That sense of strength is not limited to Velendra’s clothing—his story is a lesson in determination. Velendra was born in Bengaluru, India, and says he “was struggling with poverty.” One of his first jobs was moulding and selling candles on the street, which is one early thread in his creative evolution. Following a move at the age of 16 to Chennai he got a job as a “light boy” charged with cleaning and servicing equipment on Bollywood movie sets, which lead to a gig cleaning clothes and costumes used on those movies. This in turn led to roles in the costume departments of productions where he says he observed “actors complaining about insecurities—that they didn’t have strong shoulders, or big thighs, or broad chests.” Rising to assistant costume designer, he also became a personal stylist for prominent Indian actors and was advised that to get ahead in menswear he should consider applying to Central Saint Martins in London.Two looks from Velendra’s new collectionPhoto: Courtesy of Kaushik Velendra
Following 16 (!) applications, he won a place on CSM’s Menswear Fashion MA and graduated last year. Granted an Exceptional Talent visa to remain in the UK, he founded his label in October 2019, presented that first show in January, was within weeks nominated for the LVMH Prize, asked to dress Alton Mason for the Grammy Awards, and dressed Bollywood star Ranveer Singh in a hero-shouldered tuxedo for the Filmfare Awards.
The trip to Paris for the LVMH Prize event—“it was fantastic, I met everyone under the sun”—came shortly before the advent of lockdown and pause. You get the sense that this designer of particular vision and enormous persistence won’t be pausing for long.