Paisley prints, age-old embroideries and textile revivalism have one thing in common: designer Ritu Kumar. The veteran designer’s eponymous label has been associated with its heritage-driven identity for the past five decades but as times change, its offering has been evolving as well. In a first of many sorts, the design house will now be extending its sartorial signature to encompass everyday essentials and relaxed casuals under Label Basics.
For Amrish Kumar, managing director of Ritu Kumar, the newest addition to the roster was prompted by the changed definition of dressing up during the pandemic. “Given the spike in working from home and athleisure, we’ve witnessed an increasingly functional approach being adopted to fashion. Label Basics bridges the gap between work and leisure with quality, functional pieces,” he explains.
The lineup for the new label is a nod to the revised priorities of homebound consumers. “Versatile pieces that are stylish yet comfortable are the new must-haves for the work-from-home generation. Think formal shirts with detailing, fuss-free dresses, bottoms and co-ord sets—all pointing to a sense of minimalism with well-cut shapes and quality materials,” he adds. The label accordingly plays host to a functional yet fashionable array of T-shirts, co-ord sets and separates crafted from cotton voile, poplin, rayon moss and chiffon. The summer-friendly maxis are ideal for injecting some barefoot glamour into your at-home wardrobe, but can be easily layered for a night out on the town.
While the new collection may be a departure from the brand’s conventional fare, Kumar believes that it is evocative of a larger paradigm shift in the industry. “Dressing down stylishly has now become central to our work-from-home philosophy. While comfort and function were attributes previously kept ensconced in our homes, they are now accepted in work and public. As a brand, we have realised that business models need to be agile and willing to accommodate such transitions,” he reflects.
As the world of fashion pivots towards a comfort-first approach, he advocates that high functionality will drive the future of fashion. The transition has posed an interesting puzzle for the industry—while consumers respond to innovation and fresh ideas, purchases are now being made with a mindful approach for longevity as opposed to one-time wear pieces. So, how can brands look to thrive in the new normal? At the end of the day, Kumar believes that change is the only constant. “We can speculate all we look like, but what the future holds for this industry is a matter that only time will tell.”
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