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Neeta Lulla: Czarina of Indian Ethnicwear

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is more than a fashion designer who has styled almost every bollywood bride, from Sridevi in Lamhe to Bachchan in Jodha Akbar. The iconic fashion designer shares her views on Indian ethnicwear category.

Indian ethnicwear designer, Neeta Lulla is best described as a designer who translates vintage charm, romance and intricate craftsmanship through her designs. She made her debut in fashion and fi lms almost 34 years ago and since then she has been introducing iconic ethnicwear trends. Lulla says that almost every collection she designs strikes the right balance of aspiration value and wearability. Hence, at least 85 percent of her collections can be related in terms of retail. The designer further discusses the strengths and opportunities for Indian ethnicwear category.

How would you defi ne Indian ethnicwear as a category?

Indian ethicwear is an imperative aspect of our trends and fashion. India, in terms of culture and heritage has a distinct style of dressing which we need to adhere to. Even if we look at the young generation today, they want to wear ethnic lehanga on special occasions like wedding or pooja. So, the Indian ethnicwear has its strong signifi cance as a category. Therefore, it is an integral part of our attire.

Are you fully satisfi ed how modern retail has presented and promoted Indian ethnicwear to the consumers?

With a positive approach its getting better and better. You cannot say either you are fully satisfi ed or not satisfi ed because it is very retrospective thing that has happened. And, as trends and fashion keep changing, the way we submit our fashion and the way we portray the consumer has also made the remarkable difference. Since it is progressive we can say that it is positive in a right direction.

Do you think the pioneers, designers and thought leaders of ethnicwear have done enough to make sure that they reach the consumers?

I think they are doing enough and they are raising the bar of their own marketability as well which talks about the progressive attribute to the Indian fashion trends.

What role can Indian ethnicwear performs in fashion consumption in India?

As I shared that it is an integral part of our attire so I think a majority of it does contribute to at least 60 percent. Its from the entire India tier-II and tier-III cities and metros.

Do you think in the shape and form it is presented right now and the way collections are being created and marketed has the potential to appeal the main consuming segment of India which is young and between the age group of 18 to 35 years?

Completely, because when you are looking at a garment, whether showcased on a model, mannequin, advertisement or in movies, there is an aspiration value. Today’s consumer is very well read, aware and informed about fashion trends in the global market as well as Indian circuit. Therefore, if you being able to create aspiration you are meeting the need of consumer.

Now coming to the other side of fashion, what frame or philosophy Indian ethnicwear would make to the top league in the global couture circle?

I think our philosophy of having a rich heritage and culture we come from and our different approach towards fabric, embroidery and cut have inspired a lot of international designers globally. We as Indians adhere to the global sensibilities which are Indian embroidery that we contribute.

There are one set of affl uent look tradition and elegance the limit they can spend on However, they can’t relate presented by the designers, instance, housewife of the Vadodrabased businessman. How does Indian ethnicwear reach out audience?

There are many ways to tap consumers, online stores, screen presence on television, magazines and fashion shows on . The housewife of a Vadodra-businessman has access to or internet and she does browse. The consumer has become well read and informed of Indian and global fashion trends.

According to you what challenges the category is facing? Also, suggest ways to tackle them.

I think predominently the challenge is to meet the consumer need in terms of productions. And, this challenge can only be tackled if we get the corporatization of the sector. Otherwise on the creative and marketing front there are not much challenges.

What are the opportunities available for the Indian ethnicwear category?

Ethnicwear is our roots, hence that there are tremendous In fact, optimising these opportunities not difficult if you can address sensibilities, can get innovative and can reach out to the consumers in terms of wearability. There is an aspect that designers make outlandish clothes. But we as designer need to be focused, do we want to adhere to the sensibilities and buying aspect of the consumer or do we want to adhere to the aspiration value. Clearly, for me as a designer it is about the thin line, aspiration value and wearability.

How many stores do you have?

We have one fl agship store in Mumbai and we are listing couple of more. Apart from that we work on shop-in-shop and online stores.

Name your top fi ve collections that a modern retailer can transform into a brand in itself and why?

My clothes are quite wearable even on and off the ramp, and at least 85 percent of my collection can be related in terms of retail. From Radha collection to Immortal Love, Kanjivaram, Lace, Chinar Booti, Kanjivaram to Lakhnavi Chikan collection, there are quite a few that can be transformed as a retail brand.

What is your latest collection that you have launched in 2014?

The Lakhnavi Chikan collection that is online right now. And, the Kalamkari and Kanjivaram collections are the constant from last year which will be there every season with different innovations. Another one is the Lace collection that is always there and has been re-invented every season. One of the most signifi cant collections is Chinar Booti in Khadi. I have started using a lot of pure fabric with Khadi as combination, and intend to promote it.

Your designs have distinctive use of colours, quality of fabrics and intricate embroideries. What are your favourite materials to work with and why?

Kanjivaram, Kalamkari and Khadi. I like a lot of vintage feel to my garments and these fabrics give me that look. My collections are romantic and inspired by renaissance, with different colours and cuts its easy for me to translate it through these fabrics.

What are your favourite markets to source such materials?

I don’t restrict to a particular place. But I usually source fabrics from Hyderabad, Kanchipuram, Shree Hastkalu where the Kalamkari is made, also Delhi and Mumbai.

What are the latest ethnicwear trends for the season in terms of design and style?

We will see tunic pants in different styles. Frock style and kalidar kurta are also making a rage.

What colour palette is going to be popular this season?

Bold Indian colours will be everywhere. Also bright colours with slight pastel tones will be popular.

What are your future plans for the upcoming year?

We planing to come up with more store and making strong online presence.

What do you want Neeta Lulla to be remembered as?

An imaginary who has brought ethnicwear trends into the industry.