Two designers Ritika Mirchandani and Bhumika Sharma reveal how their mothers shaped their creative destiny motivating them to launch eponymous labels with a focus on creating a unique language of prints
By Asmita Aggarwal
The best training is the one you get at home, as it is unrehearsed, straight from the heart and specially when your mother is involved, that’s why Ritika Mirchandani counts it as the most sacred experience. Usha, her mother ran a successful clothing business for 25 years of Indian wear, in Mumbai, without any formal fashion school training, which motivated Ritika to launch her label in 2011, armed with a degree from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles.
Ritika wanted to do something in her distinct style, watching her mom run a business with immense patience, she interned with Ralph Lauren and Cynthia Rowley to learn the ropes in the US before returning to India. Marketing, image building, interacting with customers and having your ear to the ground are some of the crucial learnings which went a long way in her orientation.
Design One, the exhibition paved the way, helping her gain confidence in the D2C segment, where her first line of 50 ensembles sold out, and it has been 12 years since then that led Ritika to slowly win a growing retail presence.
Structured offerings infused with geometry, art deco, tonal, softer hues, strong shoulder pads, lehenga saris, flattering shapes form the core. Intricate handwork, blazers with shararas sans Indian motifs. Rather she serenaded the Eiffel tower to buildings in Byculla, and not the predictable paisleys. “Deconstructed florals, break down the set patterns to create new ones has been the process we follow, this year we channel the theme of celebration after years of darkness and anxiety,” says Ritika.
The jaali surface textures, with chiffon, net, georgettes, emblazoned with signature bugle beads blends in the colourful thread work. “I was five years old when I knew I wanted to work in fashion, even when I studied in Woodstock, boarding in Mussoorie, the vision was clear. Indian wear is quite dynamic, where Western sensibilities have entered the Indian space, with greater exposure levels due to travel and social media. I would have to say Bollywood is a game changer and the reach of stars cannot be discounted,” she concludes.
“Experience is the biggest teacher”
Eight years back inspired by her mother’s creative genius, Bhumika Sharma, who comes from a business family which exports spices, was initiated into this by design not by accident. Even though the self-taught designer pursued a degree in commerce from Delhi University her heart was in fashion. Pernia’s Pop Up shop was her first outing, in 2015, and embroideries her forte, as her mom ran a shawl production unit. “My mom was an interior designer and had a remarkable understanding of colours, finish and quality, which she never professionally pursued as she wanted to concentrate on our upbringing. I travelled with her to various exhibitions where her odhnis won a fan following,” she smiles adding, “my dad would often tell me experience is the biggest teacher. Now I can deal with pressure better and not get overwhelmed by it, the journey makes you stronger.”
Enjoying the process of making swatches, she wanted to learn the business aspect as well, Pearl Academy proved to be a great resource for fashion marketing. Big on prints and overlaid with embroidery, combined with French knots and pearls, as well as digital printing her ensembles are modern but exude a youthful energy. Silk organzas give you the freedom to innovate, with Victorian prints, ivories and paisleys being her signature.
This is in continuation of her “Gulbahar” line showcased last season, updated with mirror work, silver and gold accents. “Young audiences like to dress easily, the pre-stitched sari offers that comfort, but the most striking part is the addition of bold fabric belts that accentuate the appeal of the ensemble,” she confirms. Anarkalis which can be worn as dresses, slip on pants and tops, cape sets as well as skirts with embellished bustiers along with jackets and shararas which can be mixed and matched with an existing wardrobe offer multiplicity of use.
“Post-Covid there is a huge appreciation for dressing up even if it is just a dinner date, pooja, wedding due to the repression for two years and the severity of the lockdown. It is easy to get lost in the sea of designers, but the effort has always been to maintain my individuality,” she concludes.