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Indian-American Designer Tina Tandon Speaks About Fashion and her Career

Indian-American designer Tina Tandon accomplished what many can only dream of - successfully sell to high-end clothing retailers in the U.S. and internationally in countries such as India, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

Updated: October 4, 2014 12:00 AM IST

By Alicia Chinatomby

Tina Tandon

Indian-American designer Tina Tandon accomplished what many can only dream of – successfully sell to high-end clothing retailers in the U.S. and internationally in countries such as India, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.

Besides Rachel Roy, Tandon is the only other Indo-American female fashion designer to sell under her own namesake label, and style many A-list celebrities, including Padma Lakshmi and Janina Gavankar.

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A graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and more than ten years of experience of working in the fashion industry, Tandon’s path has been one great steppingstone after the other, leading to success.

Tandon decided to branch out after working in Design and Product Development at West Elm, a modern home furnishings company and division of Williams Sonoma, Inc., and create her own line, T. Tandon

“I started my business on a whim, not knowing what I was getting into, Tandon said. “I just quit my job one day, flew to India and put together my first collection.”

She recalled reading somewhere that, “desire is the manifestation of power. If you have a desire for something, you innately have the power to fulfill that desire.”

Tandon’s style is without a doubt a reflection of what she wears, she said. She describes it as practical, versatile and simple with a bit of a twist to it. She believes in spending a good amount of money on quality clothing, that can be worn again and again.

A lover of femininity and wearable glamour, Tandon said she is also mindful of the look she is creating for women

Tina Tandon
Indian-American designer Tina Tandon

Tandon’s  design process  initiates from where all clothing begins: at the fabric store. She picks fabrics that are speaking to her at the moment, and is able to envision what can and cannot be done with them, and then her ideas become clearer.

When asked if she ever had doubts about this industry, she simply replied, “I actually still do, all the time! It gets frustrating at times, and there are so many headaches.”

Spoken like a true designer in a fast-paced industry, she continued to say, “sometimes I just want to quit [it] all, and live on a beach in Bali! But then something or the other always reminds me why I love designing and fashion.”

What stemmed from boredom is now a creation of the two amazing clothing lines that represent contemporary clothes as well tributes to her heritage, Tandon said.

One is POSH PARI couture, launched in 2006, is a Desi clothing line that focuses on creating a limited collection for private clients, by fusing Tandon’s South Asian heritage with modern and minimalistic clothes. Catering to the new generation of South Asians, who want to redefine the traditional look, Tandon infuses each unique piece with embroideries and trims, while keeping it in tune with the Western fashion world.

As for her second line, T.Tandon, Tandon described it as a completely contemporary brand with modern silhouettes and a hint of vintage, which mix together to create timeless pieces. Tandon said for specific seasons, she will gravitate towards creating Indian-inspired clothing.

Tina tandon

T.Tandon’s SS14 collection at New York Fashion Week 2013

“I am a fan of chikankari work, and you will often find that in my Spring/Summer collections,” Tandon mentioned. She goes on to say, “I try to keep it very contemporary, as I think, it would be very cliché for me to design an Indian inspired collection for the American market, being of Indian origins.”

She said she finds handling both lines as a great challenge, yet she succeeds in making clothes American and South Asian women would want to wear.

In addition to designing, charity is just as important to Tandon, as she recalled, “visiting India often and seeing the poor kids on the streets and also seeing them skip school to work always broke my heart.” This is what motivated her to stick with the goal to donate a portion of her profits to organizations that strengthens in providing educational aid to the unprivileged. Not only does she contribute to the larger organizations, but she likes to help individual families in need.

She is a strong advocate for female entrepreneurs, and said most of her production is done in units owned by women in India.

Although her wish list is constantly changing, she said she would love to work with actress Blake Lively, Brazilian model and designer Camila Alves, and Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor.

“There are always new fashion muses, who are in the media/ press, and you can’t help but imagine them wearing your designs,” Tandon said.

As per her own styling advice to others, Tandon said hiring a stylist at least once in your life to find your best style is worth it. Stylists can pinpoint what shapes work best for your body type, and steer you in the right direction, she said. A few other noteworthy tips, Tandon said, is experimenting with different styles, deciding what to accentuate or hide, wearing proper undergarments, and adding a twist to a classic look.

Tandon is well aware that she has much to accomplish, but is taking it one stride at a time.

“I am taking my time, and letting it grow organically,” Tandon said. “I try to live a well-balanced life, and I don’t feel it’s worth to kill yourself over a career.”

As for plans in the future, Tandon hopes to expand her business into other areas, such as jewelry, accessories, handbags and shoes, on top of having a store for her line.

T. Tandon's SS14 designs at New York Fashion Week 2013. (Photo Credit: Sunny Kam Photography)

T. Tandon’s SS14 designs at New York Fashion Week 2013. (Photo Credit: Sunny Kam Photography)

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