Indore’s Aartivijay Gupta’s rather unusual trajectory to fame has been sprinkled with stories of courage that took her from a traditional, small town Marwari girl to an astute businesswoman
By Asmita Aggarwal
She grew up in the non-descript, two tier city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, where there was no exposure to fashion. And that’s not all. She came from an orthodox Marwari family where girls got married by the time they were 21, and if by 24 they weren’t hooked, they were thought to be too old to ever find a befitting match. Forget working, none of the women or men ever did jobs, the only option was the family business. So from a big, joint family, which was into automobiles and finance, Aartivijay Gupta today is single, unmarried and running a rather successful business, alone in Mumbai. Would you call this serendipity or sheer luck?
It was just plain, old courage, one could deduce, as the designer, fought against odds to declare herself financially independent. “I was in class 10 when I enrolled myself in a cutting class for the first time in school, as I was fascinated by design. It was a red, polka, bias skirt that I made, which was appreciated by peers and teachers. I knew then what I wanted to do, but there were no fashion colleges in Indore, so I applied to NIFT (Delhi) got through, but my parents thought it was an unsafe city for a girl alone, so I took a transfer to NIFT (Mumbai),” she says.
NIFT gave her the tools and freedom to think and that also kind of pushed her to such an extent that she says after a jury presentation she was so ‘badly massacred’ that she was left was little self-confidence. “But I did know that it was part of the learning process,” she smiles. After that she worked for Globus, (2005-2007) a pret brand where one style had 5,000 pieces or more and there was no place for inventiveness or experimentation, as the numbers and money invested was monumental and meant for the masses. “It was the need to do something out-of-the-box that pushed me to launch my own label in 2009 and the also my participation at the Dubai Fashion Week that gave me the chance to get Middle-East buyers and understand their needs,” she explains.
Pret became her mainstay, but it came with a twist, where prints ruled and easy fabrics and anti-fit was the order of the day. She created a line of modern, functional clothes out of Chanderi, silk, cotton, that were easy-to-wear and priced between Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 (Rs 15,000 was max). “I am not a graphic designer so my prints were quite raw, so rather than looking digital, they look unpolished and therein lies their appeal,” she confesses.
For AIFW SS’18 where she is a first timer, Aartivijay, is inspired by what you learn in an art school, so the entire process is chronicled through interesting storytelling and of course, prints. From learning how to hold a pencil, to colour combinations, colour charts, sketches, crayon blending and face drawings, to the final amateur painting, this line has it all. “We always do a bit of boxy cuts, so cotton linens work well. I also have the hand print (showing how fingers move) to scribbles and paint brush stripes, in sync with the narrative,” she adds.
Though Aartivijay keeps her silhouettes minimal, she does play with gathers, last season they were on the sides (to hide the bulk on the posterior), this time they come in the front to add a distinct design element. “I started doing exhibitions as I had no money to invest in fashion weeks or stalls, and what I understood is that women look for originality and something that they can wash and wear, which also has a design edge, nothing too complicated, but yes a pleasing fit is imperative, this became my USP. I do not keep anything over-the-top, maybe that’s why today I could open a store at Peddar Road, Mumbai and hope to expand someday,” she says.
Interestingly, she has other dreams as well and this includes an accessories line of bags that shoes that she attempted to do in the year 2014 for her show, but with a small team and budgets it was tough to sustain. “I do want to carry that forward and maybe one day, explore this segment,” she concludes.