Issue 7 / Designer Profile: Babita Malkani

Designer Profile: Babita Malkani

Jul 20, 2015

Babita Malkani’s namesake label has been gracing the ramp for the last two decades. A savvy business woman and the recipient of the 2014 fifth annual India Leadership Conclave and Indian Affairs Business Leadership Award, Malkani has cultivated a niche market with her risqué, contemporary collections that don’t compromise traditional Indian styling.
Born in Mumbai, India, Malkani’s path to becoming a fashion designer was not typical but rather her talent grew through her exposure and involvement in the family export and textile business. We had a chance to speak with Malkani to get the scoop on her growing global empire.

 Babita Malkani 


What prompted you to start your own fashion label?

I have never done a formal course in fashion designing, however my early inspirations and talent acquisition have come through my exposure and involvement in my family’s fashion business. 
Earlier in your career, have you worked with or mentored with another designer? If so, who? And what was your take-away?

No, I never needed to mentor with anybody. As I mentioned earlier I have come from a background of business and export in the fashion industry so I grew up with an in-house sensibility to style and fashion.
You mentioned in your previous response, that your talent and inspirations came from your family’s fashion business?  What type of family business was it and what was your role in the company?

It’s an export house in the textile and garment industry. I was the director in the company and from there began my love for fashion and design.

What was your parents’ role in the company and how many years did you work as a director for the company?  

My father was the proprietor of the company. I worked in the company for five years. The company name was Whispers International.

Did you start as a director or did you gradually work up to the role through other roles?

I worked my way up to become the director. I started from the grassroot level.

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Do you find it gives you an edge over other designers?

Yes, because you have grown up seeing and feeling fashion day and night, it does give you an edge because you know what the forthcoming trends are, season predictions, [and] international exposure is higher.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when you’re designing a collection?

Oh just about most things,. Not that they all translate into collections but the process of drawing inspiration from objects, places, moods, festivals, experiences, materials. However my most successful inspirations have been from places I have visited, which probably explains the diversity of our design style. 
Can you share some of your favourite cities you've traveled to?

My favourite city is New York. The energy of that city is amazing! I love the hustle and bustle, shopping, eateries and bars. Every street has a story to tell.
What was the inspiration behind your Summer/Resort 2015 collection?

[The] inspiration behind S/R 2015 collection was Alaska Native. Alaska Native cultures are rich and diverse, and their art forms are magnificent representations of their history, skills, tradition, adaptation and nearly 20,000 years of continuous life in some of the most remote places on earth. Hence it was the chief inspiration behind this collection.

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015

Omayok – Lakme Fashion Week, Summer/Resort 2015


 Out of all your collections which one is your favourite?

All my collections are my favourite, but I do have a soft corner for Metalmorphosis A/W 2011 as it was a huge task to get the look of industrial glamour onto cloth to create fashion. My second favourite would be Urban Nomad A/W 2012 as it was inspired by Tanzania and I loved this bohemian chic look.

Metalmorphosis Lakme Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2011

Metalmorphosis Lakme Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2011

Metalmorphosis Lakme Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2011

Can you reveal your celebrity clientele? 

I have designed for Anushka Sharma, Shraddha Kapoor, Lisa Haydon, Sunny Leone, Amyra Dastur, Malaika Arora Khan, Amrita Rao, Tabu, Asin, Vidya Balan, Geeta Basra and Shriya Saran.
I notice Kalki Koechlin walked in your A/W 2011. Are you her go to designer for red carpet events? If so, which shows have you dressed her for?

Kalki has a very distinct style. She loves to experiment with her clothes and looks and that’s what I love about her the most. I haven’t styled her recently but now that you brought it to my notice I will definitely style and dress her very soon.

Kalki Koechlin walks the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week, Autumn/Winter 2011

Has Kalki walked the ramp for more than one of your collections?

No she hasn’t. Just once [for me].
Soha Ali Khan, walked for your S/R 15 collection. Is there a correlation between the theme and the celebrity who walks for the show?

Yes. Soha's personal style is very bohemian and free spirited which goes with my theme.

Soha Ali Khan with designer Babita Malkani at Lakme Fashion Week S/R 2015 

Have you ever thought of doing a fashion show in Paris, New York, Milan or London? If you had to choose one city which city would it be and why?

To showcase my collection in Paris, New York, Milan or London has always been on my mind. I will very soon plan on doing a show internationally. The city where I would love to showcase my collection would be at the Paris Fashion Week because Paris is the capital of fashion.

Can you provide us with the exclusive scoop for your A/W 15-16 collection?

I cannot disclose this but it is definitely my travels again.
Who are your favourite designers and why?

My favourite designers are DVS as his designs are casual, chic, fun [and] wearable. [His] abstract prints are wonderful. And Zuhair Murad as his work is exquisite and extremely elegant with a touch of luxurious glamour.
I saw you recently taught a session on fashion styling with the students at Mod'Art International. Is it a passion of yours to mentor fashion students?

Yes it is. Encouraging new talent is always good. Young talent have so many great ideas [and] concepts. It’s a refreshing change
Can you provide five business tips for those who wish to build their own fashion business/empire?

1) Have your own distinct style.
2) Build on a signature look.
3) Follow trends in terms of colours, silhouettes, etc.
4) Believe in your passion and work positively towards your goal.
5) Gather as much experience as you can in the fashion world.

Images courtesy of Babita Malkani / 

Tessa Johnson


Tessa (@tessajstyle) holds a diploma in Fashion Business Management from George Brown College and has Fashion Coordination and Styling certification from Ryerson University. She has been ANOKHI Magazine’s Fashion Editor for the last four years covering the runways from Toronto to India. Her love...


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