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 ‘A startup gives you the platform to unlock your core skill sets’

Designer Kumari Ritu, an alumna of the School of Design and Visuals Arts, ASU, says the focus on design and innovation is imperative to meet the changing demands of the fashion industry

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Born and brought up in Gujarat, Kumari Ritu is a fashion designer-cum-stylist by profession who sometimes wears the hat of a freelance photographer. She graduated from the School of Design and Visuals Arts, Apeejay Stya University, in 2020 and is working with Deevaz, a Delhi-based lingerie startup. Ritu is passionate about styling and photography. She says, “Photography helps me understand the emotions, situation and feelings through light and shadow in the best possible manner while styling gives me the freedom to depict any emotion or a situation.”  In an interview, she talks about her learning experiences and more.    

Did you always want to be a fashion designer when you were young? How did you choose this career?
Just like every other kid in school, even I wasn’t sure about what I actually wanted to be. Every other day my dreams would change. But it was in class 10, when I walked the ramp for the first time in my life as a model, I realised for the first time that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
No doubt my parents always encouraged me to participate in several fashion shows that were held in my city and that’s how my interest in fashion kept growing. But like most parents they wanted me to pursue either a B.Tech or B.Arch degree. However, they eventually realised my interest area and gave me a chance to prove myself but I lost that. After the class 12 Boards I applied for both B.Tech and B.Arch courses. Along with these, I also applied for Fashion Design programmes. And finally when I got through, my parents agreed to it. So, that’s how the journey started.

How did the Apeejay School of Design and Visual Arts groom you for the fashion industry?
The practical field exposure through internships, attending fashion shows and seminars helped me learn and practice the technical aspects of the industry. I learnt how consistency and motivation to achieve something help you in the long run. Never hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Treat every project – big or small – as a learning opportunity. Moreover, work on live projects with industry experts to gain valuable skills and insight into the industrial and commercial challenges of design practice.

How does it feel to begin one’s career with a startup?
Actually, it feels great! When I started working with ‘Deevaz’, I wasn’t even sure if I really wanted this or not. But after a few days, I realised this is exactly what I was looking for – taking responsibilities on my shoulder, making decisions, building up a team along with designs, learning the business aspects of running a brand, picking up new and different things from the ground level, and handling the website along with brand marketing. A startup gives you the platform to unlock your core skill sets.

What are the skills important to be a part of or to work for a lingerie brand?
The focus on design and innovation is imperative to meet the changing demands. In addition, you need to develop specialist skills in conceptual design and application, pattern cutting, grading, fit methodologies, technical excellence and manufacturing. You need to be very well aware of the technical part of the lingerie product, from deciding the fabric, design, pattern to the look and feel of the product. Whenever we are talking about lingerie, the most important aspect is “comfort”. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends. In addition to these, understand your target audience. It will help you chalk out the strategies to reach them. Also, do a detailed study of your product. It’s also important to know your competitors – that will help you further understand your customers and create recognition for your brand. Finally, feedback and reviews are the most important part of understanding the product quality and style.

What are some design element imperatives to be incorporated in a lingerie line?
Intimate apparel is an intimate experience. Always ask yourself, what kind of fabric and fit you would prefer for yourself. This will give you an understanding of the design elements that should be incorporated in a lingerie line. Then work on selecting the materials. Understand the kind of clients you want to cater. That would give you a clarity on the kind of product you need to design. The fashion industry is continuously evolving so experiment and test with your products but along with continuously developing newer ones.

Where do you aspire to see yourself in the coming years?
It’s only been two years since I graduated and began working, but I’d say that my goal in the following years is to up my designing and technical skills. One of my longer-term career goals is to be involved in conceptualising fashion shoots – from styling to photography and mentoring, maybe as a successful designer cum stylist. And the first step to mastering it is consistently performing each day. So each day, I look forward to building my design and technical skills. I also aspire to create my own brand in the coming years.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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