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The pandemic may have thrown a harsher light on the need for sustainability and supporting local, but it’s a path that designer Rina Singh of Eka has always walked down.

Rina Singh
Rina Singh

Ever since she launched her label in 2011, Singh’s approach to design has stood out for its use of traditional local techniques, textiles, and craftsmanship; fabrics featuring natural fibres; and clothing that is timeless, languid, and easy. “During the pandemic, so many customers called me saying they have been living in their Eka clothes,” Singh tells me over a call. It’s this sort of non-seasonal appeal that also made her a finalist from India for the Prestigious Woolmark International Prize in 2016; last year she became the first Indian designer Japanese apparel giant Uniqlo collaborated with when they launched in India last year.

For Singh, the pandemic has been an eye-opener, making her shift her focus to the real things that count.

Lifestyle Asia India caught up with Rina Singh to understand what ‘the good life’ means to her today

Rina Singh

What would you call ‘the good life’ as of today?

The focus has shifted from financial and outwardly success as being ‘the good life’ to being healthy, content, and in a good space. Family, pets, home are central to creating a peaceful, meaningful every day. Time well spent, even if it was just cooking or walking the pets or re-doing the house (which I haven’t had a moment for in the last 8-10 years of work), reading (getting back to the hundreds of books that I have compulsively brought and couldn’t find time for), mental and physical detox, contributes to building a good life.

How has this idea changed for you over the past three-four months?

Ironically, COVID-19 has brought the focus back to where it should’ve always been. Health is, of course, a priority. The well-being of family and our entire team of 120 people. Living meaningfully, paying attention to what we create and consume in terms of work — it’s back to the basics.

Are there any activities you have pursued in the past three months, to create ‘the good life’ for yourself?

I started reading and writing. I used to always write little stories from my personal life experiences, but never with much thought. During this period, I found it cathartic. It is an outlet, an escape. Writing allows me to break from the everyday, constantly engage in learning, and create a meditative corner to cave in.

Rina Singh

Your ‘good life’ recommendations for the following:

A wellness tip: Yoga, though a really aggressive form. Meditation, and drinking a concoction of ginger, clove, cinnamon, lemon first thing early morning. Minimum eight hours of sleep. Getting off packaged and processed food, beauty, and medicine. Jogashala online yoga (only on Instagram). I also visit acupuncturist Aadil Khan in Nizamuddin West, Delhi.

A fitness routine that has worked for you: Power Yoga. Breathing and running a few days a week.

Restaurants you love to order in from: My neighbour’s organic food home delivery has been a saviour. I also love Greenr Cafe in Gurgaon.

Beauty routine that works for you: Aloe vera gel and tea bags for tired eyes.

Places you are looking to travel once you can: Tokyo, for sure. I used to travel extensively, and I won’t take it for granted again. All the places I go to for work, I will make sure to stay a few days extra, go around and absorb the places, instead of maniacally rushing in and out.

Gadgets and apps that make your life easier: I used to think Whatsapp, but as much as I depend on it, I realise the accessibility makes it also a reason for anxiety. Likewise, Instagram. But yes they do make life easier, especially the work from home.

Rina Singh
A model walks on the ramp for designer Rina Singh during Lakme Fashion Week 2018. Photo by Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

What have you started doing about sustainability or the environment?

We started making compost at home. I also put a lot of extra fabrics from the studio together, and sent it out to this organisation that was making masks to distribute to the poor. There are no more processed dairy and meat at home, a small step but conscious decision to build hygiene with the younger generation.

Work wise, I launched EKACO.RE, a diffusion line of re-purposed textiles and everyday staples from EKA. I think as we move out of the pandemic, the focus will change from seasonal fashion to meaningful, thoughtful, trans-seasonal and transitional lines.

Self-care, self-love – what does this mean to you?

My time. To walk, read, work out, giving myself a break from attending to family or any work routine.

Has the lockdown/pandemic made reassess your priorities?

Absolutely. Taking work easy, making health a priority, and aggressively working out — all of this used to come after work, which has been such a huge shift in my priority. Eating well, being conscious of my time spent consuming media, not being attached to the phone or laptop for constantly planning, reassessing work, what we want to create — everything is way clearer now.

What’s your main goal this year in creating ‘the good life’?

Bringing meaning to work, personal life, and health. Spending quality time with children, the pets, and the space I live in.

All images: Courtesy Rina Singh

Featured image: Keegan Crasto

Preetika Mathew
Mathew has been a part of the luxury industry for over a decade now, writing on arts & culture, style, and watches for some of the leading publications in the country. When not working, she spends time tracking counter-culture trends.