If you’ve been waiting for the launch of Uniqlo’s store in India (scheduled for next month), you’re in for a(nother) treat. The Japanese apparel retailer is also collaborating with Eka’s Rina Singh for a special line for India, titled the ‘Kurta Collection’. Drawing inspiration from the local wardrobe staple, this collection is an extension of Uniqlo’s LifeWear concept, which promotes simple and high-quality daily wear. Priced at an affordable range between Rs 1,290 to 3,990, it comprises tunics, dresses, pants and stoles in shades inspired by the Indian spice route—the colour palette is an earthy combination of charcoal, indigo, mustard and red. Apart from India, the collection will also be available in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as part of Uniqlo’s autumn/winter offering.
We sat down with the New Delhi-based designer, Singh, to discuss her new collaboration with Uniqlo, and find out more about what we can expect from the collection. Excerpts below.
Tell us about your collaboration with Uniqlo
From the very beginning, there was a very distinctive synergy and clarity in the way we collaborated to push forth the idea of LifeWear, and [create] a product that is accessible to all. Thus, the design teams at Uniqlo and I were inspired to create a new version of the kurta, made for a progressive woman. The scale of my work was fairly small and indigenous till now, and I was excited to see this project mature with Uniqlo’s technical expertise. The brand’s design methodology is par excellence, and integrating my vision with their precise take on product development, has made for an inspiring journey.
Considering Uniqlo is an international brand, what did you keep in mind while creating this collection?
I have been retailing internationally for many years now, which has given me a larger understanding of the customer landscape across demographics—what the audience expect from clothes they buy, their take on fit, and the merits of design in terms of functionality and acceptability. The design development at Uniqlo is highly technical and process-oriented. A lot of focus was on technical points, where we had to revisit and align with global standards of sizing and demographic preferences. During the process, we also introduced tailoring methods that weren’t originally part of Uniqlo’s process.
The idea was to have a linear, simplistic and monotone approach, as opposed to the traditional treatment of kurta. Design adaptations were made to introduce the kurta as an accessible, wearable and universally adaptable day dress that could stand on its own anywhere in the world.
What can you tell us about the designs you’ve created for this collaboration?
Given India’s climatic conditions and preferences, I have always leaned towards fabrics made of natural fibres. The designs use premium linen, 100 per cent cotton and a specially created rayon fabric, jointly developed by Uniqlo and Toray Industries to make daily care even easier. These fabrics are ideally suited to the climatic conditions and evolving lifestyles in India, and help create highly functional clothing. The tunics and tops making up this collection can be easily layered with other separates (over trousers or with jackets), or worn as dresses on their own.
How do you see the kurta fitting into international casual wardrobes?
In my opinion, kurtas are timeless, extremely democratic and functional, thus aligning it perfectly with Uniqlo’s LifeWear philosophy. We have worked towards introducing a contemporary and atypical version of the kurta in this collection, as an everyday essential that the world needs right now. Scroll ahead to take a look at some of the pieces from Rina Singh and Uniqlo’s new collection.