Sartorial Styles: Reshma Kunhi

Text by NAMITA GUPTA

They know their warp and weft and are creating drama with their simple yet stunning silhouettes. Chic, contemporary and creative, these fashion designers from Bengaluru are creating waves across the globe for their new-age concept-based couture clothing and innovative prêt wear. Aesthetic and awe-inspiring are some of the words that best describe their creations that can bring life to any wardrobe. Bridging gap between Indian and modern contemporary cuts and styles, these fashion designers are ahead of their game in designing timeless classics.

Reshma Kunhi

Where did you study design? How did you realise your affinity towards fashion design and take it up as a profession?

As a child I was always fond of clothes and my teenage years went reading fashion magazine and scouting for the latest brands. I was already aware of all international brands even at the age of 14. My mom wanted me to become a engineer or doctor and when I told her why can’t I take fashion she was like you want to become a tailor. I enrolled myself for a diploma course in fashion design at JD Institute which was after my college hours and later completed a course from NIFT. Within six months of joining the institute there was a state level fashion competition with big names from the fashion industry as judges. I stood first in the competition and after that there was no looking back.

How did you realise your affinity towards fashion design and take it up as a profession?

My journey towards fashion was not easy, my family never encouraged me. Being from an orthodox business family where all the men were into business and all the women housewives. I told my mom I didn’t want to get married early and my entire family was upset with me as I rejected a very good proposal. I was featured as a generation next designer and my work was featured in the same month in leading national publications. I also bagged an order from a US based firm for Rs 5 lakhs and I executed it when I was 19. It was only my mom, my best friend Vinay and Aloo aunty my neighbour who encouraged me. During this time I got an internship from an international design house who wanted me to go and work for them as they were taking part in Magic USA. After that internship I landed up working for various design houses like Gemo France, Vetir, Billabong, French Connection UK and others. I travelled across the globe Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong had become home then.

What were the challenges? How did you overcome them and how has the journey been since then?

I shifted back to India for a short while to help my brother in law as he had launched a kids wear label. When I was Bengaluru they asked me why don’t you do something here and I participated in Bangalore Fashion Week. The show was a hit but there were no bookings or orders. In international fashion weeks, the moment collection is showcased you get orders which never happened here. However I sent my collection portfolio to multi designer stores and a store from Hyderabad took my collection to retail there. I started with one tailor and master but because of many loyal clients and their friends and word of mouth I soon had over 100 people working for me. I now own three labels and retail across 12 cities in India under the labels Reshma Kunhi Couture, Barcode Design and Becoming by Reshma Kunhi.

What have been some of the highpoints in your design journey?

Standing first in the state level fashion competition became the turning point of my life.

Who are some of your biggest clients?

My biggest clients are all politician and industrialist wives, Future group and many multi designer stores who stock my label. All my clients have been very loyal to me. Also, almost all the South Indian celebrity stars love wearing my collections for all red carpet events and award functions.

 What are some of the striking features in your outfits that set them apart from the other designers in this space?

The most striking feature in my design is Fusion wear and handcrafted clothes which set them apart. I lay emphasis on our Indian crafstmanship even in my western ensembles. Our country is known for our handwork and I try to showcase that on my garments. Usually my clothes are for the modern women of today who is modern and yet is rooted to our culture.