Fashion designer Ruchika Sachdeva launched Bodice during a time when fashion in India was evolving, and the consumers were finally looking beyond traditional couture and Indian wear. On returning to India, after studying at the London College of Fashion and working with designer Viviene Westwood, Ruchika applied her global sensibilities in creating a label that juxtaposes Indian crafts and textiles but in a modern and contemporary way. This year, she completes 10 years in the industry and what better way to commemorate her journey but by doing the Grand Finale of the fashion week where she started as a Gen-Next Designer. After her closing show at the FDCI X Lakmé Fashion Week, the designer spoke to ELLE India about her latest collection, a decade in the business and what’s on her vision board for Bodice next.
ELLE: Tell us about the inspiration behind this collection?
RS: The inspiration for this collection stemmed from the idea of playing a game. As the pandemic hit, our approach and perspective towards looking at life changed. I looked at it as a game. How sometimes, we take life too seriously, whether it’s winning or losing. I inculcated that idea and applied a playful spin to it.
There’s stiff structure, but also there’s fluidity in this line with a burst of colour, which was something new for me. When I started designing this collection, I was in my Delhi home, where there’s lots of space, light and it’s loud with no boundaries, and there’s a lot of chaos. Usually, my collections are very minimalistic with a very clear vision, but this time around, there’s lots of energy, colour and spunk because it was inspired by the surrounding I was in.
ELLE: Bodice completes 10 years in the business, you started as a GenNext designer, and you are now closing the fashion week. How does that feel?
RS: It feels great. It’s such a special moment. Not just because it’s our tenth year, but because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to come together, but this came as an opportunity to celebrate and unite as a community, even if it’s from the safety net of our cars. Also, FDCI and Lakmé Fashion Week came together, and I have repeatedly worked with both these platforms over the course of my journey so far, which made it extra exciting for me.
ELLE: You’re known for contemporising indigenous fabrics and craft in a minimalistic way. Could you tell us a little more about that?
RS: When I started Bodice, there was already a market full of beautiful Indian wear, so when I wanted to launch my brand, I asked myself what is it that I will be contributing to the industry? Do we really need another label or another garment? So the answer to these question came in the form of how I approached designing and who my audience was. I wanted to use Indian textile and craft but not limit it to the consumers in the country. The idea was to make it globally appealing since fashion today exists in geographically blurred lines. There’s an incredible treasure trove of textiles and handcraft lying in our backyards, and I would be stupid not to use it, but I wanted to incorporate it differently. There were textile purists who already knew how to wear what textile. I sort of wanted to disrupt that and open it up to a whole new set of audience. I just wanted to translate the language of Indian textiles for somebody like me and people who don’t necessarily know about Indian handicrafts and textiles.
ELLE: Sustainability has been ingrained in the DNA of your brand right from the beginning. How has it evolved over the years?
RS: Calling yourself a sustainable label is like telling someone that your clothes fit well; it really has to be a given. It’s important to understand the impact your clothes are having on the people making them and the people who are wearing them. Their contribution is based on consumption, so how long will your garment last in terms of shape and quality and relevance, trend, and style. It needs to be timeless. Also, the practice of being sustainable goes beyond just creating clothes. It’s about the manner you make them in, the packaging, it’s a holistic process, and honestly, I am still learning.
ELLE: Has the pandemic affected your approach towards designing, is there something that was differently done for this collection?
RS: I think we all realised this during the pandemic that we take a lot of things for granted. I realised how lucky I am to be my own boss in times like these, where the control and power of my situation is in my own hands. Through this brand, we support a lot of livelihoods, and that realisation sort of gave me the strength to design through those months.
ELLE: What’s next for Bodice?
RS: I would like to see my clothes on a diverse variety of people. It will be amazing if I get to grow my boundaries and challenge myself to create clothes for different kinds of women, different ages of women. That’s my aim, to not be constrained with a certain county, people, age group or culture, and I am slowly working towards it.
Images: Ruchika Sachdeva