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A Fashion World Of Imagination – An Interview with Designer VK Nagrani

Lock your cell phone away, disrobe, sink into a comfy couch, relax and have a drink. That’s the mentality menswear Vivek Nagrani has engrained into his new brick and mortar store, VK Nagrani. A collection of luxury yet functional menswear, VK Nagrani provides men with not only elegant and stylish wardrobe staples, but with an ultimate escape from the tiresome mass consumer way of shopping. 

Like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for men’s clothing and accessories, VK Nagrani’s unique retail space elevates the shopping experience from top to bottom, literally. Located in the heart of Nolita, guests are escorted downstairs to a specialty shop complete with a bar serving poisons of choice in mouth-blown glasses, plush arm chairs and even an outdoor putting green with a lounge for a gentleman’s club feel.

The environment is curated to stimulate the senses, provoke thought and create desire while setting the stage for a surreal shopping experience. Here, the guest is transported to a zen-like state and treated to supreme customer service with a VK Nagrani style expert curating a wardrobe of timeless and interchangeable looks.

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The News Whistle Q & A with Designer VK Nagrani 

Age: 44

Birthplace: Pune, India

Current: New York

Occupation: Men’s wear designer

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What is the funniest thing that happened to you this week?

A man on the subway was staring at me for 15 minutes and the finally approached me and asked me to sign his subway map. I signed it and he looked confused. He looks at me and says, “I thought you were Andy Garcia.”

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Favorite Movie? Why?

The context is very important here. Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory is one of them because it inspired the way in which I would eventually build my own brand. Like Mr. Wonka, I find myself frustrated with the world’s acceptance of mediocrity and often find myself wanting to wall myself up into my own world.

The Godfather, even number 3. Throughout the movie, one learns the key lessons in life. From friendship, family, business and abiding by a certain code. Everything you need to know as a man is illustrated in the film.

Casablanca, need I really have to explain this one? I mean, Humphrey Bogart, Rick’s Café and Ingrid Bergman should be enough.

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What’s the biggest risk you took in your life?

I failed at everything I thought I should do or what others felt I should be pursuing. So, I had to find the courage to do what I was meant to do and launch my own brand.

If I could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?

I would not change a thing because everything that has happened has made me who I am today. I like who I am.

Tell us your favorite joke?

My life.

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What is something most people do not know about you?

I never feel like I am doing enough.

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What the best piece of advice?

“A man’s presence should be felt never heard. When you walk into a room, people know you just stepped in. Not a word said or any loud clothing. Just energy.” My granddaddy said this to us when we were just youngsters.

When you walk into a room, your presence should be never felt nor heard. As for dating advice, I was a total failure, so I do not have much to offer here.

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Who is your favorite celebrity? And why?

I really do not like term “celebrity.” However, I do admire the likes of those that actually make the world a better place. I also have immense respect and admire true talent such as Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

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What is your strangest phobia or superstition?

I am petrified of not being able to do what I am meant to do. I always feel like time is running out and I still have so much to do. As for superstitions, I have realized that I have no control over anything except doing the best I can.

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Is there anything you’d like to promote or discuss?

I hope people understand that my job is not just about creating great clothing, but impacting the world around me in a positive way. I am driven more by passion than the pursuit of treasure.

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How would you describe your sense of style? Who are your influences?

My sense of style is very minimal or simplistic. I have enough complications in my life, so when it comes to clothing, I am very basic. However, it has to be the best.

I admire designers like Luciano Barbera and Yohji Yamamoto.

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How important is pop culture to you? Are you more of Johny Depp Wonka fan or a Gene Wilder Wonka fan?

Unfortunately, pop culture is canned and manufactured today. It is not organic. The media, networks, music labels jam bullshit down people’s throats. The artist’s talent, struggle, pain are all missing in today’s pop culture. Everyone seems to be asleep at the wheel.

I am a purist, Gene Wilder without a doubt. That is the real deal.

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One Walt Disney cartoon?

Pinocchio, perhaps because I can relate to living life with a big nose 🙂

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Name your favorite….

  1. Book: Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das
  2. Song: “Imagine”, John Lennon
  3. Meal: A great hamburger, medium rare, French fries and a Chateau Lafite
  4. Hotel: The House in Barbados
  5. Cologne: The Devil’s Blood or Inferno by VKNAGRANI

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What three items must you have with you at all times? Why?

Wallet, keys and phone.

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What are the essential wardrobe pieces for men?

Perfectly tailored navy suit, a white shirt with a great collar, fantastic pair of shoes and a great belt

I can be anywhere in the world and fit in. It is simple but extremely refined. It requires very little thought yet functions in almost any environment.

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Do you have a favorite sports team?

Today’s team sports seem rigged. There are very few true sportsman left.

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What was your worst fashion moment? High school

The best? My brother’s wedding in Marrakech – white dinner jacket, black trousers and a black bow tie. I almost felt like Bogart at Rick’s Café.

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Images Courtesy of VK Nagrani; Photos by Rocio Segura