Clothes are becoming a little more needs-based, says designer Ritu Kumar
Fashion designer Ritu Kumar, 77, says she’s glad the pandemic forced her to slow down, and wouldn’t want to go back to the rush and bustle of the life she had before it. She’s returned to sketching her own designs by hand, and has begun writing, mainly about her travels. When it comes to fashion, “clothes are becoming a little more need-based, so we are designing accordingly,” she says. Excerpts from an interview:
What are the biggest changes you foresee in the world of fashion, as a result of the pandemic?
The textile business has taken a huge hit. The recession is going to hit this sector hard too. Till people regain the power to spend on big fat weddings, it’s going to continue to be hard. India’s fashion industry is not very large but it does work as a catalyst for the textile world. It is actually a very good way of promoting crafts because it popularises the styles and then Bollywood promotes it, and it spreads out all over the country.
I think things will take a long time to return to that, and they might go in an entirely different direction. The larger-than-life occasions will be toned down. We’ve had a whole year to think about the effects of fast fashion and how we spend. I think people will opt for classics now — something you can pass down to the next generation.
How has your label adapted to the change?
We have designed a collection with a traditional aesthetic that is not so heavy on the pocket. I think that is going to be a key factor now. We are getting a lot of enquiries from younger generations. The demand now is, if we are making a lehenga, churidar and chunri set, the wearer should be able to wear them separately later. Blouses that can be worn with jeans, lehengas as skirts. We have always tended to be classic in our collections. Now I want to give the younger generation, who don’t want to look theatrical all the time, a collection they will love.
The pandemic has also given people the option of keeping to smaller wardrobes — or even no wardrobe. I know people who have lived in just tracksuits for the last eight months.
Comfort has become very important. We have had the time ask ourselves, do I need so many things? The answer, most probably, is no. Clothes are becoming a little more need-based, so we are designing accordingly.
Do you think these changes indicate a paradigm shift, or just the start of a new cycle?
I believe everyone will want to go back to the way we were. We, as a country, love pageantry. That’s how I see it. When we’re dressing up, we like to look like royal families. That urge will remain, but I hope the essence changes — towards tradition, wearability, wonderfully woven saris.
How realistic is all the talk out there right now, of a trend towards sustainability in the fashion industry?
It can be achieved if we go back to our handloom, handicraft traditions. Back to what made us what we are as a textile country. Most of our craftspeople work out of their homes, in villages. They don’t come to factories. Much of their work has a tiny carbon footprint. Much of it is done without even electricity, done by hand. The more we use this sector, the more sustainable the fashion world will be.
What are the changes you have made as a fashion consumer?
I opened my cupboard and rediscovered what I own. The gorgeous saris I had worn just once. The lovely jackets from Europe. Looking at what I already have, I wondered what more can I buy that would be comparable to this?
How has your life changed over the past year?
I have started writing. In my life, I did a lot of travelling — in India, in my textile areas, and around the world. In the last eight months I have written down some of those experiences — where I went, what we saw, what we ate… from Odisha to Bhutan to south India. My story started with my work in Bengal when I was in my 20s, when I first discovered the embroidery workers. Zardozi was so unknown then. Most designers were working with fabrics imported from Europe. On the banks of the Ganga, in Serampore, I discovered hand-block printing. I’m so happy that I got this breathing time to look back. I’m planning a book — I have 50 years of experience to write about. I hope younger people, reading it, feel the urge to travel and discover what I discovered and experience the same richness.
What would you say life in lockdown has taught you?
I was running from pillar to post. Ten days before we went into lockdown, I was in Paris, then I was in Mumbai for a shoot, then I went to Kolkata for work, then Delhi. That was insane, and I don’t ever want to do that again.
I want to continue with my writing. I have also started drawing from scratch again, in the last eight months, as opposed to leaving the drawing to others on the team. It’s been a very creative time for me. And the thing I didn’t miss is socialising. If I go back to it, I will do it very selectively.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- ‘Ready Shetty Go’: Shilpa Shetty Kundra dolls up in a handcrafted red and white Bandhani shirt and skirt on Women’s Day 2021 to shoot for another episode of Super Dancer Chapter 4 and fans can’t stop swooning over her outfit of the day
- Janhvi Kapoor and Kriti Sanon were spotted during their casual day outs in Mumbai. Both the actors opted to wear similar outfits which included a basic top teamed with a pair of distressed denims. That is not all, they even went for similar accessories and were seen wearing black footwear and carrying tote bags. We are a fan of this casual look as well. What about you?
- Shraddha Kapoor shared pictures of herself looking like a dream in a gorgeous golden and blue lehenga choli set at the wedding ceremony of her cousin Priyaank Sharma with Shaza Morani. However, the stunning outfit was made by a brand that has been co-founded by her masi Padmini Kohlapure.
- Singham star Kajal Aggarwal makes jaws drop in awe as she remains at the top of her fashion game in a wine discharge print organza saree while looking forward to a grand release of Mosagallu and one of her highly anticipated movies of Tollywood, Acharya
- Priyanka Chopra recently shared an image of herself wearing a beautiful turtle-neck sweater. The special thing about it was that the jumper was knitted by the actor's mom, Madhu Chopra while she was staying in London.
- Want to make the traffic stop and bae go weak in the knees on your next date night? Take fashion cues from Parineeti Chopra’s latest smoking hot look for Marathi Filmfare Awards 2021’s red carpet, in a backless sequinned midi dress, which has set the mercury soaring like never before
- Athleisure has made its way into our wardrobes and it is here to stay. Celebrities also love a good lounge wear set which they can wear at home and also run last minute errands in. However, Disha Patani and Kiara Advani are giving athleisure a summer twist with bright and bold colours and we love it.
- Mouni Roy recently shared images from a new photo shoot wearing a gorgeous bright red kurta, ijaar pants and bandhani dupatta. She looked like a dreamy dulhan in the images. All the brides-to-be take note.
- Model and celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen made her desi fans extremely happy as she danced to the Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra starrer Bollywood song Jaaneman Aah from the film Dishoom.
- Nora Fatehi has a collection of dresses that ranges from minis to everything you can think of. The fashionista, who is often snapped in a beautiful attire, loves a good dress and we always end up taking inspiration from her sartorial picks.
- The high-end fashion house Dolce&Gabbana had filed a defamation suit against an Instagram account in the Italian court in 2019 and are seeking USD 600 million in damages.
- Kangana Ranaut looked radiant in a pink anarkali kurta with full, churidar sleeves, a white churidar and a self printed white dupatta. The Queen actor's look is perfect for the blazing heat of Mumbai.