As the post-pandemic fashionscape embraces the new realities of the business, approaching Indian crafts, celebrating them, and nurturing them becomes significant. One such label aligning itself on the same trajectory is Itrh.
Founded by Ridhi Bansal Varma and veteran stylist Mohit Rai it is imaging tradition through a modern lens, with their rendition, being rooted in old-school, regal charm. Imagine decadent lehengas in gold and silver paired with handpainted lightweight dupattas featuring the best of Madhubani paintings. It is just a peek into Itrh’s repository of inspiration which is brimming with ideas. In terms of design intervention, they have created an entire crushed fabric made of lampi-weaving.
Launched in 2019, the brand has set a strong tone with its intricately done handwoven zari lehengas, blouses, and dupattas juxtaposed with a striking palette of whites, creams, and neons. Besides this, their chanderi kurtas fusing a spectrum of Indian techniques such as chikankaari, khadi jaal block print and mukaish, woven zari saris and shararas sets featuring lampi gota stripes have also garnered the attention of the leading fashion fixtures. From Sonam Kapoor, Malaika Arora Khan, Kareena Kapoor to Kajol, some of Bollywood’s leading ladies have already embraced the label.
One scroll down their Instagram will help you understand Itrh’s ethos – unapologetic, grand, and colourful. The label’s founder- designer Ridhi Bansal Varma and creative director Mohit Rai gave us a complete low-down on their inspiration and what makes Itrh relevant in the current market.
On their idea behind Itrh
Ridhi Bansal Varma: The ethnic market has been the most saturated in our country since the beginning of time in the organised designer sector and more so through the unorganised local markets. As a country, we’ve always had a flair for customisation and bespoke tailoring, even at the grassroots levels.
Itrh stands for a new kind of maximalism that is old in its outlook. As the people behind the brand, we’ve always been aligned with a yearning for an old royally-driven aesthetic but in the true sense of royalty in India, which is about textile, gheras, fabric manipulation, and just a love for the grandiose. Personally we saw a shift in the market aesthetic and also a gap where we could fit right in.
On their creative process
Mohit Rai: Since there’s two of us involved in the brand, it’s quite crazy. A simple button can start a debate and a fabric can inspire an entire collection. Also, we are all about separates. No one should be forced to buy entire ensembles if they don’t need them. Just a beautifully painted dupatta is enough if you already have an anarkali to pair it with. People should be encouraged to buy separates, in a craft, and to wear them with their previously owned pieces.
On refurbishing traditional techniques for the current market
Ridhi Bansal Varma: Crafts are what drive us. Our decision to incorporate crafts in each and every one of our outfits was our best one yet. Also, our effort to contemporaries them has been through the use of textiles and silhouettes. All our clients are quite discerning and quite informed about the crafts. We’ve seemed to touch those markets so far, and we’re happy with our client base—they understand the value of textiles and don’t expect everything to be unnecessarily covered in resham or zari.
Also, our biggest intervention was to achieve an entire crushed fabric made of lampi-weaving, which seemed like such a simple idea but led us to apply for a design patent.
On how millennials can embrace the new ethnic
Mohit Rai: Indian costume is so amazing. We’d be shocked if anyone is intimidated by it. Ours is the only country in the world where a piece of our national costume, the sari, is worn by women to all segments of society, any and every occasion. So go for it, wear the outfits as separates. We are more than happy to encourage people to adapt our outfits to whichever way they want. Mix your western separates or wear them with your heirloom jewellery or and dupattas. It makes you and your possessions more empowered and versatile.
On their understanding of ‘vocal for local’
Ridhi Bansal Varma: Everything we do is a handmade masterpiece. Be it the painted textiles of Madhubani or kalamkari or hand-woven lampi in real zari, the multiple new techniques we are introducing going forward. It is the need of the hour—we have to now, more than ever, support our economy and give back to the people who have supported our design industry since the beginning.
On the changing consumer mindset post-COVID-19
Mohit Rai: I think, most importantly, everyone has to come to an understanding that we cannot take our environment for granted anymore. We have to reduce our carbon footprint as an industry, and that will only stem from slowing down fast-fashion. Consumers have to become more conscious about where and how their clothes are made, and sustainability has to become a norm. Buying patterns have to shift towards value for money rather than trend-focused immediate sales.
All Images: Courtesy Itrh Instagram