Sky’s no limit

Tina Antoniades makes accessible and affordable a wide array of western outfits and accessories to young Indian women of all classes and is having fun doing it

Of Greek origin, Tina Antoniades grew up in London and spent a good part of her working life in the US. She is the creative director of Lulu & Sky — a premier fashion brand for all classes via an e-commerce site featuring clothing and accessories, catering for women under 30. “It’s a site that’s not class centric and caters to women from all walks of life. It’s a one-stopshop,” she says, for the women of India, especially Gen Next, who like to wear western outfits.

Antoniades has been instrumental in making the western outfits and accessories accessible both physically and financially to aspirational girls from India’s robust middle class. “The idea is to make brand price sensitive with aesthetics,” she sums up.

She has a clear idea of herself, her professional life and responsibilities. And that explains her enormous success in the last 30 years in the international fashion world. Apart from her own brand, Lulu & Sky, she has lent her expertise to as host of other brands.

In India since the last five years, she is instrumental in bringing tools she has gathered in her life to create a brand that’s trendy, price-driven, accessible and affordable. “My idea was to bring fast, trendy westernised style to the Indian market,” she says. It has been a successful journey, and Lulu & Sky is a big player in the e-commerce space.

She has been witness to the transformation of the Indian mar- ket in the fashion industry. India traditionally has been associated with a country with lightweight fabrics like silk and cotton. Now you get everything in India, all kinds of fabrics stitched on stateof-the-art computerised machines.

A free bird who has a way with words, she flits busily between London, Los Angeles, New York and New Delhi. She doesn’t like to talk about her personal life, beyond the fact that her partner happens to be an Indian: Ranjit Grewal, a successful entrepreneur. She doesn’t subscribe to marriage as a “label” that creates certain expectations, and has a narrow interpretation, as some kind of “ownership”. But for the record, she met him some six years ago. They take care of street dogs and are equestrians, their love for animals a binding force.

Life, for Antoniades, has been an interesting journey. She is from a Greek family who lived in Cyprus before they shifted to London in the early 1960s. Hers was a family of restaurateurs. At that point in time, Greek families were traditional, and marriages were arranged. She grew up in London. Things began to change. “You can’t go to a western society and be traditional…you want to become like your friends,” she remembers.

She studied art and fashion and was barely 21 when a fashion company sponsored her for an American green card. The fashion industry in the US was looking at Europe for trends, and trends are what determine fashion. She has two passports, that of the UK and the US. But identifies herself with “British” sensibilities. “The way I talk about things is in the British context,” she says.

A music, movies and food freak, she feels design, interior designing, acting, singing, and cooking — the whole lifestyle range — are “all in the same circle, all the same thing.They involve creativity.” She gives the example of the Bay City Rollers, Roxy Music, David Cassidy, George Michael, Sade — some of them her friends growing up. They were musicians, but also trendsetters and fashion icons.

As an artist, she feels that you have to know what people want, and you should be inspired by everything. It’s no surprise that she as the creative head indulges in a host of activities. “I’m a visual person, can be a designer, stylist or a photographer. There’s a vision in everything I do.” Brand creation is the outcome of the clarity of vision.

Antoniades talks in detail about the aspirations of people in the digitally connected world. “You become your own brand on Instagram and Facebook,” she says. There’s an element of projection. “They are not trying to be different, but more compatible to the people they are followed by,” she says pondering over the point. Awareness is a bit different, one gets feedback and reactions that shape future actions. “It’s about a reaction,” she says affirmatively.

She travels so much, has been on the move for most of her working life. Doesn’t she crave for a base? A home? “I’m a home bird. My idea of home is where the family is, where people who matter are.” And every place has its own pros and cons. She tries to align with the positive side of things and places. She ensures whether she’s in LA, New York, London or Delhi that her immediate surroundings are clutter-free, open and spacious.

In that sense, she’s a minimalist her space is a big room with a large window and high ceiling, without much stuff around. Creativity needs space to breathe.

A vegan since 2005, she makes her own food that includes almond milk. There’s an element of art in everything she does. To keep fit she does a “combination of everything” –walking, yoga, gyming. Antoniades loves tropical weather, beaches, the life of New York — cross the road to get to the nearest coffee shop — and London. But she can’t have all of it together.

She is making the most of what life has offered to her. And she has transformed many lives in the process..

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