Okay, so India may not have much in the way of premium basic labels like Joseph or Cos but it does have Bodice, helmed by the gorgeous Ruchika Sachdeva. Ruchika creates the kind of minimalist, understated clothing that remind me of the kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up – elegant and self-possessed. I may not be either of those things now that I am officially an adult but Ruchika’s clothes mean that grown up pretenders can at least look the part, which explains why she’s such a hit among India’s cool folk.
It also explains the honours – she recently won Vogue India’s Fashion Fund and found herself on Forbes’ list of 30 people under 30 to watch out for but she's not one to let the pressure faze her, as I found out when I chatted to her recently.
What’s your morning and evening regimen like?
Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser in the morning and rosehip oil in the evening.
What’s it like to be a designer in India at the moment?
It’s a great time to start anything of your own; there’s so much opportunity here. If you’re a fashion designer in the West, you don’t really have the luxury of making your own clothes when you’re starting out; it’s a much tougher process realizing your designs. At the moment, it's way more economically viable for someone to have their own label or to start an independent business in India than it is abroad.
What sort of woman do you design for?
I design for the kind of woman who’s looking for something that’s different from an Indian designer label that you go to when you have an occasion or you’re getting married. There’s a new segment of Indian women who are well-travelled and independent and know what they want. For them, fashion is about dressing well for themselves everday instead of just making an effort when a specific occasion comes up.
How much do trends influence what you do?
Trends play only a very subtle influence in Bodice’s designs; you’ll see them in our hemlines or the length of our sleeves, maybe the collar, that sort of thing. I like to think that we’re about on-trend classics.
Bodice is known for its oversized silhouettes. What is it about them that you like?
They best represent who I am. I just don't think that things that are tight are comfortable, and no one likes feeling or looking like they're uncomfortable. Before I started Bodice, I used to wonder if it wasn't possible to wear something that wasn't really tight and still looked stylish, which is how the label came about.
Would you rather be liked or respected?
I’d much rather be respected. To want to be universally liked is to set yourself up for failure.
What was it like working for Vivienne Westwood?
It was incredible. It taught me so much about professionalism in international work culture, something Bodice has really benefitted from. Whether it’s our product, deliveries, quality checking, tailoring or finishing, we make sure that we do the best, and I learnt that from working at Westwood. As a person, it was interesting to see how her involvement with social issues translated to her clothes; her vision as a designer is inspiring.
If Bodice had a fragrance, what would it smell like?
It would be menswear-inspired. Something woody; maybe there’d be a bit of a musk situation. You know how sometimes you wear your boyfriend’s perfume and it smells amazing on you because you feel like you’re close to him? It would be like that; something masculine but on the sweeter side.
What are the three things you need to be successful in this industry?
You have to work hard. You have to love what you do – everything fades, including the thrill of money, so ask yourself if it’s something you would do even after it's made you money. And you have to make sure that what you do is available to the people who can relate to it. There’s no point making something beautiful if nobody knows it exists.
How do you handle pressure?
It really just depends on how you look at it. If you have a lot of eyes on you waiting to see what you're doing next, you could say that it's pressure – which is when your insecurities come into play – or that it's encouragement. Knowing there are people who are looking forward to what I do next keeps me motivated, but it’s taken time to learn how to deal with it. I try not to work after 7 in the evening and to do a bit of yoga everyday, which helps.
Have you been anywhere interesting lately?
I went to Auroville recently – you have to read about it before you go, because it will blow your mind. All those things you fantasise about with your friends, about wishing there was a place where money didn’t exist and people lived together and worked towards their goals in harmony – Auroville is that place. It’s this experimental colony where people are really trying to live this alternative lifestyle. If you go, you should eat at this place called the Solar Kitchen; it’s this communal kitchen where they cook with solar energy, and anyone can walk in for a meal. It’s incredible.
As told to Komal Basith. Ruchika Sachdeva photographed by Santu Misra.
Shop Bodice at Indelust.