Leicester’s Arinder Bhullar, is an award winning designer who’s been dressing brides and Bollywood stars for over 20 years. Her designs are loved and admired the world over for their unique fusion of East and Western elements.
Arinder sat down with Pukaar Magazine to discuss the dramatic leap she made from a career in legal publishing, to her current occupation as the owner of a glittering fashion store.
Standing proudly in the heart of Leicester’s Golden Mile, Arinder Bhullar’s shop is one which can’t be missed as you walk along the famous glittering stretch…
Sumptuous silk gowns, and lavish crystal encrusted corsets take centre stage in the designer’s window, which is framed by her striking, black and white logo.
‘Arinder Bhullar’ is a brand which is known the world over for its award winning, signature style – a unique fusion of East and Western design elements, which attract not only Asian customers, but also those from across the wider world.
It is this unique aspect of Arinder’s work which is a huge selling point of her widely sought after designs, which have been worn by hundreds of brides, as well as the likes of Bollywood icon Shabana Azmi, and well-known musicians such as Satinder Sartaaj and Jazzy B.
“East meets West – that’s my niche. I like to be different from everybody else,” said Arinder, who was born in London’s East End before moving to Leicester with her family, back in 1998.
It was no surprise that Hollywood came calling for Arinder’s skills back in 2017, when producers saw her designs and approached her to dress the stars of a new period movie they were making called ‘The Black Prince.’
It was an opportunity which proved to be a big plus for her career, and a welcome platform for getting the ‘Arinder Bhullar’ brand recognised further on the world stage.
“I feel really blessed to have been picked out,” said the designer, who’s been at her current Belgrave Road base for the past 16 years.
“The producers came to interview me at my shop one summer morning, and they must have liked what I showed them and what I spoke about, because I’m very passionate about my clothes,” she revealed. “When I’m doing a project, it has to be done full heartedly.”
However, despite being drafted in to lend a helping hand to Hollywood, it may come as a surprise to learn that Arinder hasn’t always enjoyed such a glamorous and creative line of work.
She actually started out her working life as a legal publisher in London, a role which she settled into when she met and married her salesman husband, Rajinder.
But despite it being a stable, well-paid career, law was never where Arinder’s true passion lay. And so, with the support of Rajinder, she made the dramatic leap of moving to Leicester in order to fulfil her burning creative desires.
“I feel that when I worked in London, it was a job that paid my mortgage, but my dream was always to create clothes,” she said. “My husband had a good job too, so we were settled with our children, but because we always wanted to have a business, we thought, ‘why not do it? We’re in our 30’s now and if we don’t do it, we never will.’
“Let’s take that chance,” she said, “and from there it just happened. Within months, we just packed up our bags in London and moved to Leicester.”
The couple moved to the city with their two children, and initially set up base at an upstairs premises in the Highfield Street area, before moving to a small shop in East Park Road, and then onto the current ‘Arinder Bhullar’ store in 2005.
After making the bold leap to Leicester, success came pretty quickly for Arinder’s fashion ambitions after she designed her first wedding outfit for a young lady, who fell in love with the glamorous one-of-a-kind creation she put together.
Word spread quickly about Arinder’s talent, and before long a parade of prospective brides poured in, each wanting a unique wedding outfit all their own.
Arinder cites the dressing of brides, as a real highlight of her job – a passion, an honour and a privilege. Despite facing more challenging times recently in the face of the pandemic, generations of brides-to- be continue to come back to her store for the special brand of magic she provides.
“I love the look on the face of the girl who wears that bridal outfit – when I see her and she’s got tears in her eyes, and her Mum’s crying, and I’m crying too because it’s just magic,” she said. “I feel as if I’m creating magic.”
“When someone wears my outfit and they look and feel good, that makes me feel really good.”
Passion, care and elegance shines through in everything Arinder does, and she takes great pride in her designs, which are recognised widely on the fashion scene.
She won the ‘International Bridal Award’ for ‘Best Wedding Outfit’ back in 2010, which gave her the recognition she deserves, and a platform for even more success. Since taking the chance to move to Leicester and pursue her dream, it’s fair to say that Arinder Bhullar has definitely enjoyed a long and satisfying career.
So what’s next for the designer?
“In the next five years I want to take the brand forward to maybe opening more branches of Arinder Bhullar, maybe in London, maybe abroad,” she revealed.“I’m in a very happy place right now and I love my job,” she added.
“In fact, I don’t feel as though it’s a a job. When I come into work I smile. I look forward to going to my shop and meeting customers.
“I love Leicester for the diversity. I may have been born an East End girl, but now, I’m definitely a Leicester one.”
Find Arinder Bhullar at; 95 Belgrave Road, Leicester, LE4 6AS or visit the website at: www.arinderbhullar.uk
By Louise Steel