Surrounded by fashion from a young age and with a stylish mother, who had a closet full of gorgeous Indian pieces, as her role model, Baban Gill has been living, breathing and dreaming about Indian fashion from an early age. Her mother, a talented seamstress and designer, stitched Indian outfits for Baban and her younger sister Kimi during their younger years, and worked with big local boutiques likes Farrah’s Bridal in their heyday. Baban’s weekends were spent helping her mother out, and it is at these local boutiques that the young fashionista would accessorize new arrivals with luxurious jewelry and bangles. It was on those weekends that she spent immersed in Indian fashion that Baban was able to learn the essentials of retail, names of fabrics and embroideries, and develop her own personal style.
In 2006 Baban’s mother opened up a retail boutique where Baban spent more time helping out after school and on weekends, all while learning the process of sketching and creating her own pieces. Pushing her dreams away of one day owning her own clothing label, Baban decided to go with the norm of pursuing a post-secondary education, and began her career in teaching. Her fascination with fabrics, embroideries and fashion beckoned her, but Baban remained unaware that her passion for fashion would one day lead her to pursue a career in fashion design, and eventually lead to her developing her own fashion label.
Raised with the belief that she should pursue what made her happy, after three short years of working as an education assistant for the Surrey school district and attending school part-time to finish her teaching degree, Baban decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue her passion. With the love, support and encouragement of her family, after a rigorous and selective screening process, Baban was accepted into the Fashion Design Program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. After learning a lot in her first year, Baban felt the program, which is geared towards western wear, wasn’t for her.
With a minor in business, Baban decided to get started on a business plan and plan out her future in the summer of 2013. In September she was up and running on social media, giving her followers, or whom she calls her second family, an insight on her process to creating her label and sketching out her whole Spring/Summer 2014 Collection. After emptying out her savings account and whatever strength and power she had, she finally travelled across the world to India.
With the help of her father who assisted her with navigating the streets of Delhi and Ludhiana, she finally found wholesalers, a Masterji, and karigaar. Spending long hours and many days planning and working hands-on with the karigaar and Masterji, Baban was finally able to give life to all her sketches. She returned to Canada with suitcases full of her pieces and earlier this year, launched her first collection.
Baban’s collection is Indian couture built from tradition, culture and the essence of Indian royalty from medieval to early-modern India. She employs lush fabrics and simple to heavy embroideries, merging them together to create coveted pieces of art that are wearable and stylish.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
As a child growing up it was my dream to become a fashion designer. When I graduated from high school my mind had settled on going through with that plan. However, as I started working part-time and going to school full-time it was difficult seeing people in the art industry struggle to gain success for their work. So, I started thinking from logical point of view and decided to go into my passion for teaching. Though throughout the years my heart was still in designing Indian wear and catching up on the latest trends from runways in India and Pakistan.
What’s it like being in the industry?
It is a lot of hard work! However, I find the challenge fun. My line of work is my passion so I am very nurturing towards my brand and am patient with every step I take.
How would you describe your brand?
My brand is chic, sophisticated and very timeless. It is designed for women that want to wear classy pieces with pure and rich fabrics and silhouettes that stay in fashion. My vision and goal is to create pieces you could pass down to your children because I, myself, feel very attached to Indian clothing and I feel like there are other woman out there that feel the same way. I know so many woman out there that raid their mom’s closets for those amazing pieces that have come back in style. I want my pieces to be those pieces, that the little ladies of the household raid their mom’s closets for!
How has social media impacted your business and reach?
I never really realized the potential outreach social media would have for my brand. I am able to follow local to international businesses that pertain to my industry and stay connected with their latest work. Through social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, I have been able to reach out to amazing influential woman in our community. With their support and recognition of my work, I have been able to reach clients who relate to my brand and style.
Do you get a lot of time to design with your teaching schedule?
No I don’t but I have to make the time! I am working during the day and then work on my upcoming collection and custom orders during the evenings to midnight or till 2am, then up again at 7am for work. However, it doesn’t seem like work to me. It feels like I am designing clothes for my friends, so they become top priority. It is still hard work though.
Do you scope out your competition or do you find it unnecessary?
I had to study about the industry before I plunged into it. However, I just focused on myself and where I wanted my brand to go so I didn’t look back to see who was doing what or what they created. But I do follow designers on Instagram and show full support because I hope we all make it.
Who are you designing for?
These designs are for the modern woman who wants to wear very traditional, sophisticated classy pieces and all she needs to carry it out with her, is her confidence. She’s driven to succeed and knows what she wants and wants to look elegant doing it.
What model or designer would you love to have wear your clothes?
I would love to have Sushmita Sen wear my clothes. Not only is she a beautiful woman on the outside but more beautiful on the inside. She’s a globally recognized philanthropist based in India and she’s out there to make a change in the lives of women who need help in their daily lives, by empowering them to grow. She is one of my idols and I hope to someday do the same line of social work in my community.
If you got to speak to your younger self, what would you tell her?
I would say, you did all you could, couldn’t have done it any better, and worked hard to become who you are today, and I thank you for being strong and patient, because you have become a beautiful woman with amazing people in your life who support and love you for you.
The Spring 2014 Collection is segregated into three sections: Paramparavith, Safaid and Rangeen. Paramparavith, meaning tradition, is Baban’s interpretation on the traditional clothing of Maharani’s in the Indian Medieval Era. It focuses on the rich and bold colours on gorgeous textiles on different forms of pure silks, banarsi and velvets. Safaid, meaning white, focuses on the purity of balance with fabrics and embroideries with the colour white. Lastly, Rangeen, meaning colourful, is our lively and boisterous culture interpreted into colours that matter so much to us during our joyous occasions. These sections will contain pieces that have an underlying factor of elegance, quality, sophistication, and love for Indian tradition.
Derived from the essence of Indian heritage and history of simple and elegant embroideries and rich, lush fabrics. Tailored to make the independent woman feel classy and timeless at any function.
Staying within the boundaries of rich fabrics is the fun, and flirty side of the independent woman. Marking her wardrobe in silhouettes of colour, different cuts, and vivid nostalgic colours of Indian Holi.
The essential purity of Indian culture is the hues of white in every woman’s closet. For those times she just wants to be simple in her own style, yet stand out in the crowd in the unique silhouettes.