A Ritu Kumar Initiative : Beautiful Hands make Beautiful Work
While the world recognizes an exquisite ensemble for its intricacy, fabric and style, not many think of
the people behind the craft from embellishments, weaving, printing to the perfect tailoring. An industry
veteran for the past 40 years, Ritu Kumar – India’s foremost luxury fashion brands has launched an
initiative to recognize and celebrate such ‘people’ who silently work behind the scenes.
Mummy Daddy Media Pvt Ltd and Chintan Gohil, a budding artist and videographer, the creative minds
behind this inspirational concept have created and produced the four part video series. The first video of
the series was premiered at the Lakme Fashion Week Fashion Films Premiere.
The brainchild behind the concept, Mr. Amrish Kumar, CEO, Ritu Kumar said, “We are very happy to
launch this initiative that applauds the people who create these beautiful ensembles and celebrates the
journey of a garment from a weaver’s village to an embroider’s workshop. Working in the industry for
decades, we as a brand salute these craftsmen for their art.”
I urge you to watch all the videos in the series, apart from being a cinematic dream these videos also tell the story of Indian fashion without really saying much. I was blown away by the entire initiative and the fact that the House of Ritu Kumar decided to take time out to highlight the lives and stories of the people behind fashion. I decided right then that lookingGoodFeelingFab needed to be a part of it, a very small part maybe but a part none the less.
We asked Mrs Ritu Kumar a few questions and here is what she had to say.
What prompted the creation of ‘Beautiful Hands’? What is it that ‘Beautiful Hands’ aims to achieve?
Beautiful Hands talks about the work of the talented craftsmen, in and around Kolkata, who work on printing, embroidery, weaving and the wonderful creations that come out as a result of their hard work. With the Beautiful Hands campaign, we wish to highlight their talent and applaud them for their contribution to the fashion industry. These craftsmen are often spoken and written about, but we don’t often get a sense of what that means, this is an effort to explain what they mean to us and where they fit in to the bigger picture.
You have revived and brought life to many Indian traditional crafts. But every corner of the country, every region has a traditional craft associated with it, do you ever feel a rush to work with craftsmen from all parts of India? Does the house of Ritu Kumar have plans to work with crafts from other regions too?
Yes, Ritu Kumar has presence in all major cities across India. I believe Indian traditional craftsmanship has a lot of heritage value associated with it, be it from any region. I have closely worked with craftsmen from Kutch, Andhra , Odisha & Kolkata, to name a few and value their skill and talent. In fact, we have recently revived Kutch embroidery as well as Shibori and strive to do more to highlight Indian textiles.
The fashion industry in India is booming, people are willing to spend more and more on their fashion, can the same be said about Indian craft and the Indian craftsman?
The youth is now taking an interest in vintage classic pieces and does not believe in just following runway fashion blindly. Yes, there are a lot of influences from contemporary fashion however, the Indian essence and the ethnic wear will never go out of fashion. It is our cultural heritage, one that we will never grow out of.
Traditional Indian fashion is precariously wedged somewhere between the international luxury brands and the cheaper high street fashion, manufactured in sweat shops. Are either or both of these a threat to our traditional Indian fashion?
The fact that there is a strong presence of Indian fashion is a trend which is in itself a small miracle. Indigenous fashions in the rest of the world have been almost wiped out even in traditionally strong textile producing countries. The presence of craft based fashion will only add to the dimension in Indian fashion. It does sit between the luxury goods marketed by multi nationals and cheap factory made goods. I feel there will now always be a discerning clientele for them.
Clothes these days have become more about the label and the price tag, than about anything else. The videos make it evident that clothes from the House of Ritu Kumar are about people, their love, their lives, their passion, their time and their stories. There is weaving, dyeing, printing, embroidery, tailoring and a myriad of tiny details in between each step. We all would like to support each and every person involved, however everyone cannot afford to buy a Ritu Kumar often enough. How else can we support the crafts and craftsmen of India?
I beg to differ, as a Label Ritu Kumar piece can be purchased at a minimum cost of Rs. 3000, which is easily affordable by the middle class of today. With a lot of awareness today, we see that people understand the amount of effort that goes into creating each garment and the youth of today appreciates such craftsmanship. The only support we look for would be to keep these crafts and textiles alive for our coming generations and not just let them fade away into being a part of Indian history.
I hope you enjoyed the interview with Mrs. Ritu Kumar and all the insights into traditional Indian crafts and fashion.
You can watch all the videos and support the initiative by heading over to the Beautiful Hands site