The man about town shares his style secrets!
By Ashima Sethi
Charismatic hospitality veteran Rajat Bhatia hails from India’s capital city of New Delhi, which he is quick to inform me is home to the renowned National Institute of Fashion Technology. Speaking candidly about his upbringing he tells me, “I was fortunate to grow up in a tight-knit family, pun intended, which had an immense love for food, travel, and making friends who eventually meant more than family.”
A hotel management graduate, Rajat started his professional journey in Hong Kong and has not looked back since. He is currently working in a leadership role for a cluster of flagship hotels within Bangkok and loves his work as it allows him to interact directly with his guests and his peers. “I consider myself an urban nomad,” says Rajat. “I have always been inclined and motivated by living in, and beyond, big cities. It’s how I draw inspiration for my eye for fashion!”
As he speaks, it’s clear that fashion plays a significant role in Rajat’s self-expression. “I read somewhere that in a world where you can be anything, it’s important to be yourself. I don’t think there’s another medium that allows an individual to express themselves so autonomously. It’s where you can be you, but where you can also influence others too.” So how would Rajat describe his style? “It’s more evolutionary than stationary!” he explains.
“I may be a latecomer when it comes to selecting a style, but I firmly believe that old is gold and by that I mean vintage. I don’t wish to corner ‘cool,’ I wish to stay in the middle, a bit careless and rebellious. Truth is, fashion designers are always going back to what made their brands original, whether it be Gucci, Versace, or even Chanel. For example, if I don my favourite, handcrafted vintage Levi’s with a ribbed vest and a leather jacket, or if I wear a classic pair of retro Jordans, this epitomises it.”
Rajat also reiterates the importance of experimenting with your looks. “I believe you cannot achieve the essence of fashion if you keep repeating your looks, this is where style really comes in. Having a great style is being able to sense an item’s creation, feel its texture, and fully embrace wearing it. This is the story behind the name of my Instagram account: @sensedfeltworn
While talking about the impetus for starting a dedicated fashion account, Rajat explains that after investing over 25 years in the hotel industry and becoming too familiar with wearing bespoke suits on the daily, a part of him started rebelling against what had become his norm. “I found myself in a ‘lockdown of style,’ I was bored and I wanted to get my inner-craftsman back to his canvas.
I began walking into boardrooms in a navy suit, crisp white shirt, brogues, all complemented by a Gucci tie, a statement that represented my eye for style. I began refusing to wear a suit at tradeshows because I believed that although that was what the world wanted to see me in, it was not how it was going to remember me. I always change my looks. Once I donned a khaki Nehru jacket with a statement pocket square from Raghavendra Rathore and tailored chinos. Voila!”
As it’s so easy to fall back into silhouettes we’re familiar with, I ask Rajat what tips he can offer all of us who are looking to go bigger with their looks. To which he said, “Bold is beautiful, and bolder is coming to the realisation that you have just as much right to play as others do! I’m a fan of colour-pop, I love the return of tie-dye. I think it’s all about flirting between looking right and looking ridiculous, this is where using neutrals comes in handy. Throw a black or white layer in with something bold to protect your look.
“Remember, fashion is an expression of you, but if you’re not confident in your choices, bring a buddy along and let them be your critic. Don’t be shy to ask your next-door style guy for advice. Chart out your days, for example, Wednesdays are for jeans and a tee, Thursdays are for neutral trousers and a loud shirt, Fridays are for eclectic layers, Saturdays are for bucket hats around the pool, and so on. You should also cement all looks with a selfie. Trust me on this!”
Where do you shop and find style inspiration?
Currently, I’ve adored what I’ve seen in stores at CELINE, Officine Générale, Givenchy and Saint Laurent. I shop across various online platforms and outlets, from Farfetch to flea markets, Mr. Porter to Heathrow Airport, and most recently ICONSIAM and Central Embassy. I also always keep my eyes peeled for inspiration, I am drawing ideas from eCommerce blogs, Italian fashion entrepreneurs, fashion bloggers based in NYC, and leading designers and craftsmen on Instagram.