the right factory has become much easier compared to a few years ago, the world has become smaller and information is easily accessible.

Design Inspiration: My source of inspiration changes with different collections but mostly I get inspired from People, Travels, cultures, traditions, Architectures.  For example, in the past I collaborated with an artisan group steeped in heritage from a small village in China which specializes in the art of hand-crafted basket weaving. Through our collaboration we have been able to improve their quality of life while keeping this traditional practice alive. This weave is now Malika Rajani collection’s signature weave.

 As a founder, I’m a one man show right now so I am involved in everything from idea conceptualization, fabric selection, production, sales, distribution and marketing. I even do my financing as my background is accounting. A lot of work! But what is important is that I enjoy creating new designs and working on them.

 In addition to my job, I also run my family business which is a car dealership business so my time gets divided and thus, sometimes time management becomes challenging. I’m in search of a  Marketing agency so that the burden of work, especially in case of marketing gets divided.

The biggest challenge in the day to day business is to find the right factory to procure the goods. The factory needs to meet all the ethical challenges as well as be ready to work with the changing quantities. Especially during the pandemic with factories being closed it’s been difficult.

In terms of Likes and struggles- I love the creative process of designing where you can let your ideas run wild and express it on paper.

The struggle has been being able to get good working partners, like a marketing company or an agency who is able to fulfill the business goals within the allocated funds.

Things I wish I knew before starting a business and what have I learnt along the way- I did not realize the process of establishing a clothing line would be so difficult, but as things progressed I have learnt a lot! there were many mistakes along the way but each of those mistakes have  made me stronger and in turn made my brand stronger.

As a piece of advice for the aspirants, I would say every individual must have patience for succeeding in this industry. Also, there is no substitute for hard work. Work hard and it always pays off.

My biggest achievement- For me the biggest achievement is that I’m still in business. With the current pandemic situation, unfortunately  many businesses have had to close doors. I’m grateful to my clients, friends and family because of whom I have been able to survive in these difficult times. 

My success mantra is to never give up and learn from the mistakes that I have made. Also, a constant reminder to myself that, failure is the stepping stone to success so don’t be scared to fail.

 My vision- With the current situation my vision is short sighted ,  I want to make my online presence globally viable. Working with some marketing agency to achieve these goals is also on my list. Latest Collection-My latest collection is a small capsule collection inspired by and dedicated to woman who symbolizes strength, beauty and courage.

During the pandemic I have been in my home town Calgary where I started my brand. In this city I have amazing support of my clients, friends and family. I’m working on different art projects and a campaign for my clothing line with regards to the current global issues.

As my business revolves around leather I would like to share a fun fact that, an average consumer wears around 3-4 leather products at any given time that may involve items like shoes, jackets, wallets and even watches sometimes.

Thank you Malika for creating a space for leather fashion today and sharing your expertise in it. The brand and the vision of the brand makes it quite intriguing and inspiring for the newcomers to try, visualise and become the change.

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