Celebrity wife, TV host, fashion designer and animal lover; Poornima Indrajith wears many hats. But the mother of two looks but a teenager, with the sprightly energy of one too. She has to thank her genes for that, she says, while admitting that she doesn’t really balance all her roles perfectly. RITZ chats up with Poornima, wife of actor Indrajith, founder of the designer label Pranaah.
How did you hit upon the idea of launching your own clothing label?
Well, I always had an eye for fashion, and believed in giving my own touch to whatever I wore. And my film friends would invariably ransack my wardrobe when they wanted something good to wear, saying my clothes are ‘safe’ options. But I never thought I would end up with a brand of my own, and I have to thank social networking sites for that. I had been hosting TV shows and whatever I wore on screen was always my own. After Facebook came about, I realized that people were noticing what I wore, the colours, the way I accessorize or the way I cut the blouse.They began asking me where they could get the same stuff. And then it dawned on me that a label of my own is something achievable. So the only reaction I got when I finally launched Pranaah in September 2013 was ‘About time you did it’!
But then, it’s only after you launch a brand that the real work begins. Balancing creativity and economics is no easy task but I’m a fighter, and I push myself until I get what I want. I soon realised what I know of fashion is just an iota of what it is but the learning process has been continuous for me.
How different is it to be a fashion designer in Kerala now as opposed to 2013?
The exposure levels of the customers were way too less in 2013, and I had to educate them first on what they were offered. The positive was that I could give them what is not there in the market! The evolution of the fashion scene in Kerala in these three years has been phenomenal. Earlier, if you needed to travel and read to be updated on the latest trends, now a person sitting at home in Kochi can be aware of the latest in Milan, with the help of the internet. All you need is to be a learner.
Styles which were termed ridiculous have more acceptance now, but at the same time, the expectations too are higher. Competition is greater now, and every third day there is a new designer. You have to keep updating yourself, and like in every profession, it’s all about who does it fastest.
Does being a celeb wife give your label an edge over others? What would you describe your USP as?
To be very honest, people from the film industry form just 10 percent of my clientele. It’s just that their visibility is higher. Ultimately, what matters is creating an identity for your brand, which should personify what you are. I always feel it’s important to add a touch of the client’s personality to what they wear. If I try to convince someone to buy something just because it looks good on a celebrity, I’m losing a customer there. I always ensure the customer feels comfortable and confident in what they wear, primarily. It then becomes natural for them to look beautiful. And only when someone truly looks like they want to be seen in a particular outfit will others want to wear it.
You recently created Jacqueline Fernandez’s outfit for Asin’s reception… How easy is it for a South Indian designer to get into Bollywood?
It’s a fact that there are very few South Indian designers in Bollywood which is another ballgame altogether. When asked to design for Jacqueline, what I kept in mind was that the outfit should speak for my state as well as my brand, but at the same time make her look beautiful. I wanted to break the misconception that the only South Indian fabric is Kanjeevaram; there is Pochampalli, Chanderi and a host of other materials. And Kerala handloom is the most underrated fabric ever; it is comfortable to wear, the fall is perfect, and the colours are elegant, but we are used to associating it with older people.With a little experimentation, it can make even younger people gorgeous and that is what I tried on Jacqueline. What I kept in mind was that she should look prretty and she looked amazing! She did not take it off even for the afterparty.
Asin’s reception was exclusive for her close friends, and I too was fortunate enough to be one among them, to see Jacqueline being admired in her outfit.
What is your ultimate dream?
I plan to keep experimenting, keep learning, but I also feel strongly about the biggest issue which the world of fashion is facing today in India – the death of the handloom. It’s only natural that the powerloom has taken it over, and is less expensive as well, but disappearing with it is the entire tribe of patternmakers and embroiderers. A pattern maker’s son doesn’t want to be a pattern maker anymore, as the profession is looked down upon. There is little awareness about this issue, and eventually we will have designers passing out by the dozen with no one to stitch clothes for them. I hope to open a platform which will help revive the handloom industry.
So how do you and Indrajith manage to spend time together as a family, what with your respective careers on full swing?
Sometimes I do feel my plate is too full, and I have to admit I don’t do everything with 100 percent perfection. But I try, and my support system is great, for which I thank my stars every day. I am married to an artist, a family of artists, in fact, who respect art a lot. I am blessed in that regard. Both Indran and I are busy with our careers, but I feel it has made our girls, Prarthana and Nakshatra, more mature and self-sufficient. We are not able to spend as much quality time with our children as we would like to. We are not able to take them out to the beach or the park, and they are forced to spend time indoors a lot. But during vacations we make sure we go some place where we are outdoors all the time. I feel a bit sorry for Indran for he likes to bring them up in a rugged way, which he is not able to.
Yes, as part of the initiative, we were able to send 20 plus trucks of supplies during the Chennai floods, and it was an amazing experience to get calls from random strangers, thanking us. As for our dogs, they are the best example that Indian dogs make the most adorable pets. The female, Kili is deaf but she and the male, Puli make a hilarious duo. Children today are too dependant on technology and having two dogs in the house is the sole reason my kids stay in touch with touching, feeling, hugging, running around and jumping, I feel.