Delhi-based designer Anuradha Ramam is officially foraying into men’s wear. Officially because she had been as and when she had mood swings creating outfits for select men but now she has just started creating in bulk for anyone who takes fancy of her Ikkat shirts, ties and other garments which have imprint of unique craftsmanship of indigenous weavers from down South and other parts of the country.
This is a conscious-decision on the designer’s part, who accidentally ventured into the world of fashion but believes in pursuing it with a cause.
“I have finally made an entry into the domain of men. Over the years, I have been inundated with enquiries when I would be making a foray into the men’s wear. For a long time, I have been creating customised dresses but not on a regular basis. So I gave a serious thought to this question why I cannot design for men,” says the designer, whose men’s wear collection is the pride of place in her showrooms at Shahpur Jat and Meharchand Market.
And given the designer’s penchant for showcasing the strength of artisans in hand block prints in saris, salwar kameez and anarkalis, Anuradha is replicating craftsmanship of karigars in the men’s wear too. The methodology to venture into the men’s arena is similar to her launch of women’s wear about a decade ago – resuscitating the dying crafts and providing livelihood to the weaving community.
Anuradha has a genuine reason for repeating the same formula. When artisans are giving their best to make her label, which goes by her nomenclature, a name to be reckoned with then why cannot she reciprocate by providing them a platform where their work “is appraised by those in the business of garments and gets appreciation, reward and recognition.”
“It is a mutual relationship between me and my weavers in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat,” she says.
To ensure that each garment is meticulously crafted to showcase its ethnicity is a painstaking process but the designer is game. “I am showcasing a piece of India. Eventually, my goal is to provide livelihood opportunities for weavers so that they continue working in their ancestral profession. Through their collaborative venture with me, they are able to look after themselves and their families. So my association with them is like a marriage; it is a kind of commitment. I have taken responsibility of weavers and their families and I cannot run away or divorce them from any of my projects.”
But does she seriously think that she can give competition to the likes of Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani and J J Valaya, who are already well entrenched in the men’s wear?
“There is no question of competing with them because I am catering to a niche market. If your clients are lovers of Mughlai cuisine then you would take them out to a restaurant specialising in non-vegetarian tandoor-based preparations. On the other hand, if your clients prefer South India delicacies, then you will offer them food eaten in Southern States. Anyone who shops from Fabindia would never go to Rohit Bal or vice versa. While my dresses are hand woven, these designers rely on machine-made fabric.”
Anuradha believes in fashion with a cause where both the producer as well as those working under the label collaborate in a mutually desired arrangement and benefit monetarily as well as their popularity soars.