Reliance Retail Ventures Limited Acquire 52% Equity Stake In The Ritu Kumar Conglomerate
"Our partnership seeks to highlight India’s emerging role in the fashion market, and take homegrown brands to a global platform."
The matriarch of Indian fashion, Ritu Kumar, is the latest to form allegiance with retail giant Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (RRVL). The 76-year-old veteran designer, who founded her conglomerate, Ritika Private Limited in 1969 has partnered with the corporation by giving them 52% of control in her company. Ritu’s 52 years of legacy comprises 5 different labels that are branched across categories.
From her eponymous design houses; namely Ritu Kumar, Label Ritu Kumar, RI Ritu Kumar and Ritu Kumar Home to her contemporary label aarké, the doyenne’s expansive portfolio will now be represented globally by RRVL. Known for depicting the culturally-rich history of Indian handicrafts, textiles and embroideries through her versatile design language, Ritu’s latest allegiance with Reliance will further help her to amplify the Indian heritage, which is the core of her brand’s DNA. In an insightful conversation with ELLE, the designer along with the Managing Director & CEO of RBL, Darshan Mehta speak at length about their newest association.
Ritu Kumar in her atelier
ELLE: With Reliance Retail Ventures Limited acquiring a major stake in Ritika Private Limited, what is the collective vision for the future?
Ritu Kumar: Ritika Pvt Ltd and Reliance Retail Venture Limited’s alliance will cement Ritu Kumar’s global stature and unlock the brand’s true potential. The partnership will magnify the patronage of Indian craftspeople – a cornerstone of the Ritu Kumar philosophy. It will further build and accelerate the existing business, enhance production and manufacturing, and enrich the brand’s retail experience.
ELLE: Ritu Kumar is deeply rooted in artisanal crafts, embroidery and textiles – how will this collaboration further amplify the brand’s DNA beyond its existing reach?
RK: Textiles have been a mainspring of India’s society and economy for centuries with homegrown fabrics, crafts and techniques luring the world. Through skill enhancement and the technological enablement of artisans, our partnership will continue to build the business by creating employment and restructuring the ease of end-to-end production and manufacture. Our partnership seeks to highlight India’s emerging role in the fashion market, and take homegrown brands to a global platform.
Ritu Kumar and models at her couture show
ELLE: Ritu Kumar holds a profound legacy in the country, is this partnership a step towards asserting the same dominance globally?
RK: With our alliance, we want to secure a design future where we have a clear role towards achieving greater ecological integrity while providing our patrons with articles that suit their evolving needs. With RBL’s backing, we hope to expand our retail presence with an extensive brick-and-mortar footprint nationally and also expand internationally with an online presence.
ELLE: You’ve been the sole proprietor of your brand for almost 52 years, what made you greenlight this alliance and why was RRVL the ideal choice for it?
RK: RRVL and we share a collective vision to highlight India’s design capabilities and provide them with an international platform. The alliance will help amplify our global presence, and RBL will fast-track our effort to drive world-class operational excellence by leading day-to-day business management.
Ritu Kumar with Aditi Rao Hydari
ELLE: How do you think this allegiance will open new avenues for the brand and will we be seeing more labels added under Ritika Pvt Ltd umbrella?
RK: We hope to expand our retail footprint, both physical and digital to reach a wider, international audience to allow us to take our creations globally.
Darshan Mehta, Managing Director & CEO, RBL
ELLE: How do you plan on restructuring brand Ritu Kumar’s position in the global market?
Darshan Mehta: Ritu Kumar truly laid the foundation of Indian luxury and couture, more than 50 years ago. Inspired by French influence on traditional textile weaving techniques, she gave birth to a very unique signature under the brand bearing her name, Ritu Kumar. It’s a brand with true heritage, strong recognition, potential for scale and still very much rooted in native craftsmanship. In summary, the Ritu Kumar narrative continues to be strong, vibrant and relevant. An opportunity to partner with a name like Ritu Kumar is not just rare but hugely exciting. Clearly this will be a solitaire in our jewel box.
Amrish Kumar with Taapsee Pannu
ELLE: While international labels are all owned by larger luxury conglomerates, this format is fairly new in India – what took so long and how do you think this will help reshape the Indian fashion industry?
DM: RRVL’s focus, in its value creation journey, on designer businesses out of India, is neither recent nor new. Nearly 5 years ago, we engaged in a conversation, culminating in an investment with Raghavendra Rathore. This was then followed up with our investments in the Satya Paul business. Then and now, we continue to believe, in the fashion appeal that Indian designers have; not just with consumers based in India but a wider and increasing diaspora of global consumers. This following has got further over indexed with the growth of everything “digital”.
ELLE: How are the selections done for these partnerships and what are the key factors that play a pivotal role when it comes to zeroing down the brand?
DM: As you are well aware, RRVL does not follow a “portfolio approach” in its journey of partnering with fashion & design brands. For us, every investment and every partnership is unique and special. Every true Brand has its own beating heart, its own cache of consumer following and its own re-imagination of itself. It’s this journey that is both exciting and rewarding to us. Whether it be Zegna or Canali or Raghavendra Rathore; and now Ritu Kumar.
Ritu Kumar with Vaani Kapoor
ELLE: How do you view the current changing landscape of multiple Indian fashion collaborations and will it have an impact on consumer behaviour?
DM: In an increasing “flat world”, the circle of influence for any brand is determined less and less by geography. The ability to create “unboxing delight” with consumers sitting across different continents is both fast and economically affordable. Newer trends such as pop up stores, interesting cross category collaborations, social commerce, livestream commerce and increasingly nomadic customers who are cosmopolitan in their outlook, has reshaped our approach of looking at current and potential customers for brands in a geography agnostic way.