Designer Bibhu Mohapatra Shares The Influence His Culture Has On His Work


Bibhu Mohapatra, Creative Director & Founder, Bibhu Mohapatra

Fashinnovation, a global platform that connects the fashion industry via entrepreneurship, sustainability, technology and innovation, diversity, and inclusion, hosted their 6th Worldwide Talks live from Spring Studios in New York City on Feb. 3. 

The speakers included designer Nicole Miller, Deputy Editor of both Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Saudi Jessica Michault, and many CEOs, journalists, models, and other industry experts. 

The Urban Watch sat in on the discussion, which spotlighted luxury-womenswear designer Bibhu Mohapatra. Bibhu Mohapatra signed his first licensing deal in 2014, and his collection is currently sold at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The conversation was led by Global Editor-In-Chief of Refinery 29 Simone Oliver. Oliver is mostly known for her work in identifying and leading underrepresented groups and building media partnerships through the lens of culture, identity, and lifestyle.

The discussion focused on how Mohapatra finds his greatest influence from his deep-rooted Indian cultural heritage. 

All my life I was surrounded by incredible crafts, and I think of it as an advantage,” the designer said.  “My mom had beautiful panels she made when she was young, and those mixed colors are still in my mind as a language. I learned about motorcycles from my dad, I learned from him how things work and I’m very grateful for that,” he explained.

He continued, “I was born into it: colors, garments, fabrics, and my roots were always very close to me, as a support system. So, when I’m creating something, my head is shaped by culture: colors, linens, the mixes.” 

When asked what traits he thinks a good leader must possess, he said, “To be a good leader, you have to be adaptable to situations, you have to be respectful to your team, and also reduce the distance with them, but at the same time, inspire them and be inspired by them, and don’t be afraid to express gratitude.”

The designer used his leadership skills when the pandemic forced the entire fashion industry to pivot and find new ways to be successful. 

Mohapatra said that the pandemic shifted the industry for many but what kept him grounded was his community of friends, fellow business owners, and the younger generation of innovators. 

In his final words, Mohapatra talked about his lasting impact on the industry. “If I can inspire one person to be on this framework: I’m happy,” he said.

6th Worldwide Talks relied on the support of brands and institutions, including Spring Studios, Bluesign, LIM College, Parsons School of Fashion, FIT New York, and many more.

Since 2018, Fashinnovation hosted over 500 of fashion’s leading innovators to audiences representing 120 countries. Respected voices like Diane Von Furstenberg, Susan Rockefeller, Kenneth Cole, Julie Gilhart, Fern Mallis, Steve Aoki, Steve Madden, Rachel Zoe, Donna Karan, Tonne Goodman, Coco Rocha, Oskar Metsavaht, Mara Hoffman, Miroslava Duma, and many more have shared knowledge through the platform.

Through these global conversations, Fashinnovation aims to ignite revolutionary actions and change across the fashion industry. The platform crosses boundaries and amplifies topics including sustainable development goals, social impact, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, connectivity, and new technologies all seen through the lens of innovation.

Watch the complete Worldwide Talks broadcast here. 

Edited by Demi Vitkute.

London Kasmir

London Kasmir is an LA-Based TV Personality & Content Creator. She founded and produced her virtual talk show Let’s Talk Life, which features and spotlights Black entrepreneurs and creatives. Let’s Talk Life is available on all media platforms including but not limited to iHeart Media, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, and more.

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