Eshan Style

February 6, 2013 , by Bibek Bhandari, Leave your thoughts
Eshan Style » My Dreams Mag
Eshan Kali is the new name in London’s fashion circuit. As a model, he has been spotted during the London Fashion Week, and soon, as a menswear designer, he is set to showcase his premier collection in London soon.

As we walk towards Oxford Circus from Great Titchfield Street, we are still talking about fashion and style. A two-hour conversation solely on the same subject with Eshan Kali, an upcoming designer and model, just didn’t seem to end.

We immerse in the sea of stylish shoppers hopping shop to shop in the cluster of clothing companies that line up London’s shopping district.

“So where do you buy your clothes?” I ask the menswear designer hoping that he would spill his shopping secret.

“I normally don’t tell anyone,” he laughs. He was subtle, yet serious. He wasn’t telling me.

“There are so many shops in London,” he settles for a vague answer. “So many underground shops …”

Eshan Kali

The almost six-feet, well-built British-Nepalese is dressed sporty. At a first glance, his style looks normal, something that isn’t particularly striking: black shorts, a blue shirt buttoned up to his neck layered with a black t-shirt, Air Jordan 7 Retro sneakers and the Eshan Kali signature fedora hat.

But when you decode his style, this 24-year-old likes to make a statement.

“I modified my Jordan,” he says showing the metallic spikes he added to his hi-top sneakers.

“You know these shorts,” he looks at them. He sounds like a child talking about his favourite toy. It’s by Comme des Garçons, a Japanese clothing label. Kali digs for their designs and apparels.

“I waited from 3 am until 10 am to get this,” Kali says humbly as he bursts into laughter. “It’s worth it.”

He also likes to flaunt his collection in his closet. Kali proudly states that there are only two pieces of the shorts he was wearing that day.

“Will. i. am has the other,” he smirks saying that he shares  the outfit with the Black Eyed Peas member.

The young designer says that buying clothes —even though if waiting for hours—is a treat for himself. It’s like a luxurious splurge after spending hours inside the studio working on his label Eshan Kali.

But the designer-mind doesn’t seem to stop working. Shopping for him is a learning experience.

“I look at the stitches, pockets, finishing and fabric…maybe I could tweak this a bit,” he mumbles thinking of all the possibilities. He says he could use a different fabric, add layers and perhaps give an Eshan Kali touch.

“It’s like,” he pauses to think of a word.

“A puzzle,” he snaps his fingers, adding, “It’s like building something new, coming up with a new design.”


Kali’s self-named label Eshan Kali represents and reflects the designer’s personality. It’s sporty with a touch of tribal element, he says about his designs.

“Fashion is all about being yourself,” he shares his philosophy.

Growing up in Nepal in the 90s, Kali wasn’t introduced to any brands or fashion labels. He followed the “hip-hop and punk culture” and asked his parents to bring apparels and accessories when they travelled abroad.

Though not a fashion enthusiast, he wanted to distinguish himself from the crowd.

And through his designs, that is exactly what Kali is doing in London.

While his windcheater jacket seems like a regular design, the designer has played with a striking shade of colour to add an extra factor. In his trousers, he has chosen a colour contrast that makes it pop out. But his t-shirt steals the show. It looks like a refined version of a sports t-shirt, only that it is a bit stretched in length and its kimono-styled sleeves comes right up to the elbows. Here too, the young designer brings in the colour pattern. And in all of these designs, his choice of colour is bold: bright orange.

Eshan Kali

The designer likes to be daring, and over time his attitude has reflected in his brand. His new collection, in his words, is going to be “one step bolder and better than before.”

Kali is going to add new elements in his creation and experiment with rubber. If successful, his latest t-shirt collection will have “the rubbery spike-effect” on the sleeves.

“Those are the kind of things I’m looking into,” Kali tells me about his work. “But it takes time.”

And designing is about a lot of trial and error—sketching until satisfied, stitching until it is right, creating and recreating the same creation multiple times until perfection.

Kali knows this from experience. For his first collection, he tried to play with drapes, a new territory for him. He took his inspiration from the honey hunters of Nepal and their drapes. An inquisitive mind trying to be innovative, the young designer also wanted to add some mountaineering element. It was his idea of bringing Nepaliness to his design instead of using conventional Nepali prototypes like the Dhaka fabric.

Neon prints, windproof fabric with drapes attached like a bag to the shirt: interesting concept on paper. But when the shirt came back from the factory, it was a designer’s doomsday.

“It was horribly wrong,” Kali says.

So he tweaked it, played around and spent hours to make that shirt accurate.

He shakes his head, stays calms for a second, and in a sudden burst of excitement remarks, “As long as you are pleased with what you’re putting forward to the crowd, it’s all good.”

“Everything is right in fashion,” he makes a solid statement.

But unlike other designers, Kali does not showcase his works at the annual fashion shows. According to him, the bi-annual fashion weeks are “routine and repetitive.”

He wants to be like Aitor Thorup, the Argentinean-born designer who showcases his creativity through sketches, who does selective shows but is significant and successful in the fashion circuit.

For now, Kali is making an effort to promote his label at various rap and grime events and also associating with artists of those musical genres. Lately, he designed a hoodie for American rapper Dumbfoundead.

“It’s moments like this, when you are dealing with these people, that really makes me happy,” an elated Kali says. “That’s my ultimate goal.”


Kali’s menswear collection cannot be spotted on the runway, yet. However, the designer has donned other fashion labels in the runway.

Almost six-feet tall, chiselled face with a Mongolian mien, Kali is also a model.

“It happened by fluke,” he says as if he were still surprised.

Kali’s nature is as such: He is jovial and doesn’t mind mocking himself. He laughs too often as he talks about himself.

“I didn’t even think I could be a model.”

It was his designer friend JC Adams who approached Kali to model for Ape Apparel, a clothing line highly inspired by ape characters.

After Ape Apparels, when he realised he could give modelling a serious thought, Kali went for Ozwald Boateng’s casting call.

The British designer of Ghanaian descent known for his classic tailoring told Kali to give him a “confident walk.”

“The next thing,” Kali sounds excited sharing one of his best moments, “I get a text saying ‘You’ve been hand-selected by Ozwald.’”

Kali still seems startled as he grabs his iPhone, perhaps enacting the same expression when he read that text message.

Ehsan Kali

Practise sessions and photo shoots followed to the finale at the London Fashion Week 2010. Kali confidently walked for Boateng’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection sporting a white fitted tank top tucked inside the classic tailored mustard trousers.

“I was telling myself to focus,” he tells me when asked if his eyes were trying to spot anyone. “I later found Michelle Williams and Kanye West were there.”

Today he is comfortable walking on the runway. Having worked for names like Boateng and contemporary British designer T. Lipop, he speaks casually of the profession, which he says complements him as a designer.

At one of his photo shoots, though he turned up fashionably late, he didn’t waste any time. The designer, who was the model that moment, self-coordinated his style and posed for the camera like a pro, throwing some suggestions.

Kali says modelling has helped him understand how to present the clothes he is wearing, which as a designer, he adds, is helpful.

“It’s about the entire look,” he references to the look, the clothes and the appeal.

However, he does not want to invest much effort on modelling. Kali wants to focus on his designs and invest extra effort on them to make sure he does “something out of the box.”

“Modelling,” he jokes, “just adds some extra quid to live up to the London lifestyle.”


In 2005, 17-year-old Kali landed in London with his parents. Though he says he had a sense of style, Kali never intended to become a fashion designer.

At Plumstead Manor/Negus School, he enrolled for business and economics but later changed to photography and graphic design.

Graphic design, though creative, he thought it would require a lot of deskwork. So Kali mulled over studying fashion. He enrolled for it. He liked it.

“I didn’t even know how to sketch,” says a modest Kali.

He isn’t even shy to accept his flaws: “I slept through all my art classes in Nepal. I didn’t know I was this creative.”

Before plunging into the creative field to pursuing fashion at the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom, Kali worked for minimum wage at a salad factory and later moved to Morrisons supermarket. For someone who had never worked in Nepal, the young teenager valued time, money and work.

Meanwhile, he was sketching and sewing during spare time. All he wanted to do then was to design a dress. His interest in women’s fashion was palpable.

For the London College of Fashion’s Boys in Fashion workshop, Kali fulfilled his wish: He designed a summery satin dress.

“Oh,” he gasps before responding. “It was horrible.”

Quietly, Kali then packed his desire of designing women’s wear and followed the advice from his friends and tutors. He focused on menswear instead.

“Thank God Prabal Gurung didn’t do menswear,” he jokes referring to the New York-based Nepali fashion designer who has dressed the likes of US First Lady Michelle Obama, television queen Oprah Winfrey and actress Demi Moore.

For sometime the conversation revolved around Gurung. Kali refers back and forth to Gurung’s collections and designs.

“Well, I’m going to do it all in menswear,” he talks about reaching new heights in fashion.

With his sports fashion collection, Kali has found his niche. His inspiration comes from the place where he interned.

At London’s Year Zero fashion label, Kali was stirred by their “neon punk style and crazy design.”

“They really dare,” says Kali of the label with fans like musicians Mika, Pink and Beyoncé. “That’s what I like about it.”

In his personal designs too, Kali has dared to incorporate some of the unconventional elements—like the rubber spikes in his upcoming collection.

“You got to think outside the box,” Kali says about being the unconventional prototype and setting oneself apart in the sea of up and coming designers.

“You got to be way ahead of time,” tells a visionary and well-planned Kali.

Eshan Kali

In about three years time, Kali has planned and climbed his ladder in the designing field. Despite being slammed for his designs in the initial phase and stereotyping his profession as “gay,” the 24-year-old continued his pursuit of grooming himself and others.

All this time, he has played with his passion. He realises that fashion designing is not only about designing. From sketching to sewing and marketing of his label to modelling, Kali has engaged himself into a profession he wasn’t even interested in.

An interest proliferated into a passion, which is now his profession.

“If you want to do fashion, you got to have passion,” Kali says of what keeps him going.

“The way I just dared to do new things and be myself—that has made a difference,” says the young designer dashing into a sea of stylishly clad crowd at Oxford Circus, who might one day be donning the Eshan Kali label.

Photo: Matthew Coughlan

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