Pursuit of Happiness

In the Right Ensemble

Manish Kapoor, MD and CEO of clothing brand Pepe Jeans India, finds happiness in spending time with his family and bonding with them over leisure trips, Formula One races, cricket matches and cooking 

Fashion is about being comfortable and being able to pick and choose what works for you, says Manish Kapoor, managing director and chief executive officer of denim and casual wear brand Pepe Jeans India. “It is not necessary to do what the world is doing. What makes you look and feel good is fine,” he says.

That is not to say that he has not cringed at the sight of certain ensembles. As someone who has been in the fashion industry for decades now, Kapoor finds it difficult to understand certain preferences, even if they have been adopted into everyday attires. Sneakers with suit or blazer is one, he says. “Kids today wear sliders with socks along with shorts. I still feel that is not cool,” he adds. His comfort attire is denims paired with a white T-shirt and sneakers.

For Kapoor, comfort as a professional comes from his practical approach to work-life balance. “It is not about demarcating that this is where you stop work. Once you go up the ladder, you need to understand that work and personal life can go hand in hand. Even when I am travelling, and I need to take up a call for an hour, I do it. Alternatively, while at work, if I have to take out time for parents-teachers meeting or annual concerts at my children’s school, I do that,” he says.

The one thing that he looks forward  to when he is off work is spending time with family. While he travels a lot for work, he loves exploring new places with his family. They go on three to four trips every year, he says. London and Goa are his favourite international and domestic travel destinations respectively. “I always thought I was a mountains person, because I come from the foothills of the Himalayas. But I like Goa. So, inherently somewhere I am more of a ‘beach person’ than a ‘mountains person’,” he says.

When at home, the family watches Formula One races and cricket matches together. Kapoor also loves cooking. Explaining his strategy if he has to cook for guests, he says, “One of the biggest things I have learnt from cooking is where you can focus and what you can delegate. I can cook for eight to 10 people. How I do it is I delegate. I enter when I have to add the personal touch.” 

He may be the man steering the ship for a major international fashion brand, but his daughters are his guides at home. “I am learning from my girls most of the time,” he confesses, adding, “That is one of the biggest things I have realised. Consumers change so fast. They are teaching you all the time in terms of what needs to be done.”

His retirement plans include mentoring companies and smaller businesses for a while before settling down at a quiet hill station with his wife and travelling and exploring the world. On his to-do travel list are a coast drive in Australia, couple of weeks of stay at a small chalet in Switzerland and exploring Latin America. 

“Happiness,” he feels, “is a state of mind where you are content with what you are doing and what you have. Being with family is very important.” 

Kapoor wants to leave a legacy of leaders who are empathetic and humble. “Sometimes, empathy and humility need to be developed. Sometimes, people do not realise the importance of these traits because they are too focused on results. The reality is that a lot of times, results are coming in because of these traits. If you are empathetic, you are able to lead your people well. They give more than 100%. And, being humble means that you are never settled. You always look for the next summit,” he says.