Harpal Sogi: I dress to please myself, not the people around meThe fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into, but 22 year-old up and coming designer, Harpal Sogi thinks he’s cracked it. With his avant-garde style, eclectic mix of prints and accessories, he’s already leaps and bounds ahead of his peers. A daring dress sense attracts a lot of attention, but even more so when you’re breaking the mould for traditionally conservative Indian men. Maintaining an eclectic style, usually finished with an elegantly wrapped turban, Harpal is currently studying Retail Management at one of the top fashion universities in Toronto. We caught up with Harpal for a quick one-to-one.
I wear what fits me physically and emotionallyWhen did you discover you have an aptitude for fashion? I think I was about ten when I knew I wanted to be in fashion. It was around that time when I felt the desire to sketch; though my drawing skills were terrible at that time. Who have you modeled for? It’s only been three months since I started my modeling career. I’ve modeled for Patrick Salonga and Keniya-X-Label, which was the opening show. I was officially discovered by TOM* Toronto Men’s Fashion Week and am currently being represented by the brand. You’re an aspiring designer, have you started working on your collection? I haven’t begun designing yet, but I do create sketches. I believe in understanding the fashion industry first before getting into it, and that’s the reason why I’m studying Retail Management. I’m learning about buying, wholesale sales and branding. I believe that if I’m knowledgeable about the fashion market then there’s a better chance of me finding success. In other words, I’m trying to understand the way customers think. Which designers do you look up to? I’ve always been inspired by Alexander Lee McQueen. I feel like I share a very strong bond with him. He once said, “I want to empower women, I want people to be afraid of the women I dress” and I find it very fascinating. The women who dress in his clothes are very powerful, indeed. Also, he was an artist who created living art. I’m keeping him alive everyday through my personal style.
I wear what I like not what people would like to seeDo you want to go into menswear, womenswear or both? I want to focus on womenswear first, but I will create men’s collection because men’s industry is somewhat a disaster with no excitement. I want to change the way men shop and the way they look at clothes. I want to be the first couturier to launch men’s couture collection. I want my clothes to be that exciting. Do you feel Indian men are taking more of an interest in fashion and becoming more experimental? In Canada, not as much. Men in general are not into experimentation when it comes to fashion. When I entered the fashion school I was hoping that I will meet some stylish people, but it was quite the contrary. I really want men to take an interest in fashion because men unfortunately are the minority in fashion. There has been an obvious rise in Sikh representation on the runway. Do you think the turban will be around in mainstream fashion in the long term? It depends because the British fashion industry is very supportive towards Sikhs, whereas Milan, New York and Toronto are not as much. It will take some time for everyone to get used to turban, but once it’s there it will be like the ‘little black dress’ because it’s elegant, and is always in style. You say “clothes ought to be worn as an extension of one's personality” – how do your clothes reflect your presonality? I wear what fits me physically and emotionally. Let me explain further. For instance, I get a certain satisfaction by the way I dress. I feel like an original rather than another ‘knock off’ you might find on the street. When I say ‘an extension of my personality,’ what I’m trying to say is that one should only wear what he or she can carry with pride. I dress to please myself, and not the people around me. You’re not afraid to express your individuality! Do you get a lot of attention? I think I get too much attention. Every day I come across people who either love my attire or they find it so outrageous that they curse at me. You might find it strange, but it doesn’t bother me because I wear what I like not what people would like to see. What are your wardrobe staples which help you create your unique look? A floral shirt, a head to toe black look, a statement accessory (which can include a tie, necklace, sunglasses or shoes), a see through tee, an oversized blazer, and most importantly paper bag pants (I recommend Yohji Yamamoto). Describe your style in three words. Elegant, Edgy, Bold! What’s next for you? Presently, I’m working with some of the photographers and stylist to build my portfolio. I will be attending casting calls for Elite Modeling Agency. Within a few months I will begin designing clothes and by next year I will be wearing my own designs.
For other interviews with on stylish Asian men, take a read of these:
- Jay Sean Interview - Singh Street Style: Pardeep Singh Bahra Interview - Anish Bhatt of WatchAnish: I see my watch as art - Anil Arjandas – Instagram celebrity and men’s jewellery designer - Sundeep Singh Maan: Best Dressed Reader 2014