Global Young Designer: Ahluwalia

Global Young Designer: Ahluwalia

Meet London-based Priya Ahluwalia, the Indian-Nigerian designer putting community back in fashion.

This article appears in Volume 32: Homegrown.

menswear designer Priya Ahluwalia’s eponymous
brand, Ahluwalia, is a sartorial celebration of place, personage
and multiculturalism. Growing up with a Punjabi mother and a
Nigerian father in south-west London in the 1990s, Ahluwalia’s
formative years were peppered with regular family trips to Lagos
and Panipat, a city just north of Delhi.

Graduating from the University of Westminster in 2018 with a
Masters in Menswear, Ahluwalia gained recognition with her debut
SS19 collection and book, Sweet Lassi. Since then, the brand has
become one of the most anticipated collections at London Fashion

As a business, Ahluwalia is dedicated to championing responsible
sourcing and manufacturing techniques. Capturing a certain
nostalgia (note the hallmark patchwork technique), its collections
are composed of vintage, recycled and deadstock textiles.

Ahluwalia was also a 2020 winner of the highly coveted
LVMH Prize – an award that was ultimately shared across an octet of
finalists (including fellow London-based designers Supriya Lele,
Nicholas Daley and British- Bulgarian duo Chopova Lowena) due to
the coronavrius pandemic – nodding to the young designer’s rising
star that looks set to shoot ever higher.

You’re based in London and of Indian-Nigerian heritage. How
does your background inform both your sense of self and your

Being raised around different cultures has influenced my tastes
across music, film and art. I love learning about global history as
well as my own heritage, both of which guide my research. They
filter into everything I do. Within fashion design and
craftsmanship, there’s so much that has come before me – I think
it’s really important that I honour it while always looking

As an eco-conscious designer, how do you find a balance between
creating and contributing to the fashion industry’s waste

By having my own business and doing it all on my own terms –
using deadstock alongside organic and recycled materials – I can
create garments in the most positive way possible. If I can try to
disrupt the supply chain, it might inspire others to follow

How do you source your deadstock?

I work with a lot of wholesalers and mills to find fabrics and
deadstock materials. I send out emails periodically to find out
what suppliers have and also travel around the UK looking for gems.
The vintage and deadstock garments and textiles that I find in this
way are generally used as my main source of material. This is
supported by plenty of organic or recycled fabrics, which means
that each set of garments I make is unique.

What do you listen to while you work?

In the studio with the team we listen to music – the genre is
always changing. Of late, it’s been a lot of Burna Boy, Snoh
Aalegra and Pop Smoke. By myself, it’s podcasts or audiobooks; I
recently relistened to The Kite Runner.

Tell us about your latest book, Jalebi.

Jalebi is a photography tome that was shot by Laurence Ellis,
with styling from Riccardo Maria Chiacchio, casting by Troy Casting
and art direction by Jaime Perlman. The book explores Southall,
where I visited regularly as a child, and features imagined
scenarios inspired by childhood memories as well as more
documentary-style images. You’ll also find family photos from the
Ahluwalia archive and an interview with my maternal nana.

What’s so special about Southall?

It’s the biggest Punjabi community in the UK, so it’s full of
nuances and hybrids that happen when two cultures come together.
It’s such a fun and lively area.

What does winning the 2020 LVMH Prize – and sharing it with
seven other designers – mean to you?

It was such an honour to even be in the competition; I’ve been
following it since its inception. I was looking forward to meeting
the judges but I think sharing the prize was a really supportive

Priya’s Pocket Guide to Southall, London


There are so many great places to eat in Southall. I love
ordering traditional chaat (an Indian street food) in Rita’s Curry
and would recommend getting some hot and fresh jalebi (a
sugary, deep-fried sweet) from Jalebi


Try a fresh lassi from Moti Mahal or, if you have a really sweet tooth,
Chandni Chowk’s falooda (a drink-cum-dessert made of vermicelli
noodles and ice cream, blended with seeds, nuts, rose and khus


Southall is such a vibrant area, so the first thing I’d suggest
you “do” on arrival is take it all in, simply by people-watching
and window-shopping. When it comes to actual shopping, the bazaars
of Southall Market are full of interesting and obscure things.


There are plenty of places you can get reasonably priced,
custom-made pieces. I love this because tailor-made clothing always
feels more precious and you’re more likely to cherish it. My family
and I have often been to Monga’s and Omega.

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