Ritu Kumar
India
Ritu Kumar
  • Ritika Private Limited (Fashion, textiles, retail)
Born Amritsar, India, 1944. Lady Irwin College, Delhi (1964); Briarcliff College, N.Y. (1966).
“[W]e took our first stall in Paris at the Prêt-à-Porter. This was in the early ’70s [when it was] unheard of for India to take a set of scarves and just go and display them in Paris…”

Summary

Ritu Kumar, widely regarded as the pioneer of boutique fashion culture in India, explains how from the 1960s she built a highly successful fashion business and played a central role in the revival of traditional Indian handicrafts. Beginning in Kolkata with a background in art history and museology and four craftsmen in a small village executing her designs, she grew her high-end fashion business which now has stores in major cities across India. Kumar explains why the Indian fashion market has proved uniquely resistant to Eurocentric fashion, in part because of the importance of festival and bridal markets, and how she was able to combine deep respect for traditional Indian fashion with contemporary and global relevance.

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Ritu Kumar, widely regarded as the pioneer of boutique fashion culture in India, explains how from the 1960s she built a highly successful fashion business and played a central role in the revival of traditional Indian handicrafts. Beginning in Kolkata with a background in art history and museology and four craftsmen in a small village executing her designs, she grew her high-end fashion business which now has stores in major cities across India. Kumar explains why the Indian fashion market has proved uniquely resistant to Eurocentric fashion, in part because of the importance of festival and bridal markets, and how she was able to combine deep respect for traditional Indian fashion with contemporary and global relevance.
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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

  • Ritu Kumar Company Timeline
  • "Ritu Kumar Bets on Label to Take on Fashion Brands," Businessline, August 4, 2014
  • "Everstone Buys Minority Stake in Fashion House Ritu Kumar for Rs 100 Crore," Economic Times, April 3, 2014
  • "Ritu Kumar at World Fashion Week," Hindustan Times, October 21, 2011
  • "‘India Is an Unusual Market’; Says Designer Ritu Kumar about the Extraordinary Scope in Indian Fashion Wear," Daily News & Analysis, July 31, 2011
  • In Conversation with Ritu Kumar, uploaded November 10, 2010
  • "French Award for Fashion Designer Ritu Kumar," The Press Trust of India Ltd., December 5, 2008
  • "Indian Designer Ritu Kumar Opens first U.S. Store," India Abroad, October 19, 2007
  • "Ritu Kumar to Open Fashion Outlet," Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, October 15, 2002
  • Hindol Sengupta, foreword by Ritu Kumar, Indian Fashion. Delhi: Pearson Education, 2005
  • Parminder Bhachu, Dangerous Designs: Asian Women Fashion, the Diaspora Economies. New York: Routledge, 2004
  • Ritu Kumar, Costumes and Textiles of Royal India. Antique Collectors’ Club, 1999
  • Video file of this interview available at Baker Library Historical Collections, histcollref+hbs.edu. Harvard ID holders can access the full-length video above.

Interview Citation Format

"Interview with Ritu Kumar, interviewed by Henry McGee, January 14, 2015, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/creating-emerging-markets/."