Global influencer Diipa Khosla's style hacks to embrace minimalism this festive season
The joy lies in the simpler things in life this Diwali, says the social media star. Would you agree?
What makes the modern Indian woman truly modern? The definition of the term is constantly evolving, with new feathers being added to the hat, while letting go of archaic gender roles that no longer serve any purpose. In a world that is shrinking rapidly, Indian women across the globe are stepping up and rising to the occasion in ways the society has never witnessed before.
Among these women, we have Diipa Büller-Khosla, who, in a span of just a few years, has garnered over 1.8 million followers on Instagram, spearheaded an NGO encouraging influencers to drive social change, and launched a conscious beauty and skincare ecosystem, indē wild, all while flaunting the term that forms the core of all her endeavours — Global Indian. A mum, a wife, a social advocate, an entrepreneur and an influencer, Diipa takes pride in her global upbringing, which according to her forms the essence of the modern Indian woman.
Ahead of the festive occasion of Diwali — a much-revered Indian celebration and a spiritual ode to good over evil — we spoke to Khosla on everything spanning from why she resonates with the term ‘global Indian’, feeling confident in her skin, how she plans to style herself for the Festival of Lights as well as the broader trends she envisions this festive season.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
Q: You were recently in India. How often do you go back home?
Diipa: I go back as much as I can, especially now that I have to travel a lot more because my work is expanding. The trip to India was something I was planning for a long while. It was indē wild’s first-ever pop-up for Diwali. We wanted to share the Festival of Lights with the world. There’s always such a big hype around festivals like Christmas globally but people don’t know much about Diwali. So, we wanted to start this Diwali gift shop, and we decided to take it to Delhi because it’s my birth city. But we’ll do this every year, in different cities around the world. Next year, it could be in Los Angeles, Dubai, or New York but the aim is to do it around Diwali.
Q: Your Instagram bio reads ‘Global Indian’. You moved out of India a while ago for your higher education, had an interracial marriage and created a new home for yourself in Amsterdam with your family. How were you able to hold onto your tradition and cultural heritage?
Diipa: I was born and raised in India, so it’s always going to be home for me. I was 18 when I left to study, ended up staying back in Europe and built my life here. Eventually, my core family also moved to Europe. But I think deep down, I’m just such a proud Indian. When I first came to Europe, people asked me all sorts of stereotypical questions like ‘how do you speak English?’, ‘are you sure you were educated in India?’, and so on. Despite that, I was always proud of where I came from because it’s such a rich culture. We have so many smart, intellectual people and now finally, I think the world is seeing that too, with India becoming such a superpower. Indians all over the world are excelling in every field. For me, it’s the honour of my life to be able to represent this culture. I proudly show off my food and culture to all the Europeans here as well. I truly am a global Indian and I think there are so many Indians living all over the world that can really resonate with that title.
Q: Did you initially face the pressure to ‘fit in’?
Diipa: We all do. When I first came here as a teenager, I remember wearing contact lenses and dyeing my hair blonde, and all sorts of things to fit into this Eurocentric standard of beauty. But over time, when you learn to love yourself, you realise what you have is like the most unique and beautiful gift. I’ve had my journey with that, too.
Q: Can that also lead to an identity crisis or people being dismissive of your work?
Diipa: I get that critique so often. Even till date, people ask me, ‘Why do you have a put-on accent?’ I’ve studied in an international boarding school, and grown up with this accent. If you would wake me up at 3am, I would still sound like this. It’s not me putting on an accent. That’s just what happens when you’ve had such a global upbringing.
Q: I discovered you on social media when you came out with your skin journey, sharing your struggles with acne and its mental tolls. Since then, it’s almost become a trend to share one’s vulnerabilities on social media vis-à-vis better engagement, more likes and followers, etc. Is there unspoken pressure to be real online?
Diipa: Back when I did it, there wasn’t really a trend. Right now, it almost seems to be a trend to show your vulnerability for likes and comments. For me, it was never really that, it was more about overcoming the feeling of misleading my community, sharing false images of myself where my skin was always photoshopped. At one point, all these girls would say things like ‘How do you look so perfect?’ when in reality, my skin was far from perfect. That’s when I felt the need to show them that nobody is perfect. Even with the biggest Bollywood or Hollywood stars, it’s a whole team curating their image and making them look ‘perfect’.
Q: Has there been a shift away from the fixation on Eurocentric standards of beauty in the last few years?
Diipa: I’m the person who looks at the world glass half full. So, I do believe there is a positive shift happening but of course, more work needs to be done. In countries like India, there’s still this fascination toward lighter skin being more beautiful. But things are changing, and people are openly owning their differences and how they look.
Q: Your style is something that a lot of people wish to emulate or take tips from when they see your Instagram. How would you define your own style?
Diipa: My personal style is ever-evolving. But currently, especially post-pandemic, I think comfort is quite important to me while being chic, of course. Being a busy mum and an entrepreneur, I’m always travelling, so comfort is very important. If you have a piece of outfit that’s comfortable and fashionable, it’s a winner. When I go out for events, I do like to be quite edgy, and make a statement but my everyday look is comfort-chic.
Q: Is comfort-chic also the mood of this season when it comes to festive dressing?
Diipa: Having bounced back from such a horrendous pandemic, I think that people are going to care more about the important things this festive season, such as spending time with family and friends in the presence of love and those kinds of things. This means I want to dance with my friends more and I want to play teen patti (card games) at night, I want to have fun. So, comfort is definitely going to take the forefront but it’s still going to be fashionable. Same with hair and makeup, we’re going to see a lot more of the minimalistic, no makeup-makeup looks, super glowy skin, luscious hair that looks healthy. There’s going to be a lot more emphasis on health and comfort and making more important things stand out rather than caking yourself up with makeup and wearing heavy clothing. It’s going to be more effortless.
Q: Who are some of the designers you’re keeping an eye out for this Diwali season?
Diipa: So many. I think India’s booming right now with incredible designers. There are the biggies Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Gaurav Gupta, Rahul Mishra. Everything they do is amazing. But I also love the new birth of talent that’s coming in the country with many names that have only come up in the last few years like Torani, Raw Mango, or the younger ones like Arpita Mehta and Masaba. There’s so much talent in the country right now.
Q: Do you style yourself or do you have a stylist?
Diipa: I do style myself most of the time. But I also do work with a few dear friends who are stylists who help me out with the process. Ultimately, I like being true to myself, because you can tell when a celebrity has been styled and not had any say in it compared to the ones who have their personal style shine through. I always make sure that even when I work with stylists, my personal style comes through.
Q. How are you planning to dress up for Diwali?
Diipa: I’m going to have a standard Diwali just with my core family. It’s probably going to be a beautiful pastel lehenga or salwar. I’ll be keeping it festive but simple and focusing on the puja, the spiritual element and time together with family. My makeup and hair is going to be very effortless, as I always like it. Make it more of a minimalistic kind of Diwali!
Q: You’re also someone who owns her style. How would you advise people to own their style when dressing up this Diwali?
Diipa: It all starts with the inward journey. It’s an inside-out process. It’s how you feel on the inside that will automatically shine through in everything you wear, or whatever you do. The confidence and the way you carry yourself and your posture, all of it starts from how you think about yourself. And step two is wearing clothes that you’re comfortable in, that make you feel the most confident and not just to follow a trend. Sometimes stylists will show me outfits that may look stunning on the model or may be trendy that season but I just say no. It’s important to have that confidence to say, ‘No, that’s not what I want’. The whole world might like a certain fashion trend but that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s about knowing what you want and owning it.
Q: Your husband Oleg comescfrom a very different cultural upbringing. How well has he adapted to your Indian roots? Does he enjoy dressing up for Diwali?
Diipa: I might be biased but I actually think he looks really good in Indian clothing. He has this athletic body in a way that he pulls off Indian clothing quite well. But he’s culturally very respectful. So, when it is for a cultural occasion, he is more than happy to always wear traditional clothes. But he’s a minimalist. So, the majority of velvet, glitter, bold colours are all out of the conversation. He will always go very simple, like a silk kurta and pyjama and he’s happy with that. Even if it’s the biggest designers in the country trying to put him in anything else, he’ll say no.
Q: Lastly, do you have any plans of bringing your personal brand to the UAE?
Diipa: I already have projects with Etihad Airways, Visit Dubai and fashion and luxury brands in Dubai. Now that I visit India more often, I do see myself expanding my business in Dubai. Dubai is a great market. There are so many Indians there and people love skincare and Ayurveda. I looking forward to expanding in the Middle East very soon.