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‘Education is the best gift’

Madhurima Sengupta | New Delhi |

Jodhpur based fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore internationalised the royal Jodhpur Bandhgala Jacket and it has emerged a brand name in luxury men’s wear. He is all geared up for ‘The Gurukul School of Design’ in Jaipur which promises holistic education in fashion designing. Excerpts from an exclusive interview…

Q Did you always wish to become a fashion designer?

My journey was a bit unique, as I went to study robotics, landed up studying Greek mythology and finally finished from Parsons School of design as a designer.

Q You studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York. What urged you to come back and promote royal Indian fashion?

I was in Jodhpur, while still working under Oscar de la Renta (DominicanAmerican fashion designer), when I realised that only few design houses offered customized services to the ever-growing market of very stylish Indians. I realised the importance of heritage clothing and embarked on reviving Indian design.

Q Initially, was it challenging establishing classic styles in the ever-changing world of fashion?

Being from a small town like Jodhpur, it was difficult to create a brand that promised wide-reaching impact and make available a product like the classic RR Bandhgala to a global audience.

Q Being a brand name in luxury men’s wear, what do you think contributed to the success?

The brand has always kept its precious customer at the centre of the design process. Understanding his/her needs and evolving accordingly to provide lifestyle products that becomes a necessity, keeps the brand youthful and in demand.

Q Now that you have also ventured into bridal wear, which do you prefer working on—men’s or women’s wear?

The brand focuses on men’s custom-built clothing. Whether it is for bridal requirements or personal dressing, our aim is to provide the best customised solutions. Our focus is menswear but occasionally we work with our treasured women’s wear clients to create one-of-a-kind dresses for special events.

Q What was your motivation behind setting up the Gurukul School of Design?

The importance of education to me has been brought in to my life by a couple of incidents that took place over two decades ago, when I was a young student. I had the opportunity of meeting an individual, who partly helped me sustain a world class education in New York, some 25 years ago. His support with a condition to help others garner quality education in the future, led me to conceive setting up a design college some years ago. It has taken some time but I started this journey by creating products people liked and then setting up a brand, with culture as its core.

My father Shri Swaroop Singh too had a very strong influence in awakening my sense of moral responsibility of “giving back”. Education, to me, is the best gift one can give an aspiring young mind. Both my parents had sensitised me to have a conscience at an early age — this integrity has been lying latent till now and with the somewhat skills that I have acquired over the journey of my profession as an entrepreneur.

The thought behind Gurukul is to bring about a change in the teaching process- a more rooted and practical approach to design. What I realised is the present curriculums only focus on developing the skills of design. I believe it is important to understand the business behind it, so that it makes the student capable of setting up a start-up soon after graduating.

Right now we are going through a silent revolution in the country wherein we are shifting from a manufacturing to a designoriented outlook. The shift created will require huge talent in the future and we need to be prepared to optimally leverage this design revolution.

At GSD, the aim is to not just create a designer but a successful brand. The deeply rooted Indian Gurukul way of learning juxtaposed with new global commercial wisdom, will be the key differentiator for Gurukul School of Design.

Q Is there any special reason behind choosing Jaipur as the location?

The location of the campus in Jaipur, will give students immediate access to handicrafts, endless textiles and rare techniques, which makes this region a global cultural hub. The hustle and bustle of a large city, which is always a distraction, will be replaced by the serenity of the Gurukul methodology. The aim is to provide a new way of “thinking design” and a sound and holistic education.

Q Could you elaborate on the tagline of the school— “Learn fashion designing the Gurukul way!”?

The school teaches the values of Indian culture through its interpretation of the Gurukul way of life and imparts specialised knowledge to students to become entrepreneurs, as soon as they graduate. The institute aims to imbibe the values of the immense knowledge of our rich heritage.

Q What are the prospects for a student after completing the course?

We will absorb some of the students in our company based on their overall merits and they will be on contract to work on live assignments. The other distinguished factor is that within a single course is included all the elements of design, sharpening abilities in brand communication and a course in the business of fashion, which helps the students understand the perils of setting up their brand.