Komal Pandey: Takes courage to be in fashion

It was eight years ago that Komal Pandey began taking outfit-of-the-day pictures of herself on her mobile phone, in her canteen of New Delhi’s Shahid Bhagat Singh College. “That phone had a very bad camera,” she cringes. Today, experience and a better phone camera have earned her 1.2 million followers on Instagram, as she nurtures a feed of beautiful well-curated pictures and videos. “My father used to work at NIFT, and had an insight into fashion. So, I realised soon enough that if you have to do something unconventional like fashion, you have to be the best, not mediocre. Especially, if you from a lower middle-class family, where the aim is to become a CA, or engineer. You need courage to do this.”

Surprisingly, and honestly, Pandey, 26, tells us that since she had to repeat a year in college—a bad relationship led her to ignore academics—she used the time to start a fashion blog. But she realised early on, that she wasn’t a good writer. “What I lacked in writing skills, I made up in the knack for putting looks together and making videos.” She worked for a web portal for a while, and in 2017, went solo on Instagram and YouTube, where she earned 80k subscribers in the first week. “Video was just starting to become a viable option then, so I knew I had to tap into it, and be in the first wave of video creators.”

Komal Pandey

The rest is now Instagram history. Pandey dabbled in beauty and comedy before realising that fashion was her forte. “I didn’t want to be the jack of all trades, master of none. I wanted to do one thing and be good at it.” Her videos reflect this passion. The content creator, with her ultra chic bob, shows how an outfit comes together from zero to 100, in beautifully shot transition videos. The make-up is flawless, the outfits are well-thought out. “Who you see now, is exactly me. People stop me in the streets and say ‘oh, you look exactly like you do on Instagram’. That’s a big compliment.”

But being authentic has brought along criticism too. Some find her perfection hard to relate to, and others are upset that she shows too much skin—”I am asked, ‘why are you always in underwear?'”. She doesn’t care. She had made her peace with her process. “I come from a place where I want to show you the look from beginning to end. I start the video in my underwear, and gradually move from there. But I got so much flak for showing skin, that I said, ‘Okay, I hear you.’ And I did a series on modest fits to demonstrate how you can look sexy without showing leg, cleavage or arms. But I don’t want to entertain the thought that you can only wear something if you are a certain size.”

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