Why Falguni Shane Peacock Will Be The First Indian Label To Break Through In The West

Husband and wife fashion duo Falguni and Shane Peacock have presented their collections on major runways such as London and New York–and not just once. They’ve dressed A-listers from Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga and outfitted costumes for nearly 30 music videos including for Beyoncé. The red carpets at Cannes or the Met Gala are no strangers to their wares and they made fashion history in India as the first and only designers to ever shoot on the grounds of the Taj Mahal.

After nearly two decades in the business as one of India’s most respected fashion houses that melds the apex of artisanal Indian craftsmanship and boundary-pushing edge, the designers are returning to New York Fashion Week today–and this time, it’s different.

“We restarting our international career,” says Mr. Peacock during an interview from Bombay. “For us, September is a new start.”

The Peacocks’ fashion week iterations of the past have met success but have also included much trial and error, especially in trying to define their voice in the global market.

When they first embarked to present on a fashion capital catwalk the challenge was not design, but what foundation to lay towards house codes when speaking to an international consumer–codes which should be independent, but related to, their core brand identity which encompasses traits of adventure, elegance, and the love of music.

However, what makes the Peacocks stand out in a market where other Indian designers, such as the revered Sabyasachi (who not so long ago opened a store to much fanfare in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood), are also looking to make their marks?

It has everything to do with pop culture and embracing it with a crushing grip.

“Over the years I have worked with an array of artists on developing their careers globally by finding bridges to tell their stories through pop culture,” says Anjula Acharia, Founder and CEO of A-Series Investments & Management. Acharia is a known master of connecting India and the US, most notably establishing Priyanka Chopra Jonas as an international superstar.

“FSP is one of those brands who understand the cultural zeitgeist and grabs onto it because pop culture is part of their DNA. It’s not simply about global retail expansion with them, it’s more nuanced. They connect with the right cultural instigators and take a lead role in driving forward the cultural conversation. They sponsor Diwali events in New York, dress A-list celebrities and notables for Oscars events, or costume style icons such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Britney Spears. They’re a brand that I’ve watched make waves through the world and this NYFW show is an amplification of all of that,” Acharia says.

In the ultimate act of pop culture cred, the Peacocks are collaborating with Creative Director and mega-stylist, Law Roach, who they have brought on to creative direct the designers’ return to New York Fashion Week. Roach is known for his statement-making work with style icons such as Zendaya, Celine Dion, and Ariana Grande which have defined the vernacular of contemporary red carpet style. In 2021 he styled no less than 10 celebrities for the Met Gala red carpet.

This path the Peacocks are on is one which they have been etching out for over a decade and has its share of fits and starts.

“When we started showing internationally, the entire Indian design fraternity was completely focused on Indian wear. We wanted to stand out and be different in our approach to the global market,” says Ms. Peacock during the same interview. “It started with animal-related themes and prints since our name is Peacock.”

A prominent buyer from Harrod’s purchased that first animal-themed collection which signaled to designers to focus on growing their global audience. Although, the couple found that continuing to identify and define their voice was the true challenge.

After showing at Miami and LA fashion weeks and infusing more of India into the collections as part of the journey to establish their international identity, Mr. Peacock admits, “We still could not find our voice.” It wasn’t until their second London Fashion Week show that they started to discover who they are as a global brand which included explorations into details such as cutouts and texture.

It’s hardly a secret about the expansiveness of India’s bridal market which, according to the Economist, is estimated to be $130B in consumer spending per year. It also happens this market is one in which Falguni Shane Peacock is considered to be one of the top brands for brides according to Vogue India. The Peacocks’ loyal consumer and healthy business allowed them to continue to explore their global identity through its evolution because of this stability of their core business in India.

“We were very lucky in our initial stages to have direct dealings with customers, to understand whether the fit was right, whether the color was right, whether we could actually give them what we designed on sketch. So we crossed a lot of hurdles there,” says Mr. Peacock. It also helped that Ms. Peacock’s background is in business and advertising which afforded the couple the commerce-slash-creative checks and balances needed for a fashion business to stand strong.

“It was always about understanding how to run a business and performing as a brand, not necessarily about design, and then scaling up from that,” says Ms. Peacock. Today, they have nearly 850 employees from executives, to artisans, to administration which bring Falguni Shane Peacock to life every day.

While a thriving business, a successful creative partnership, and a worldwide customer base seem to have come easy to the couple, Mr. Peacock is as outspoken about the lows as he is about the highs and how both translate into success.

“To anyone who’s reading this interview, I would like you to know that in 2015 I went into a depression phase and that I came out of it. I want people to understand that these things are not the end of the world. Things change,” he shares. “As a brand and as a couple, Falguni and myself understood this and decided to transform it into something strong.”

After years of fine-tuning who they are on the global stage, it’s evident the voice the Peacocks will present on the runway in New York today, and that voice is strength.

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