Ritu Kumar: Women Entrepreneur & Indian Fashion Designer
As we all know – Ritu Kumar is an Indian fashion designer. However, what we do not know is that, she is the pioneer of the Organized & Boutique-cultured Fashion Industry in India.
Ritu Kumar Label
Currently, she is running three Labels named, ‘Ritu Kumar’, ‘Ri’, Ritu Kumar Home’ and ‘LABEL Ritu Kumar.
Early life and education:
Ritu was born on 11th November 1944 in Amritsar, India. She came from a middle class family who believes in ideals & values.
In 1964, she completed her graduation from Lady Irwin College. At Lady Irwin College, she met & married Shashi Kumar.
In 1966, after completing graduation she went to from Briarcliff College, New York for higher education in Theatre and History of Art.
After returning to India, she studied museology at the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art, part of the University of Calcutta.
The couple have two sons named Ashvin Kumar & Amrish Kumar. Ashvin Kumar is the youngest Indian writer/director to be nominated for an Academy Award and Amrish Kumar is the founder of their Label.
Ritu began her fashion business in Kolkatta. She started her business with two small tables & hand-block printing techniques.
Her first set of sarees were purely accident! At the early stage of her business, she discovered different types of dying embroideries and prints.
She had never seen this world before. During 1960s & 70s, she started with evening clothes & bridal wear. Eventually, she moved into the international market succeeding two decades.
She held her first exhibition at Hotel Park in Calcutta. It turned out to become a huge success. It also opened doors to multiple opportunities. Soon after that she opened her first small retail space.
With that, she became the first lady to introduce the ‘boutique’ culture in India under the brand name ‘Ritu’. Kumar’s company started her shop in India & later on, they opened their branches in London, New York & Paris.
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After three years, in 1999, London branch closed. Her company’s annual turnover reached to approx. 10 million that was the highest of any Indian fashion outlet.
In the early 70s, during her travels, she discovered embroiders of Ranihati. Now it is known as Zardozi, which once was owned by Mughal emperors.
Her family was her team. Her husband made her business commercially successful with his business background.
In addition, her children used to accompany her to all the sites. During her third exhibition of sarees in Uttar Pradesh, she managed to sell only two sarees to her friends.
Launch first Book & Label
At that time fashion, itself was a huge challenge. She received a lot of criticism for her works. In 1999, she wrote a book called “Costumes and Textiles of Royal India”. Ritu launched the “Label” line in partnership with her son Amrish in 2020.
Ritu Kumar’s Designs:
Her designs focus on natural fabrics with traditional printing and weaving techniques. She included western elements to her designs.
Celebrities are big fan of her designs. Some of them are Priyanka Chopra, Princess Diana, Lara Dutta, MAdhuri Dixit Nene, Madhur Jaffrey, Deepika Padukone, Dia Mirza, Vidya Balan, Aishwarya Rai and many more.
Now, Ritu Kumar the brand has raised Rs.100 cr. from Everstone. Everstone is a leading Indian and South East Asian private equity investor, for an undisclosed minority stake.
Ritu has gone on to expand to 35 stores globally. Today under the name of Ritika Pvt. Ltd., they have two main production centres in Kolkatta & Gurgaon. They are equipped with in-house printing, tailoring, finishing and quality control facilities.
Awards & Recognition:
- In 2013, she was honoured with the Padma Shri award, India’s 4th highest civilian award, for her exceptional and distinguished service in the field of fashion, textile and craftsmanship. She also received the “Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award” for her achievements and contribution in the field of fashion.
- Again, in 2013, she received the “Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Award” for Excellence in Fashion Retail by the ASSOCHAM Ladies League.
- In 2012, she got the “Achievement Award” at the L’oreal Paris Femina Women’s Awards.
- In 1998, the PHD – Chamber of Commerce, honoured her with “The Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Award”.
In the year 2019, the domain ritukumar.com attracted 1,658,109 users. The company has also invested on server to handle excessive traffic during wedding seasons in India.
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Digital Impressions designed the website of Ritu Kumar. When she is not working, she chooses to go on a family vacations or just have discussions with her sons over art and books.