A 10-year-old brand, Couture Rani, was born out of an idea to help people find contemporary fashion from India and discover the excellent craftsmanship within the country. The first iteration was focused on made-to-order bridal fashion launched by Gina Mathew (CEO). Ten years down the line, the brand that Gina, and Venk Modur, Creative Director, are building is focused on brands that are local, sustainable, and community-driven. We caught up with Gina and Venk as they re-launch Couture Rani with a new look and a more focused vision. Excerpts:
Venk and Gina
ELLE: Tell us about Couture Rani’s journey. How did you put it together, and what were some of the main things you wanted to focus on?
Gina Mathew (GM): The idea for Couture Rani first began when I was working at a couture house in New York City and saw that nearly every Western designer sent their beading and embroidery work to India. It made me wonder why Indian designers weren’t using the skills of their artisans to produce contemporary pieces for the global market. Venk and I are currently building a content and commerce platform showcasing contemporary fashion from the subcontinent. Our goal is to shine a spotlight on the incredible talent from the region and focus our attention on brands that follow a slow fashion approach. Craftsmanship, sustainability and supporting artisan communities is at the forefront of Couture Rani’s mission.
ELLE: Tell us about some of the exciting things lined up for Couture Rani in 2021?
GM:We’re very excited to be launching the new site. We will initially feature a small roster of designers and add more over the next few months. One aspect we’re most excited about is providing a space to incubate young design talent and give them an opportunity to showcase their collection on our site. We will be working with Ashwin Thiyagarajan as our first emerging talent whose journey we’ll share via our social media channels. There are also pop-up events in the works and expanding our offerings into beauty and lifestyle products.
We’ve seen the pandemic absolutely decimate the livelihood of migrant and garment workers. While it’s nice to say that we support sustainability and slow fashion, we want to live out those ideals as a brand. We think it’s important to let our customers know how the garments are made, who is making them and provide more transparency about the supply chains.
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ELLE: What have been some of the challenges you’ve had to face, and how did you overcome them?
GM: The biggest challenge we’ve had is finding designers and brands who align with our values. Since we can’t travel to India and meet with designers and see the collections in person, we’ve had to build our relationships virtually. That has led us to build the brand more intentionally.
ELLE: Tell us about some of your favourite projects on the website so far?
GM: The benefit to Couture Rani, having been a content platform for the last few years, is that we can seamlessly integrate editorial pieces into our e-commerce site, differentiating us from other platforms selling South Asian fashion.
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ELLE: Digital is the future for content without any doubt. How do you plan to use the medium to engage and make a positive impact in the industry?
GM: Storytelling is intrinsic to our brand DNA. We want to use the platform to share the beautiful stories of the designers and artisans behind the products. There has never been more attention paid to the fashion industry than there is right now, and we want to be able to address those impactful issues. As we expand our capabilities, we hope to include in-depth editorials, videos, and other multimedia to create a more immersive experience that really connects our content to our audience. We think we have an opportunity to start conversations around issues that matter, challenge conventional ways in which fashion, especially South Asian fashion has been covered, and increase visibility for emerging talent.