Today (March 8) is International Women’s Day. And, when it comes to women achievers in the country, one name that stands out is that of designer Ritu Kumar. Kumar, who began her career in 1969, feels that the fashion industry has opened up a huge opportunity for women in the crafts sector in India. She says the sector has opened up not only for high end fashion designers, but also for women in other fields such as embroidery, printing and weaving. “Their knowledge of textiles is exceptionally detailed and something that is passed down from generations. Women in urban areas are excellent multitaskers, managing home and work with equal flair. The trick is to prioritise. Today, Indian fashion caters to their [women’s] many roles and is focused on versatility,” she says.
Fashion v/s Indian textiles
From being an artistry student to one of the most respected designers in the country, Kumar says she learnt about textiles through her journey. She says, “I learnt textiles through the craft route. Back in the day, everybody wore saris. Fashion was about saris. It was about the excellence in aesthetics and crafts. Fashion was more of a directory of that [aesthetics and crafts]. Also, fashion by definition means you have to change very fast. And, Indian textiles and crafts should not be changing that fast.”
Kumar believes that Indian fashion is evolving, which doesn’t have to do much with Paris (France) or America, except for influences in style. “Intrinsically, my work has been very much about textiles of this country. The journey has been enriching. I don’t think if I was in any other country, I would have got the opportunity or experience as I have had in India,” she says.
Kumar says films play an important role in taking Indian textiles forward. “All these films that [have the actresses] come with lehengas and over the top dresses or theatrical presentations, are a huge boost for the crafts. They are very effective and are getting the message out there,” says Kumar.