- New UserRegister now and make the most of My Account.
Mahnum Najaf Sayal in conversation with Riya Gupta the brain behind the label Studio RIGU. Gupta has broken people’s preconceived notions with her forward-thinking footing. She highly believes in ‘empowered femineity’ and creating fuss-free modern luxe. Gupta’s fun and quirky silhouettes mixed with psychedelic prints and tie-dye transcend trends through minimalism.
1). Tell us briefly about your early years as a child, and your educational background.
Born and bred in New Delhi, I studied Design and Development at the London College of Fashion. I spent my college years in London, where I gained a wide range of experience under the guidance of diverse designers like Giles Deacon, Manish Arora, and Jade Kang. My foray into Fashion began at a very early age.
2). How did the idea of Studio RIGU come into existence? What was the inspiration behind it?
After returning to my hometown, I realized a lack in the availability of comfortable, formal wear for the modern woman. There was a sudden shift in the Indian demographics and a need for a Modern, updated wardrobe for the conscious woman. This gap drew my attention and hence, gave birth to Studio RIGU. We began interacting with our friends and family and found-out the difficulties they faced in finding well-fitted, formal clothes with a thoughtful design.
Thus, transcending trends, independent and modern, we aimed to provide transformative clothing to meet the everyday needs of the globetrotting woman. We decided to tap this niche segment to create ‘Everyday Luxury’ with a modern sensibility by incorporating calculated yet eccentric prints and thoughtful detailing.
3). What challenges did you face while bringing your dream come alive?
Indian design industry is heavily biased towards Indian silhouettes, embroideries and craftsmanship. To be able to create a ready-to-wear brand that focuses equally on craft, fabric and silhouette yet promotes mindful luxury was a challenge. Sustainability in India means monochrome shades of cotton and linen. To make the customer understand that wary and conscious designs can be fun and playful took a while.
4). Your pieces resonate with psychedelic art, and tie-and-dye also dominates your design philosophy. Both were born in the 1960s. So, was that a conscious decision taking fashion notes and inspiration from the 1960s, or a total coincidence?
Our creative style is eccentric yet modern. We emphasize color and vibrant prints which resonate back to our Indian roots. But our silhouettes are clean, practical, and fuss-free to take our customers from day to night. We strive to achieve a balance between traditional and modern. The resonance to the 1960s is a subconscious choice. You would also notice the same in the styling of our shoots as well as the accessories used.
5). Tell us about the idea behind the women or ‘the tribe of RIGU’ – who do you create the pieces for, and what qualities do you keep in mind while designing for them?
Our target market comprises of women who like savoring the simple pleasures of navigating one's daily life in an understated, graceful way. Their life centers around the way they dress, not for rare, special occasions, but for the everyday. What she puts on at 7 a.m. needs to carry her through an entire 14-hour day — from the office to dinner or drinks.
Her wardrobe requires a certain amount of flexibility, imbued with a sanguine and purposeful spirit, and artfully designed with comfort in mind, to meet the desires and identities of today. She is a multi-tasker, not afraid to be herself, and that's what sets her apart. She knows how to enjoy every moment and balance her day-to-day life.
6). What drives you season after season to design, especially when the world has been hit by inflation?
The new age customer is more aware, more conscious, and willing to experiment more with their sartorial choices. They are more in lieu of their personality and with a visual identity as strong as ours, they beautifully adapt to that to make the clothes their own and feel empowered. With the coming of social media, our reach is not only limited to India but also slowly spreading worldwide which allows us to reach a wider customer base and share our story. So, a brand that started as a one-woman army has now gradually turned into a team of 15 with the help of a band of women who not only wear RIGU but support RIGU diligently as well. Hence, it’s our customers and their needs that help us to continue designing season after season.
7). Do you think the impact the pandemic left is still there in terms of buying and selling?
I think the Fashion Industry in India is witnessing a turning point, especially after the pandemic between an old-industry and a new one. India has an enormous economic reservoir in the craft. A massive buying power that was not being harnessed earlier. But I've noticed a positive conscious change now. There is a conscious shift to homegrown labels as the new-age woman is more independent and wants to stand out in a crowd. Due to travel restrictions in the past, there was a sudden boom that the homegrown brands witnessed and still are. Earlier, it was hampered by global competition.
8). Are you working on a new collection? If yes, then please tell us briefly about the idea behind it and its theme.
We are launching our new Festive collection named Amazonico’23. The theme is inspired by the infinite beauty and bounds and the mysterious creatures found in the Amazon Forest. This collection is an amalgamation of sassy and chic. It is a mix of formal and easy to wear silhouettes in bold graphic prints.
9). Tell us what trends you predict for the next year?
Tone on Tone solids and a shift towards more Athluxe wear.
10). Tell us what mistakes you think women generally make in fashion or while styling an outfit? What advice would you give them?
Buying a size down when they should buy a size up. Women need to stop body shaming themselves. They need to start feeling confident in all shapes and sizes.
11). Who do you think is the King or the Queen of couture, and why?
Undoubtedly, Valentino because even though couture is traditional, Valentino has made it modern. It’s a perfect balance between the old-age world and the new.
12). Change is the only constant in life. We’re living in a world of ‘Gen Z’ – what fashion advice would you give the lot that’s aspiring to be fashion designers? Also, how relevant would you think your designs are to this generation?
One advice that I would give fashion designers is to not take trends or fads very seriously. They should design for longevity. Our designers have paved a niche for themselves, where we see women of all ages embrace color and have fun, which I think is of utmost importance in today’s mood.
13). Do you have a digital approach for your brand? Tell us about it and what impact has made on Studio RIGU.
Yes, we do. We live in a digital world. Our digital approach is to be transparent and interactive.
Show more of the women who wear RIGU. But at the same time, we are trying to grow a wholesome brand that if one day Instagram crashes we are still relevant.
14). Tell us who Riya Gupta is? Is she the same as Riya the designer, or a completely different person?
I, as a person and as a designer is interlinked. One won’t be without the other. I think in color and design and live in technicolor.
15). Do you think online shopping or e-commerce has made a big impact in the world of high fashion?
Yes, it has. It has made consumers from all over the world a part of our community. We are no longer just catering to India but to a global market.
16). Considering you’ve been in the industry for the past five years, what phase would you place your label to be in?
We are in the phase of doing new things, collaborating with creatives from different fields, engaging with customers from all walks of life. Each day if a new challenge and a stepping stone to reach our goal.
17). I hope you had fun with this interview. So far, how has it been with our platform Meraki?
Yes, I did. We're looking forward to tapping and venturing into a new market with Meraki.