James Ferreira (born James Christopher Joseph Ferreira; 25 July 1956) is an Indian fashion designer and founder of the ‘James Ferreira’ designer label.
He is a pioneer in the Indian Fashion Industry and has collaborated with all major players that shaped the Fashion, Textile and media business in the formative years. He started his design career in 1976 and currently his label that comprises predominantly western silhouettes with subtle non-literal infusion of Indian elements, retails in all major boutiques across India. Early Bollywood stars, to current International celebrities like Freida Pinto, have worn the designer’s creations.
The designer lives and works out of the iconic 47-G Bungalow at Khotachiwadi, which is one of the last surviving Heritage villages of Bombay. Ferreira is also an active member of the URBZ group that works towards preserving heritage districts and areas within metros. He has been vociferously opposing the take over bid of Khotachiwadi by businesspeople from Bombay and mobilizing support for the cause.
James Ferreira was born in 1956, to Owen and Thelma Ferreira in Bombay. Father Owen Ferreira was a hockey olympian and his maternal ancestor was a Portuguese ambassador to India.
Ferreira illustrated clothes and stylized figures through his school life, which manifested into a career choice after reading an article illustrating the works of designer Pierre Cardin in 1964. He pursued a foundation course in commercial art at the Sir J.J. School of Art (1974-75) and further completed a tailoring course at the Sheroo Coopers academy of tailoring (1976-78) in Mumbai.
After completing his education in 1976, he began his career designing for Purple Pussycat in 1976. It was one of the earliest designer wear boutiques in Bombay catering to the expats and socialites. He then went on to work with various textile houses, boutiques and private clients, and worked as a designer under the British designer Zandra Rhodes in 1982.
In 1992 continuing with his position as the Creative Head at the Boutiques Bada Saab and First Lady, he established a full-fledged production unit and a studio for his namesake label ‘James Ferreira’.
In 2006 he debuted at the Lakme India Fashion week and subsequently in 2011 he collaborated with Veryta Foundation run by Stefano Pilati, design director Yves Saint Laurent and Filippo Binaghi, of Lorma SLR, Como, Italy to showcase a collection at the AW’11 Wills India Fashion Week.
In May 2013 he launched a collection of Diamond Jewelry in collaboration with Gehna Jewelers.
James Ferreira’s design philosophy is recognizable in his flowing garments; from a weave to a drape, to a cut, and finally a silhouette, which remains nothing but one single piece of cloth.
His garments are predominantly natural fabrics and blend western silhouettes with Indian crafts and technique. The designer has constantly referenced Indian subjects for his Prêt collections but consistently maintains the cosmopolitan traits synonymous with the label. Some of Ferreira’s signature designs have been the double-layered Sari (1987), the flared Sari Pallu, the knit and jersey Kameez. A lot of his styles were not successful initially but variations went on to flood the market at a later stage.
The ultra creative designer is known to be equally temperamental and this according to critiques has been the limitation for the brands growth. On occasions the designer’s collections and bold themes have been controversial or negatively critiqued.