INTERVIEW | Redefining Indian Fashion; in conversation with Raghavendra Rathore
CE speaks with celebrity designer Raghavendra Rathore about his latest collection titled 'Festive Regalia', what goes on to dress the royals of India, and more.
HYDERABAD: With his impeccable design sensibilities, deep-rooted cultural influences, and a commitment to reviving traditional craftsmanship, Raghavendra Rathore has become a symbol of timeless elegance and sophistication. Born into the royal family of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Raghavendra Rathore grew up surrounded by a rich heritage and a passion for art and aesthetics.
Rathore’s foray into the fashion industry began when he launched his eponymous brand, Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur, in 1994. One of his most iconic contributions to Indian fashion is the ‘Jodhpuri Bandhgala’ or the ‘Bandhgala Suit’. Rathore reinvented this traditional garment by infusing it with a modern touch, making it a symbol of power dressing and sophistication. Over the years, Raghavendra Rathore has dressed numerous celebrities, including Bollywood stars, politicians, and international personalities. CE catches up with the maverick designer about his latest collection titled Festive Regalia, what goes on to dress the royals of India and more.
Tell us about your latest collection.
Festive Regalia is a celebration of old-world luxury. It pays homage to the rich heritage of Rajasthan, blending traditional elements with contemporary aesthetics. The collection showcases intricate handcrafted textiles, exquisite embroidery, and a harmonious fusion of colours, capturing the essence of timeless elegance. The synonymous bandh gala collar style has been redefined in various avatars in the collection. It is the epitome of legacy, a nod to the past and a step towards a future where tradition and innovation intertwine.
What about the idea behind the designs?
The idea behind Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur brand’s designs is to preserve and celebrate the legacy of Indian craftsmanship while infusing modern sensibilities. By integrating traditional techniques with innovative approaches, we aim to create garments that are rooted in heritage yet resonate with the contemporary world.
What was the initial motivation to join the fashion industry decades ago?
Decades ago, when we embarked on our journey as pioneers in bespoke menswear, our brand was fuelled by an unwavering passion for creativity, a deep-rooted desire to revive the time-honoured traditions of Indian craftsmanship, and an unyielding commitment to preserving our rich cultural heritage through the art of design. We recognised fashion as a powerful medium, capable of not only showcasing the beauty of our legacy but also transcending boundaries to captivate a global audience.
How has men’s fashion changed down the line?
Over the years, men’s fashion has witnessed a remarkable transformation. From being primarily focused on functionality and simplicity, it has evolved into a realm of self-expression and individuality. Men now have a wider array of styles, silhouettes, and fabrics to choose from, and there is a greater emphasis on personal style and sartorial experimentation.
Tell us about dressing royalties: a glimpse into the wardrobes of Saif Ali Khan, Sawai Padmanabh Singh, and other distinguished figures.
Their wardrobes reflect a perfect blend of regal elegance and contemporary sophistication. From meticulously crafted bespoke tailored suits to intricately designed ethnic ensembles, their outfits emanate a sense of refinement and timeless allure. These distinguished individuals showcase the utmost attention to personalisation, resulting in unique looks that truly reflect their impeccable sense of style.
How has your brand evolved over the years?
Our brand has evolved significantly over the years. While remaining rooted in the essence of heritage and classic style, we have embraced the concept of fusion and Friday dressing with a touch of classic. The consumer is evolving and with a wider age demographic the infusion of a chic vibe has become a must. Using new technology across the board allows us to enhance our creativity, streamline production, and deliver personalised experiences to our discerning clientele.
Any wardrobe must-haves for men?
Versatility is the key to ensuring the must-haves in a gentleman’s wardrobe. The right styles and the right combinations allow you to dress up and dress down as the occasion demands. A well-fitted Bandhgala jacket is a must, a Bandhgala suit, classic white and blue shirts, versatile trousers in neutral tones, a collection of high-quality handmade pocket squares and the right belt and shoes that double as formal and for a less formal look. For a touch of ethnic, the traditional breeches and kurta sets never fail.
What’s the latest trend in men’s fashion?
With a complete overhaul in the workspace shifting to a more casual ambience and work-from-home setting, there is no doubt a growing preference for comfortable yet stylish clothing such as tailored joggers, relaxed-fit blazers, oversized shirts, and versatile athleisure pieces.
Sustainability and eco-consciousness are also influencing the industry, with a focus on ethically sourced materials and environmentally friendly practices. The consumer is more aware and wants to be a contributor for the betterment. However, I still feel that the classic space is something that will always transcend trends - in other words, it is the trend.
Apart from work, what other interests do you have?
I feel a creative mindset is constantly looking for or rather finding inspiration. The word work tends to capture the creative process into a boundary, whereas I feel what I do on a daily basis is more than that, it’s an ever-evolving process rather than pure work. Travel, technology, art, culture, and lifestyle are all ingredients that help accelerate my creative space.
The power of Make in India is phenomenal. We have placed Bandhgala on the global fashion map. In the future, we hope to contribute more towards this.