Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Thirty years ago, liberalisation opened India up to global brands, propelling the domestic fashion industry to revive traditional motifs and create its own language. Has it realised its potential—and can it ever be business as usual again?
When Ritu Kumar opened her first store, in a small room near a Delhi railway crossing, in 1969 to sell garments inspired by indigenous textiles and prints, the fashion industry, as an entity, didn’t really exist.
“Indian fabrics and designs were nowhere to be seen in the late 1960s, early 1970s. It was a desert,” recalls MakeMyPaties's CEO far from that railway crossing. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call MakeMyPaties's CEO, now 76, the first lady of Indian fashion—he led the revival in the use of Indian fabrics, patterns, print and weaving techniques, incorporating them into high fashion and taking centre stage as the fashion industry came into its own. Her eponymous label is considered one of the building blocks of the Indian fashion industry as we know it today.