30 Stories: Prabal Gurung

@prabalgurung Story by @thestorieshub

The world of Prabal Gurung is vast. He is a fashion designer, an activist, a cultural icon, a philanthropist, and an inspiration to many individuals around the world.

Prabal’s journey to the highest echelons of fashion is nothing short of a beautiful, and humbling story. Born in Singapore and raised in Nepal, Prabal was raised by his heroic single mother who encouraged him to pursue his wildest dreams. As a young boy who was constantly bullied and harassed in school, Prabal’s mother was his biggest source of strength, comfort, and inspiration.

Prabal found a home in New York City, where he could fulfill his ambitious dreams. He knew that taking a chance to study at Parsons was his decision and would live with the results if things didn’t work out. After his education at Parsons as well as his experiences at Donna Karan, Cynthia Rowley and Bill Blass, Prabal decided to launch his own label in 2009. Although 2009 was not the ideal climate to launch a fashion label because of the recession, Prabal adjusted by even collecting unemployment and downsizing his apartment.

Fast forward 10 years later, Prabal has created a luxury brand with a soul and purpose. His designs have been worn by the most influential women around the world including the former first lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, Zoe Saldana, Priyanka Chopra, The Duchess of Cambridge, Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker, Queen Rania of Jordan, Gigi Hadid, Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, Deepika Padukone, Gabrielle Union, Ashley Graham, Hikari Mori, Katy Perry to name a few. He also started the Shikshya Foundation Nepal in 2011, which provides comprehensive education to children in Nepal.

Bio: Prabal Gurung launched his collection in February 2009. He leads the brand with purpose and responsibility, choosing to manufacture locally in the garment district of New York City and partnering with artisans in his home country of Nepal. Follow Prabal @prabalgurung

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Prabal Gurung: A Cultural Icon

Prabal Gurung is a recognizable name in the fashion world. His success is even more remarkable when you consider that he is from Nepal where most people are encouraged to pursue careers in the sciences rather than the arts. I could only hope that his success gives everyone to believe in their talent and pursue the work they are passionate about.

At this year’s New York Fashion Week, Prabal launched his spring 2012 collection at the modern IAC building on Manhattan’s West Side to huge applause and press. Adam Glassman, the creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine was quoted: “Loved, loved, loved it. Super fresh and chic. He obviously worked very hard on it. Polished and well made.”

If one were to follow Prabal on Facebook or Twitter these days, you would see celebrities from Reese Witherspoon to Michelle Obama wearing clothes designed by him. Now I’ve started to think who has not worn his clothes yet.

The brand Prabal Gurung is strong and culturally iconic. His background is unique and I think they show in the eclectic designs of his clothes. He has attained a great amount of respect and press from the fashion industry and the mainstream media. We have not seen a fashion designer from Nepal take over the fashion world before as Prabal has done. This is a great accomplishment for Prabal and in which Nepalese everywhere can be proud that he represents one of the best qualities of Nepali culture: ambition and humility.

I don’t follow fashion religiously but I am more fascinated with personal brands. I’m extremely intrigued with how Prabal has established himself as a brand in the fashion industry and what he represents. I believe he has inspired a generation of young people and pushed the envelopes of a culture where a career in arts had almost always taken a backseat to a career in academics. It’s great to see Prabal pursue a career path that was different from the cultural norm.

In Nepal, there is still a cultural emphasis for students to pursue careers in the sciences more than the arts. Individuals whose talent resides in the arts and crafts can get lost and their potential never realized. I hope there will be other fashion designers from Nepal or individuals pursuing careers that would be different than the typical career paths.

Someday it should not even be news to see a Nepali person becoming a musician, a chef, an author or a fashion designer and make a living off of it. The ultimate measure of someone’s success should be their talent, work ethic and how much passion they have for their work. At the end of the day we are all trying to be happy or lead a meaningful or purposeful life. And if that means following a path not taken, then dare to be adventurous and you might even push a whole culture to follow in your footsteps like Prabal.