We need policies that can preserve these age-old traditions
Ritu Kumar (RK) strongly believes in preserving the legacy of art forms, and believes in heritage. Her work with artisans comes from this strong belief system. Her classic timeless styling and designs are instrumental in the revived and continued heritage for fine craftsmanship and slow fashion. When artisans create a timeless artefact with numerous hours of passionate labour, its exclusiveness, cultural beauty, ability to sustain craft community, and the cost of production makes it sustainable luxury.
What is your definition of sustainable luxury?
Luxury is the appreciation and use of an ensemble, a saree or a coat, accessory which does not date or lose the aesthetic appeal of the workmanship, concept and can come up as a cherished item even after the time and space where and when it was made is far gone. It necessarily for me is the work done with a combine of mind and hand, with exquisitely worked fabrics and embellished materials. Each country and space have their own classical luxury definitions.
Do you stand true to the international concept of sustainable luxury?
I do not know if there are two different concepts in national and international parlance. The product may differ, but the concept remains more or less the same for both places. It is timeless in styling a design with fine craftsmanship, exclusive, beautiful, and is expensive because of the quality and detailed workmanship.
How do you include sustainability in your designs?
I put in a large amount of time in either working at collections or researching them. India has rich textiles traditions with multiple dimensions such as embroideries, weaving, printing and dyeing. It requires significant research to use traditional crafts and engage the craftsmen and women to preserve the culture, and yet create a collection that is current. Research involves looking at history and background of the traditional craft, folk to multicolour repertoires, understanding cultural patterns in the society, exploring various disciplines of the arts and crafts, and put endless resources and sustainable energy in my collection.
What opportunities do you see in engaging artisans, design and handwork?
In the Indian context especially, luxury primarily engages the artisans of the textile craftsmanship. Some have a legacy of design and match it with the handwork which comes down many generations. We are very fortunate to have living crafts traditions and heritage that is one of largest in the world, and are valued too. We have in this country master craftspeople of the textile arts who still practice their crafts and produce luxury goods. Every state and region has its own traditional textiles art that are very rich and diverse. There is endless opportunity to engage diverse artisans and designs.
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