Designer Raghavendra Rathore has more than just bandhgalas on his mind. One such pursuit is redefining public spaces using localised ideas. Turn the page to find out more about his vision for the city’s coastline, created specially for mid-day’s readers
Q. Was there any particular reason to open store in Bandra?
A. The demand has quadrupled. We have a very keen Bollywood clientele, which is close to this area. This apart, youngsters who are making it big are also looking for a place where it’s possible to plan one’s entire wardrobe for the whole season; the store at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is too small for such a venture. This is more than clothes — it’s about gifting, product design, too. This kind of appeal emerges when you really know the customer.
Designer Raghavendra Rathore at his new Bandra store. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Q. Design is a vast topic. How do you decide on your projects?
A. The key is to customise — it could be designing a product for someone, real estate or designing services. We are working with a hotel chain where the senior management is given a 360-degree view of the world by training them with the help of videos and preparing them for the service sector. With this store, I am looking to connect with those clients. We work in a Lego fashion — interlinked talented personnel from across the globe who are brought in for different projects, and allotted to different projects we take up. Education is a pursuit I am really keen on. We also work with a trust and 15 to 30 % of our clothes are by the women who come from underprivileged backgrounds. We plan to get them to create gifts too.
The store will look at customising options for gifting, be it a golf stick or your summer wardrobe. A new addition to the accessories on offer are custom-designed buttons made of precious and semi-precious stones.
Q. How essential is design according to you?
A. One area that I have been speaking about for a while now is that is our government should have a Ministry of Design, or at least, a panel. If you take a simple example of flyovers in our country, they have no identity. Some of these are designed so badly that they end up disconnecting families that live around them. By design, I don’t want to put up some wallpaper or fancy lights. There was this one time when I took my son to the zoo in Delhi — we had the worst day of our lives because the zoo wasn’t controlled. Design applies to everything. Good designers from National Institute of Design and IIT go abroad because there is no market here. There is no structure that our next generation can grow up and be proud of.
Q. Where do you aim to take your company with the current set up?
A. Right now, the idea is to make the company, an Indian brand, luxurious. By this, I don’t mean that when you walk into a store, it must look like a Louis Vuitton store — you change the DNA of the brand to look like a French store. The idea is to empower design in general, like sugar — you can make a cake or a cup of tea — design too is like that. Our existence has been exactly like India’s mission to Mars. We do not have enough wealth to invest, just like when established international brands were looking for investors and partnerships to grow, 40 to 50 years ago. Innovation is important right now. You can’t be seen just as a clothing brand. That should be replaced.
At: Turner Road, near Moti Mahal, Bandra (W).
Rathore had earlier worked on the costumes of the 2007 film, Eklavya. This year, the designer worked on actor Fawad Khan’s (in pic) wardrobe for the film Khoobsurat.
He believes that youngsters can learn from the look created for the actor who plays a royal in the movie. “How do you take the Bandhgala jacket away from the Bandhgala — make it a two-button jacket. The idea was to give a modern wardrobe,” says Rathore.
The Mumbai Shield
with his dream of designing an airport someday, Rathore says plenty is possible with Mumbai’s public spaces. Taking this forward, he took up the challenge to re-define a public space in the city. As a mid-day exclusive, he created his vision for Marine Drive (on previous page). “Inspired by shields that were once used in the magnanimous battles of the erstwhile Maratha armies, ‘The Mumbai Shield’ is a concept that is designed to serve as a sanctuary for city dwellers and modern travellers.
Raghavendra Rathore’s impression of a redefined coastline of Marine Drive is influenced by Maratha warrior shields, and can serve as an educational, informative public space cum hotel
The model emphasises the value of culture via a proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum and other recreational opportunities for children such as an environmentally-controlled zoo, a sea world and a boutique hotel designed with a Maratha flavour. A cluster of three-four shields like the one depicted in the concept image can further connect to other clusters, depending on the budget and overall vision. Self-sustaining, powered and environmentally controlled, the project can be designed either to float or be embedded on the ocean floor.”