Taranjit (Taran) Cheema recently had her collection grace the runaways of Vancouver Fashion Week 2014. This Canadian-born designer, has a strong eye for colors and graphics while exploring mix media. Regardless, Taranjit always strives to create unique and inspirational pieces. From New York to Vancouver, this fashionista is currently working on launching her latest collection, “DESH” in S/S 2015.


Give us your “Elevator Pitch” – A snap shot of who you are, what you do, and what we should know about you?

I am an Indian Canadian born Fashion Designer that is striving to build a company based on giving back. I am passionate about different causes and wish to bring awareness and support with the creative platform I have been given. I have a strong eye for color and textiles and always use my vibrant culture as inspiration. I believe that being creative is taking risk and developing something unique and un-traditional, hence you will never see a basic tee-shirt or pants coming from my collections!

Tell us about the path you took to get to where you are today.

It all started at a very young age. I was always fascinated by anything that came to being creative. I was brought up in a big household with 25 family members under one roof. Most of which were women, my aunts and mom would sit at the sewing machine in the kitchen and sew up garments. I would quickly run around and collect all the big scraps of fabric and begin hand sewing little dresses for my Barbie dolls and teddy bears! It wasn’t until late senior year in High School I really pursued my passion for fashion. From there I hopped on a plane to NYC and attended Parsons the New School for Design for a rigorous 4 year BFA program in Fashion Design.

Attending school in NYC opened my eyes to all angles of the fashion industry. I had the opportunity to intern for high-end companies such as Stella McCartney, DVF and Donna Karan. I graduated in 2013, and upon graduating I was selected to showcase my designs at the prestigious Parsons Benefit Gala and 560 Exhibition.

When I moved back to Vancouver in August 2013, I was approached by Jamal to showcase my designs in Vancouver Fashion Week! Now, I have just debuted my second collection, ‘DESH’  at Vancouver Fashion Week, which was inspired by the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

KUNIOO | www.kunioo.com

What advice would you give young South Asian women wanting to so what you do?

Do it! Get out there, and show case the talent you have, and do it as soon as you can. Also take the opportunity to be different, bold and creative, think outside of the box, there is so much more to fashion than Sari’s and Suits (as gorgeous as they are!!) So, yah for all those young South Asian women, my advice to you as an Indian fashion designer is to be creative, different and fearless!

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How important is it to you to make South Asian women feel empowered? What do you do to help South Asian women feel empowered?

I love this question!!

It is soooooo important that South Asian women feel empowered! As South Asian women, we are told to be quiet and respect the men in our families, but it is so important for South Asian women to know that their voice shouldn’t be lost, and they are just as equal and important as the South Asian men. I think as South Asian women we are told, “go to school, get a degree and get married,” But I would encourage South Asian women to go get that degree and go chase your goals and dreams. It is so important for girls in the South Asian community to know they have more options than getting married.

The rape incident of two sisters in India that happened last May, really stroke a nerve with me. It’s surprising how many girls think they can not say anything, and can not speak up for wrongful actions that acted upon them, because they are scared of getting shunned for having a voice.  This inspired me to start a graphic top launch (still in progress) to help raise awareness and to help promote young girls to use their voice! It’s the greatest tool we have, and as South Asian women we need to use it more.

What is your personal motto or mission statement?

My personal motto while creating something is to always go with the crazier option. Because I can guarantee there is someone out there that is going with the simple and safest option, so why not be different, right?


Besides your work, what are you passionate about?

I am very passionate about creating social change whenever possible, I take full advantage of my voice and sharing my opinions. If I didn’t become a designer I would probably try to work for different non-profit organizations or charities. Giving back is extremely important to me and most of the time ends up being the passion behind my collections.

Where can one find you on your days off?

Usually on my days off you can find me at home, either baking away in the kitchen or outside painting in the sun. I also love walking around and exploring different neighborhoods and taking advantage of my camera.

Connect with Taranjit Cheema via Twitter @tarankcheema Instagram @tarankcheema or her website www.taranjitcheema.com

Runway images from SS15 VFW available here