One of India’s foremost fashion designers and the pioneer of the boutique concept in the country, Ritu Kumar tells WCRC Leaders Asia that if she did not become a designer, she would have been a painter

ritu-kumarWhat inspired you to take up fashion designing as a career option?
I always wanted to study the history of art and drama which I did when I went to America on a scholarship during my time at Lady Irwing. When I returned to Kolkata, I pursued a course in Indian history and art and was exposed to museology – the study of museums. This is when my interest in crafts began and from there onwards it developed into fashion designing. I first started designing in 1966 and the inspiration was just my interest in various craft forms and that somehow developed into designing over time.

How would you describe Ritu Kumar, the fashion designer and entrepreneur?
For me, the biggest drive has always been to highlight the rich Indian cultural identity woven into the classicism of textile.ritu-1 It’s been a never-ending process over years to redefine the term “fashion” in the Indian context. We have demonstrated that Indian fashion is more than capable of holding on its own in the international arena of haute couture. And it’s my endeavor to continue to do that.

What, to you, is the essence of being a woman?
To me, the essence of being a woman is an individual who can play multiple roles throughout her life.

As a woman achiever yourself, what are your suggestions to a woman trying to set up an entrepreneurial venture?
One needs conviction to do this. So clarity is required within oneself. Do you really want to do this? Because, it’s hard on oneself and difficult to manage. It can also be very tiring if one has to play multiple roles and handle family responsibilities as well. Once one is clear that that’s the direction you want to take, then achieving is the second step.

If you had not been a designer, what would you have become?
I would have remained the same person but perhaps with painting as my career.