He is a metaphor for the chicest Indian garment — the bandhgala. Over the years, he has reinvented the classic staple and recently even reinterpreted it for women. Dazzling bespoke junkies with his restrained and elegant aesthetic seasons after seasons, he has shied away from fashion weeks and branched into other ventures like hospitality and chocolates. The suave and elegant Raghavendra Rathore speaks about his design philosophy and plans...
You studied design overseas. How has the global perspective shaped your quintessential Indian aesthetics? What’s the root of your artistic expression?
International exposure and worldly education is key to understand the value and the richness of our culture. In the global modern village, we need to comprehend and value the importance of ‘indigenous design’.
You are one of few Indian designers who focused early on brand expansion — in terms of hotel properties, chocolatier etc...
The design landscape in India is unique in every regard. All my early experiences of working in the US made me stress on the fact that we wanted to make a design company and not only a fashion company. Hence the idea of diversity was key in the early years of building a diverse foundation or the Raghavendra Rathore label.
Of late you have stayed away from runway and fashion weeks (the bridal week was a one-off showcase in Mumbai). Any particular reason?
I believe the bespoke segment that we are in, may perhaps not need so much cajoling as the other segments of fashion. Flirting with the fashion weeks is important but very sparingly, time to time, depending on what the vision of the company is, we are open to such platforms.
You’ve redefined the classic bandhgala. Can you elaborate on the classic love affair...
Resurrecting the classic clothing from our heritage is not only important but crucial for the future generations. Modernising ideas from the past for the present is where we find our challenges for the company — it is why we exist.
What are your views on menswear in India? Why is it still in the nascent stages?
As retail gets more organised we will see the real value of Indian men’s wear reach its optimum. The present speed at which it is growing is rapid and alarming, capturing the mindset is a real challenge for a design house like us.
Your design process and muse? What’s in store for your next collection?
In spite of fashion being cyclic, each season we focus on deeper roots of heritage to bring out value from the old world and translate that in contemporary methodologies. We have varied interests in design and lifestyle which covers the entire bandwidth of lifestyle.
Any new ventures to reach out to the masses or are you looking at any brand tie-ups.
Capitalising over the hand-made Jodhpuri bandgala jacket, Jodhpuri pants, Jodhpuri achkans and other classic outfits is our present focus for the year. Providing an access to our services pan India will be the key area of growth over this and the coming year.