Ritu Kumar – A Self-Made Icon In Indian Fashion Industry

Ritu Kumar

Ritu Kumar is not just a name it has became such a big level brand that needs no introduction. She is one of the most successful designers of India who has served the fashion industry for more than 50 years. Not only this, Ritu Kumar is the pioneer of Organized & Boutique-cultured industry in the country. From celebrities to locals, everyone admires her work as she has sophisticatedly presented the blend of two cultures – Indian and International in her attires.


Let’s take a look that how this self-made woman built her empire?

Life before the ‘Label’

Ritu Kumar was born on November 11, 1944 in Amritsar, Punjab. Though she hailed from a middle-class family, having certain values, her parents were always being supportive in her career. Unlike most of the parents in the era of 60s, Ritu’s parents were highly educated and so education of their daughter was an utmost priority for them. Ritu was given complete freedom to pursue whatever she felt the best thing for her. Having said that, Ritu completed her graduation from Lady Irwin College in Delhi in 1964. Later, for higher education in Theatre, she went on to study History of Art from Briarcliff College, New York, in 1966.

After spending some years in USA, Ritu decided to come back to India and realised how little she knew about Indian art and heritage. So, she enrolled herself in Ashutosh Museum of Indian Art to study museology. During her tenure, Ritu learned different types of dying embroideries and prints. That’s when Ritu thought that she could actually use her international experience to take the Indian craftsmanship to the next level.

In 1969, Ritu’s life took a big turn as she decided to change her path and pivoting towards a whole new direction. With just four hand block printers and two tables, Ritu Kumar started her own business. Her first exhibition was held at the Park Hotel in Calcutta. Fortunately, the event turned out to be a huge success and not only it boosted the confidence of Ritu Kumar and her team but also opened multiple new doors for them. Since then, the woman never looked back. Later, she opened her retail shop under the brand name ‘Ritu’ and with that, she became the first woman to introduce ‘boutique’ culture in India.

Defeating the odds with her courage

There were a lot of obstacles in Ritu Kumar’s journey to success. As much as humble the beginning of her brand was, equally challenging the days were ahead. After the British Rule was demolished in India, it changed the fashion sense of locals completely. Back in those days, wearing fashionable clothes itself was a challenging task as Indians got disconnected from the outer world and were forced to go back to their roots. In simple words, people were not ready to adapt Ritu Kumar’s clothes. Hence, she had to face the wrath of audience for her out-of-the-box designs.

However, what kept her from not stopping was the richness of Indian textiles and it was only a matter of time that Ritu once again started to dominate the fashion industry in India.

Rise of the LABEL

It was the year 2002 when Ritu established the first pillar of her success by launching another brand under her wings -‘LABEL- Ritu Kumar’. With this, she showcased the beauty of Indian craftsmanship to the world. Starting her career at a small level, Ritu Kumar has now certainly grown on to diversify her work globally. She has also turned out to become a great mentor for the Indian fashion industry.

Today, with 93 stores across the country, Ritu Kumar’s designs have gone on to become the new definition of style and is worn by women of all age.

On the recognition front, Ritu Kumar was honoured with the Padma Shri award in 2013 for her excellent work in the field of fashion and textiles. In the same year, she also received the “Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Award” by the ASSOCHAM Ladies League.  

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