Young accessories designer Rachana Reddy tells Neeti Sarkar she decided to turn her ‘just for fun' activity into a career

She went down the regular road but somewhere along the way the path got too dry and dreary. When she realised she'd chosen the wrong boulevard of life, she retraced her steps in a trice, and found herself back at the proverbial crossroad. This time around, however, she took the road less taken. This is exactly how city-based accessory designer, Rachana Reddy, who launched her own line of designer clutches two months ago, heeded her true calling.

“I've always had an inclination towards art and design and was initially keen on studying architecture but ended up pursuing engineering. Halfway through I was convinced my interests lay elsewhere and I quit. After some serious thought, I decided to turn what was then a ‘just for fun' activity into a career,” the young designer says, adding: “Of course, this wouldn't be possible without my love for fashion. Right now when I look back, I'm so glad I made that switch in the nick of time.”

Glossy fashion magazines serve as staple diet for today's youngsters. Those who've been bitten by the fashion bug rush to enrol at fashion design institutes and seize the smallest opportunity they have to walk the ramp. Considering accessory designing is only slowly moving out of the fringes into the mainstream fashion scene, one wonders why Rachana chose this particular field.

Bling cling

“I love accessories and I used to make bags and other small accessories whenever I had the time. Once I was convinced I wanted to pursue a career within this area of interest, I found a specialised course in accessories design and there's been absolutely no looking back since. Also, the Indian designer accessories scene was very nascent five years ago with just a handful of accessory designers. I was pretty sure there were plenty of opportunities to make it big in this field,” she recounts.

A graduate of the eminent Cordwainers — London College of Fashion, 24-year-old Rachana says it didn't take much to zero in on where to study. “I wanted to get the best out of my situation after quitting my engineering course and was also keen on getting an international fashion and design sense from a school in New York or London. It wasn't hard to decide where I needed to be and it does feel great to have studied in an institution from where some of the best accessory and footwear designers like Jimmy Choo, Patrick Cox and L.K. Bennet have passed out.”

Most Indian students who want to turn fashion into something more serious vie to make it through NIFT or NID, India's top design institutes. “But I considered neither,” Rachana counters. “I personally felt that for specialised courses like fashion accessories design or footwear design, fashion schools in London and New York offer better curriculums.”

For Rachana, home is most certainly where the heart is, so launching herself as an accessory designer in Bangalore, before opening stand alone stores in other parts of the country was the plan she worked most diligently on. “Bangalore has always been my home, I automatically decided to base myself here. However, there are lots of designers who actually don't live in a city that's home to them but they do extremely well wherever they are. I don't think it really matters where you live but in return for the comfort of being at home, you would need to put in little more effort when it comes to networking,” the designer reasons. But what is the kind of scope there is for accessory designers in Bangalore? “There are a lot of stylish women in this city who love to experiment with well made, bold accessories. What is very important for an accessory designer is creating a niche for oneself, knowing one's consumer well and not letting one's product get lost in the machine-made mass produced goods. There definitely is plenty of scope for innovative concepts by experimental designers.”

The thing that strikes you most about this fashion entrepreneur is her positive outlook. Ask her if she thinks with the umpteen Fashion Weeks in India, justice has been done to showcasing accessories and not just clothes, and Rachana replies: “Accessory shows are just coming of age in India. With the common man becoming more aware of what accessories can do to one's look, the demand for accessories would only lead to the birth of good accessory designers as well as upscale accessory shows.”

To make it big as an accessory designer one requires “a keen sense of style, the ability to understand the nuances of designing accessories, an eye for colour, detail and finish, and the drive to keep innovating,” Rachana points out that it is about time we move over from “embellished, blingy stuff and take to more of clean, stylish accessories.”

Her knowledge of the subject and her expertise in designing is clearly reflected in her debut collection. Titled “Lotus Sutra”, the designs are artistically evocative and have been handcrafted by skilled local artisans. This line predominantly consists of wooden clutches with traditional accents such as lotus, paisley and jali work etched and carved into them delicately and filled in with luxurious fabrics. There is a contemporary feel to each piece. “I've used mainly silk and leather in combination with wood. I have also steered clear of any superfluous embellishments and focused more on detailing. Also, as much as each of them is a statement accessory, they are also pieces of art and would need some amount of care. Every clutch from my line comes with a detachable chain/leather handle, so they can be converted into small bags,” says the designer who also retails in Chennai and Delhi.

Does she intend to move beyond clutches? “For now I'm enjoying designing clutches. I'm also keen on designing footwear and jewellery in the near future,” she responds.

When she isn't putting her creative genius to use, designing accessories, Rachana says she's always on the lookout for something to learn, something to draw inspiration from. “I indulge in quite a bit of photography which helps me look at the world with a new and interesting perspective. I also am an avid reader of books and blogs. I enjoy travelling to new places and what might surprise people is that I'm a gaming buff,” she chuckles, as she concludes.

The designer takes direct orders and can be reached on 9620489178 or at rach@rachanareddy.com. For more details log on to www.rachanareddy.com

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