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A lawyer by education, and a fashionista by choice, Shreya Kalra redefines the limits of what an education helps you accomplish. Money, fame, name? Sure, but for the truly fortunate, an education helps overcome their fears to discover their true calling.
Graduating from the School of Law at Christ University in Bangalore (with an interest in human rights law), Kalra is behind the For the Love of Fashion and Other Things blog, and has been featured in Cosmopolitan and Elle India. In this e-mail interview with Bar & Bench’s Vasudha Misra, Kalra talks about her journey from law student to an expert in haute couture.
Vasudha Misra: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Shreya Kalra: I’m a 27 year old erstwhile lawyer and full-time fashion blogger. From boarding school to law school, the journey was smooth but it’s really law school that gave me the honest to goodness reality check about what I would want to do with my life professionally.
So while my keen interest in human rights got me through law school, a simultaneous obsession with everything fashion, and ardent reading and writing ways got me to start my fashion blog in the third year of law school.
VM: Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
SK: Through high school, like almost everyone else, I had the big, fat “What do I want to do with my life” conundrum. I was split between pursuing journalism or studying law and incidentally as I got through Christ, I cleared quite a few English and Journalism courses at Delhi University. But I was quite intent on going to Bangalore.
My fixation with law came from a crazy amount of interest in matters of public interest and human rights and also, international law (humanitarian law, to be precise).
VM: How were you as a law student?
SK: In terms of academics, I was an above average student. Not the most phenomenal grades but every subject that appealed to me (and my internships) stood testimony to the fact that I was really passionate about a few things – Gender and law, disability law etc).
VM: Has your degree in law helped you in any way?
SK: There is no absolutely obvious connection between what I studied at law school to what I do in fashion. However, largely in terms of perspective on my writing, it definitely widened my horizons to understand the grey areas on a lot of issues, and to understand that there can be more than one correct answer to some questions. And the exposure that law school gives you is, in my opinion, unmatched and will always in some way or the other impact your understanding of a lot of national and international issues.
VM: Tell us a little bit about your foray into fashion blogging.
Shreya Kalra: I started my fashion blog at a time when there were three fashion bloggers in all of India (and one in Bangalore) and the international fashion bloggers held a lot of interest for me. I was a fan of The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman.
I started my blog to document my love for fashion, writing and almost any other thing that caught my fancy. While my website, ideas, aesthetics have evolved, I’m quite happy to report that my blog is still my personal love for aspects of fashion, detailed heart-felt writing and other interesting things.
VM: How would you describe a typical working day?
Shreya Kalra: A typical working day begins at the crack of dawn since early mornings are ideal for shooting outdoors (unless you’re going for a different light altogether), a lot of emails and a lot of phone calls through the day with PR personnel and teams of the different labels.
Then there are physical meetings sometimes, and of course trying to to keep up with everything on the internet and begin the writing process for a post. Sometimes, I attend events although honestly, that is my least favourite part.
VM: There are several lawyers who moonlight as artists, bakers, bloggers. Why did you feel the need to make the switch full-time, and what gave you the confidence to do it?
Shreya Kalra: I was moonlighting for the longest time till the point I realised that I could not have my feet in both the boats. It had been four years of the double agent life and I was considering going to Singapore for my LLM when it finally dawned upon me that this is what I wanted to do forever. The confidence came from my family and friends who supported me and never for a second doubted my decision.
VM: Is it an exciting time to be a fashion blogger?
Shreya Kalra: It is an exciting time in general to be associated with technology and digital media to be precise. Blogging is now spanning across all mediums and we are witnessing a spurt of what is called ‘micro blogging’ on portals like Instagram.
While I continue to be old school and still work religiously towards the content and photography for my website, the opportunities in general are never ending. Like I always say, there is enough of a space for everyone but there is no place for cookie cutter fashion bloggers (at least in the long term). Hopefully, everything will bring something new to the table.
VM: Are there any misconceptions about being a fashion writer?
Shreya Kalra: Fashion is as serious as any other field of study and work. There are universities across the world dishing out the best kind of course materials and internships for students to study what is a beautiful, dynamic field. Fashion is as light or serious as you make it out to be.
As someone who didn’t study design, there is a lot of appeal that studying the academic aspects, trends, designer biographies, their best works, evolution of fashion etc, hold for me. As a writer, my work is just as research intensive as any other writer from any other genre. It is not about writing pretty fluff and just talking about what celebrities wore what.
It will be a while before the general public understands that fashion is a lot more than just putting an outfit together and fashion blogging is definitely a lot more than just an ‘Outfit of the Day’ or an #OOTD.
VM: What’s next?
Shreya Kalra: I can think of a lot of micro goals like redesigning my website, trying out different styles of photography and design for my shoots, working with more international labels.
VM: Any career advice for young aspirants looking to follow in your footsteps?
Shreya Kalra: It’s never too late. Your education will never go to waste. Two key things that I’ve learned over time. If I ever want to, I can always utilize my degree and find a way to work with human rights law. So if that is something that stops you, don’t let it. Also, hard work is the only way. If anything, you will probably be working twice as hard as people who studied this to make a living.