Richa Aggarwal graduated from NIFT Bangalore in 2007 with the Best design collection award. She was awarded the JN Tata scholarship in 2010 to pursue her master from the prestigious University of Southampton, UK where she received the outstanding scholar award for her graduation collection. Label Richa Aggarwal showcased its debut collection in Lakme Fashion week Winter Festive’12, India. Recognized as the new upcoming designer to watch out for by Vogue India, Richa’s work has received appreciation in both national and international press. Harper’s bazaar reckoned her as the ‘new talent’.
The soul of the label lies in looking backwards as much as forward by reinterpreting the use of various traditional skills with contemporary vision. The brand draws its inspiration and elements from the vibrant culture and colorful streets of India. It uses fashion as a cultural translator where new technology meets old world craftsmanship. The brand celebrates the craft of intricate needlework, creative pattern making and fine tailoring by working collaboratively with Karigars, sharing common passion for love to create!
The label aims to urbanize handicrafts and empower artisans by providing much needed innovation in design. Recently we collaborated with a New Delhi based NGO, Adhya crafts, for designing a range of lifestyle products. The idea is to blend tradition with a sense of eccentricity and revolution of new age, by using fabrics as a tool that is able to travel through time. The shapes convey the modern ease creating fashion for the urban nomad, who is on the move but always at home.
Hi Richa! What are you doing now?
I am all geared up to work on my next collection and waiting for all the festivities to start here in Delhi soon. Diwali is round the corner, really excited for it!
What do you like the most about being a fashion designer?
At least among my friends and immediate family, everyone looks forward to meeting/seeing me and getting the dope on the latest trends, what is in and all the blingy gossip. Strangely, I am the page three personality of the gang, which I secretly enjoy a lot.
“I am so proud to be born here. Trust me! There is so much heritage when it comes to art and textile in India.”
You started the brand three years ago. What has been the biggest challenge so far?
I have faced so many challenges. I feel every new venture/start up faces it at every step. Also I believe its pretty easy to launch a label but its really challenging to sustain it. Therefore, I would say my biggest challenge, as a designer is to keep the ball rolling. Every collection has to be bigger and better than the previous one. I have to remain true to my sensibility and yet come out with something exciting every time. The retail prices have to be competitive. All of this really adds up to the stress every designer faces these days.
What is the philosophy behind your brand?
The brand draws its inspiration and elements from the vibrant culture and colorful streets of India. It uses fashion as a cultural translator where technology meets the old world craftsmanship. I love juxtaposing odds, also especially coming from India I love how this country coexist in the most difficult of situations. So the philosophy would be ‘harmony in contrast’.
The tradition of your country plays a big role in your work. Tell us more about how you are translating your heritage into your designs.
I am so proud to be born here. Trust me! There is so much heritage when it comes to art and textile in India. Most of it is not restored properly and our famous textiles and crafts are dying. There are lots of Indian designers who are working towards reviving the crafts and using traditional fabrics and techniques.
Whereas, in my work I like to explore the other possibility of using the same techniques but giving it an updated context. Say for example, the traditional craft of needle punching which was very famous in Punjab, India has become only restricted to making rugs/throws these days. We got our handwork technicians learn this technique and then updated it with using different yarns/motifs/color combinations on the textile which were then used for the collection.
What was the concept behind SS15?
My SS’15 collection was inspired by this one photograph, which I stumbled upon a brochure. It was an image shot by English photographer Karen Knorr from her ‘India Song’ series, for which I believe she was also awarded. The images in her series tried to explore the remnants of culturally rich heritage sites of Rajasthan and their relationship with animals picked from the folkloric narratives of Indian culture. I researched into it and several other subjects became part of inspiration and prompted me to make this collection.
This collection celebrates both architecture and wildlife. Techniques like needle punching and applique are used on various fabric bases to create innovative heirlooms. Various animals represented in folktales double up as the motifs for embroideries and surface developments. This collection embodies the strange ambiguity of nature and heritage.
What kind of fabrics do you prefer to work with?
I love to experiment with combining unexpected fabrics together. So I love mixing the odds, eg block printed cottons and chanderi silks with a nylon neoprene or a novelty knitted fabric. Also, I prefer to work with Indian produced hand made fabrics than the machine/mill made ones.
Could you reveal something about your next collection?
I am still working on it 😉 Its definitely inspired from SS’15 collection. We are taking it forward and working on engineering this new textile, which is very exciting. Its very strong on colors and patterns this time.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t know where I will be in next 5 months guys! I think everything is changing at such a fast pace so I really can’t imagine setting a 5 year path/goal. I definitely see myself doing clothes. But, with such advancement in technology maybe it could be sprayed on clothes or disposable ones, that I don’t know.