An icon of the Indian Fashion industry and a frontrunner in establishing a position for India in the global forum,Ritu Kumar's contribution has been impeccable to the fashion fraternity, both nationally and internationally. With almost five decades of work for display, the designer excels in both traditional and western outfits, thoughethnic attires being her specialty. She was the first women to bring the boutique culture to India, under the name"Ritu". The gradual change in the fashion scenario has also lead to a change of designs for her brand.
She haskept in sync with the varying times and has effectively brought creativity and innovativeness with eachcollection. Ritu holds the status of being a revivalist in the fashion scenario, which has successfully bridged thegap between conservative and conventional style. Company History Mrs. Kumar became the first woman to introduce the ‘boutique’ culture in India under the brand name ‘Ritu’. Her work is constantly evolving within an aesthetic which is sophisticated both in the eastern and western sense, with ach of her collections making a contemporary statement in a fast changing modern India. The Brand Ritu Kumar has been retailing in Europe and India since 1970’s. The products include couture, formal pret accessories and a fashion forward sub brand called LABEL, Ritu Kumar. Currently Ritika Pvt. Limited operates two main production centers Gurgaon and Calcutta. Factories are equipped with in? house printing, tailoring, finishing and quality control facilities. It self runs and franchises retail outlets under the label RITU KUMAR.
Ritu pioneering work in reviving master craftsmanship has earned her several accolades including the French Honor "chevalier des arts et des lettres” , a knighthood was awarded to her by French government in recognition of her contribution to Indian textile crafts and her interaction with French fashion world. She has also been graced with ‘Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award’ for her achievements and contribution in the field of fashion. Mother Teresa, Birju Maharaj, Pt. Hari Prasad were previous recipients of this prestigious award. COSTUMES AND TEXTILE OF ROYAL INDIA
In October 1999 Christies of London published Ritu Kumar’s book “Costumes and Textiles of Royal India” a definitive chronicle of the history of India’s royal patronage to textile arts down the centuries starting with the historical context of Mohenjo Daro to the present era of vintage royalty. The book is an academic fashion history text which has become a key reference for its field in India. PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Ritu Kumar was born on 11th November 1944 in Amritsar, Punjab. A native of Delhi, Ritu graduated fromLady Irwin College in 1964 and did her higher education from Briarcliff College, NY, USA in 1966.
Theace designer had a humble beginning in a small village, near Kolkata, in 1960, with hand block printers andtwo tablets to flaunt about. With the passage of years, fashion grew and so did her network. From being adesigner to an author, Ritu Kumar has been the master of the game. Her son Ashvin Kumar is director, whose has made films like Road to Ladakh (2002) and short filmLittle Terrorist(2004), which was nominated for the2004Academy Award for Live Action Short Film,and in which she did the costume design. Ritu Kumar is the largest & most respected designer brand in India today.
Since 1969 she has developed aunique style of her own, reflecting the ancient traditions of Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary vocabulary. Her understanding of ancient designs and the innovative use of traditional crafts has created a new classicism. The company is renowned for its distinctive use of colors, quality of fabrics, intricate embroidies and a gloriously rich Indian aesthetic. ACHIEVEMENT HIGHLIGHTS: 1966 - Ritu’s first Boutique opened in Delhi at D3 Defence Colony Link Road, New Delhi. This was thefirst ever boutique in Delhi. 1968 As a celebration of 21 years of Ritu, THE TREE OF LIFE, as audio visual fashion tableau wasmounted, by invitation the Crafts Museum in New Delhi. 1970 – A fashion show; called “the Fashion Mood of the Seventies”. It was the very early attempt to bringsome professionalism into the ramp. 1972 – Fashion Parade by RITU’S BOUTIQUE at the Tollygunge Club, Calcutta. 1974 – RITU’S BOUTIQUE opens at Bombay. 1975 – She started a company called Kalamkari Designs Pvt. Ltd. jointly with her husband. Franchiseswere also started with Harrods London, Liberty, and
London for brief periods. 1985 – The ZARDOZI COLLECTION of traditional wear was exhibited at the festival of India in the USA. Ritu’s boutique was by this time was renamed simply as- RITU. 1990 – Established RITU a shop within a shop at Paris, as an ongoing promotion of India 1994 – Ritu was approached by Femina Miss India to professionalize the wardrobes for the finalists of thecontestants. 1998 – “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the National Institute of Fashion Technology. Ritu wasappointed on the Board of Governors at NIFT. Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Award” by the PHD-Chamber of Commerce. 2000 – “Lifetime achievement award” set by Kingfisher Group. 2002 – Launch of first sub brand – Ritu Kumar ‘Label’. 2004 – Selected as the President of FDCI board. Designer of the year 2004 by F Awards. 2006 – Bridal collection at the Lycra MTV Awards. ‘Glam Womenswear(India) Award by Tuscan VerveZoom Glan Awards. 2007 – Opened Ritu Kumar’s outlet in New York. 2008 – Awarded knighthood for contribution to Arts & Letters by the French government (Life Time Achievement Award).
EARLY BEGINNING •Concept development In the late 1960s India was going through profound changes; plastics had replaced mud, brass and silver;factory produced papers and woods took the place of sophisticated handicrafts and nylons displaced anancient heritage of cotton and silk. It was not only a battle between tradition and modernity; it was also aconfrontation of lifestyles and values. During this time, a small group who had benefited from unique opportunities of study and travel began tosee the depth of the craft and design heritage of their own country.
They discovered that India was areservoir of delicate skills. In an attempt to merge their international experiences together with the skills of their people, they became aware that contemporary designers must revitalize their own roots and identity. This was essential to take Indian creativity out into the world in such a way that benefited both craftsmenand the modern consumer. •Starting of the venture Ritu began with hand block printers and two tablets in a small village near Kolkata. Mrs. Kumar became the first woman to introduce the ‘boutique’ culture in India under the brand name ‘Ritu’.
Her work is constantly evolving within an aesthetic which is sophisticated both in the eastern and western sense, with each of her collections making a contemporary statement in a fast changing modern India. • Capital contribution less than Rs. 10,000 (estimated figure) T URNING POINT •Snapshots of struggle phase She initially faced many problems for her business as she was a woman entrepreneur, which was a rare phenomenon. Confronted with the challenges associated with trying to build a designer business in a country facing infrastructural woes.
Uninterrupted power, superior quality, and advanced skills were not easily available in India during the time. •Promotional strategies 1. No commodity production in beginning due to lack of infrastructure. 2. Diversification rather than expansion. 3. Pioneered the term 'fashion' in the Indian context. 4. Customer satisfaction. 5. Created an image of a reliable company. 6. Importance of hand-made products. 7. The mix and match of the Indian and western wear. JOURNEY TO SUCCESS •Entrepreneurial traits 1. Determination: She was determined to build up Ritu Kumar’s Boutique. . Confidence: Started business in relatively new innovative field. Her confidence was commendable when comparing with the challenges that she has faced. 3. Motivation: Employee feedbacks. Performance checks. Work place principles. 4. Risk Taker : Mrs. Kumar became the first woman to introduce the ‘boutique’ culture in India under the brand name ‘Ritu’. 5. Innovative: She was the one who put forth the importance of hand-made products as it can be as cost-effective as machine-made clothes and even more gorgeous than those. •Principles and policy of enterprise
Put forth the importance of hand-made products as it can be as cost-effective as machine-made clothes andeven more gorgeous than those. Ritu Kumar with her team of committed designers has come a long way. She has worked mainly on cotton, silk and leather and produced some of the country's most magnificentgarments. Ritu Kumar's specialty is traditional Indian clothes, which highlights on the textile andembroidery heritage of India. But the mix and match of the Indian and western wear also holds a primeposition in her work.
C ONTRIBUTION •Ethics and corporate social responsibility By putting forth the idea of hand made products she has employed many people, especially the women andthe lower segments, mostly in villages. She had also tried to keep the Indian values and ethics high, whichcan be seen throughout her work. “Ritu has pioneered the term 'fashion' in the Indian context, and more importantly has demonstrated that hand made products can be as profitable and even moreglamorous than those made by the machine.