Archana Walavalkar Of Stylecracker On All You Need To Know To Slay This Wedding Season
For the soon-to-be-wed, the trousseau is more often than not a touchy subject; spelling excitement and emotional strain in equal parts. But we are willing to bet that for the newly-married Archana Walavalkar, it wasn’t much of a bother. A name to be reckoned with in the fashion universe, this 32-year-old influencer has co-founded the online fashion start-up StyleCracker with close friend Dhimaan Shah – a venture that has been gathering steam swiftly and steadily ever since its launch in 2013.
When you think about it, the idea seems ridiculously simple. More so in the current scenario where we are flooded with choices at every turn. So, when the personal styling platform debuted on the scene in India, the lovers of style let out a collective sigh of relief. Quickly establishing a solid presence, StyleCracker squeezed its way into our trusty circle of essential apps that has become an ingrained part of our daily routine, cementing its spot in our browsing histories as well as our wardrobes in no time at all.
For the fashion-conscious, it starts with a questionnaire, and ends with unveiling personalised StyleCracker Boxes delivered right to the doorstep. A slew of virtual stylists help curate the optimum ensemble for every occasion — including pre-wedding and trousseau shopping. And the final touch? The unparalleled joy of unwrapping the perfect present. With a blog supplying all the best new tips and trends, keeping up with fashion or the Kardashians has never been easier, even for the uninitiated.
The high-profile clientele may include youth icons like Alia Bhatt (who has turned investor recently) but StyleCracker is not just for the tech-savvy younger generations who swear by it. Having simultaneously invested in a strong physical presence through its night markets and shopping bazaars that are known to attract tens of thousands of shoppers, Walavalkar and Shah have ensured that it is the destination for women of all shapes, ages and sizes.
In a leisurely tête-à-tête, Walavalkar spills the beans on the latest wedding hacks, rubbing shoulders with the stars, cracking the code and bringing personal styling to the masses, a service that has over time — and as a rule — only been regarded as the preserve of the rich and the famous….
How did you get started in this profession?
I began my career with editorial styling at a magazine, and then I was part of the launch team at a fashion magazine, where I worked as a fashion editor for five years. After that I’ve styled celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Ranbir Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for campaigns, editorials and appearances. Post which I went on to do styling for films. I’ve styled Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor and Tabu, starting with Student of the Year (2012), and moving on to the likes of Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), Shandaar, Drishyam (both 2015), Kapoor & Sons and Dishoom (both 2016). I’ve been doing what I do for about 13 years now.
Celeb styling, editorials, bridal, film or ad shoots — your preferred genre and why?
I honestly prefer styling real people the most. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than helping someone figure out their sartorial needs and feel good about themselves.
Your start-up StyleCracker is regarded as the most successful Indian styling portal and one that led to a massification of style in the country. How did the idea take seed?
StyleCracker was found with a vision to make India stylish. When we were starting it, the idea was about taking styling and making it accessible to everyone — not just celebrities and influencers. Giving someone an all-rounded experience is our goal with the StyleCracker Box. Because at the end, it’s not just about the product, it’s about the journey and about reshaping the way people shop. We use innovative technology to collect all kinds of important data from our users so the end result is personalised and curated just for them.
Your company provides a 360-degree style solution from everyday wear to weddings….
You can pick various price points for a StyleCracker Box but when it comes to weddings, customers generally pick a customised box, for which they choose a budget that we work with. We also have StyleCracker Live, the blog, which further educates our users about all kind of trends for pretty much every kind of occasion and how to wear it.
How has fashion been influenced by the internet and social media?
Statistics show that 77 per cent of the customers say that social media is the main source of inspiration for the products they buy. From a customer perspective, it’s great to know what’s out there, but to know how to pick what’s right for you is the next step. Choice is not necessarily the best thing because it tends to make things confusing for the customer. Which is why you need an expert to guide you through what works for you. This is where the StyleCracker Box comes in. We combine technology and expert stylists to curate a personalised box of style for our customers. It’s hassle-free and the customer gets exactly what they want.
What service would you add on next?
Men’s and kids’ boxes are next on the cards. We’re currently focusing on the SC Box and giving our consumers a game-changing experience. Our customers trust us to transform their lives.
You recently got married (heartiest congratulations)…. Do you believe in wearing your wedding outfit again?
Yes I did, thank you! I’ll be wearing all my wedding outfits again. They were created to mix and match with other outfits and be easily styled and reinvented for any occasion. For the mehndi, Arpita Mehta made me a cami-tunic and sharara pants out of a Paithani sari, keeping in mind my Maharashtrian roots. For the haldi ceremony, I wore a lal paar Bengali sari. For the wedding, it was a handwoven Banarasi tissue saree with a zardozi embroidered blouse from Kresha Bajaj and a metallic, handwoven dupatta from Akaaro. Shehla Khan helped me embellish it. And finally, for the sangeet/party, I wore a Tarun Tahiliani lehnga.
Tips for trousseau shopping and the guest….
Wear things you are comfortable in and which most depicts you. You’re not going to enjoy the wedding if, for example, you’re wearing something so heavy that you can’t move. Apart from that, guests should remember not to overdress. Remember, you’re not the bride. Definitely highlight your assets with silhouettes that suit your frame. Elegance is key. For a bride shopping for her trousseau, make a list of all the potential occasions and smaller in-between functions you need a look for. Try and buy outfits that can be worn as separates later to create newer looks. Key essentials like nude wedges, a silk robe and metallic dupattas always come handy.
Destination wedding tips for the modern bride….
A destination wedding means you’ll have to carry your outfits in a suitcase and possibly on flight. So it’s important to pick lightweight fabrics for your outfits — they’re easy to carry and to wear. Make sure you carry your jewellery and outfit in your cabin suitcase (don’t check it in), you don’t want it getting lost in transit. And finally, make sure you carry a sewing kit, you never know what may need fixing.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like subtle, simple lines and clothes with a lot of character.
How would you dress to feel powerful?
It’s about how you feel within; and the way you dress should always complement that. It’s a state of mind. I feel powerful no matter what I wear.
Your view on fashion and luxury rentals….
Very honestly, I haven’t tried any yet. As long as they’re trustworthy and the quality and hygiene is under control I think it’s a great idea. I’d borrow from friends and family so this to me is an extension of that.
What are the brands that we can expect in the upcoming StyleCracker events?
We have three events set up for 2018 – The StyleCracker Night Market in Pune (January) and Mumbai (February), and The StyleCracker Borough in Mumbai (April). In Pune, expect State of Play, Omaana Jaipur, MyGlamm, Ruby’s Organics, Raw Pressery and many more. At the SC Night Market Mumbai, you will find Son of A Noble, Chambray & Co, The Linen Way, 1011 and Jajaabor, amongst others. And in April, you can check out the likes of Amisha Kothari, Ritu Jain Singh, Label Aamaal, Shillpa Purii, Label Eclat, Ennso, Dhaaga Handcrafts and others in Mumbai.
Which celeb has been your favourite to style and why?
Varun Dhawan – it’s got a lot to do with the person he is. He’s easy, trusting and very passionate. So when you work with him, you want to give your 1,000 per cent. He makes you want to.
Favourite trends this wedding season….
Lightweight couture, camisoles with shararas, tonal embellishments.
A secret you can divulge about a celeb that we don’t know probably….
Alia Bhatt is the most flexible human being I’ve ever met.
Biggest styling faux pas this season….
Socks with heels!
A simple tip/tweak to make any outfit stand out?
Bold lips, highlighter and mascara.
Go-to fashion blogs/Instagrams/bloggers?
ManRepeller, Love magazine, actor Shay Mitchell.
Maya Angelou, Daisaku Ikeda, Elon Musk.
When I worked with Gisele Bündchen on a magazine cover and being in a 100 Most Influential Fashion list recently. And when my ex-assistants have achievements, it makes me feel like a proud mother!
Zoë Kravitz, Brooklyn Beckham.
Bollywood film did you have the most fun styling?
Student of the Year.
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