Featured image: Ajaypal Singh
Fashion and Lifestyle journalist Latifa Akhtar launches a new series to shine a spotlight on South Asian creatives in the fashion industry. First up, Latifa speaks to Ajyapal ‘Ajay’ Singh on their unusual journey into the industry.
Many people know what they want to be from a young age, influenced by the books they read growing up to the characters in their favourite TV shows, but what sticks out the most is often the influence of parents. And for many immigrant parents, a career for their children is often focused on traditional jobs that guarantee the best income and best lifestyle.
This is something London-born Ajay Singh can relate to, who originally graduated with a BSc in product design. Now a fashion stylist for Christian Dior, Singh has successfully built himself a career in fashion from a different background than he originally planned. We speak to him to find out more.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m a multidisciplinary creative in fashion and a graduate within BSc Product design and MA in Fashion styling, creative direction and digital content. I’m currently working as a stylist for a luxury brand as well as freelance in the fields of styling, PR, events, production, social media and photography.
How did you get into fashion?
I’ve always been surrounded by creatives within the fashion field growing up and was always intrigued on how certain roles were executed and what it took to create content. This led me onto shadowing numerous friends within the industry and assisting them whilst still studying and working as CAD designer within the automotive industry. I think it wasn’t until my last couple years in my undergrad where I lost love for the engineering world and was always motivated to pursue a career in fashion. After a couple months I finally took the decision to step away from the automotive world and leap into fashion and after numerous applications and interviews I scored my first luxury fashion role as a stylist at Dior.
What made you become a fashion stylist?
I’ve always gravitated towards fashion because of my granddad, who had a classic but luxury aesthetic when it came to clothes. This being the start of my interest, it developed on how I dressed from young then eventually growing up and being surrounded by many influences and creatives, my style developed into high end street aesthetic. From this I grew more interested in the world of creative direction and styling which led me to my career. But people need to understand being a stylist it’s more than just putting the clothes on. A lot of preparation and admin work is involved to execute the project to the best of quality.
What steps did you take to become a stylist and did you face any hardships?
The steps taken to become a stylist involved a lot of shadowing and assistance work which was mostly freelance. And from this I built the knowledge of many trends and styles. Regarding hardships, I think everyone faces this when starting a journey but if you believe in your work and yourself anything is possible.
If you have any inspirations in fashion, who are they?
My inspirations within the industry would be the likes of Hiroshi Fujiwara, Matthew Williams, Samuel Ross, the late Virgil Abloh, Grace Wales Bonner and Miyake Kazumaru.
What advice to your younger self and to those who want to break into the industry?
If you have a passion for something, pursue it. It’s never too late to start. There will be many people around you, discouraging you to not pursue this which is common in South Asian families. They believe the only way to succeed is to become a doctor or lawyer as the typical stereotype, but you will be faced with many obstacles but with dedication and time you will progress and achieve great rewards.
Find out more of Ajay’s work over on Instagram @a__sengh.