He has looked up in awe at the fashion industry from the tender age of eight — From reading about the acclaimed designer Ritu Beri to following design stories, he has been persistent. Hailing from the hinterland of Jharkhand’s Bokaro Steel City, where clothing was confined to the corner village tailor shop and ready-to-wear retail did not exist, came this strapping Bengaluru-based designer who is all set to make a name for himself internationally. By giving a platform to organic and re-purposed fashion, ‘Mr Ajay Kumar’, his self-titled print-endowed label re-interprets indigenous prints that have always been an integral part of India’s sartorial heritage. Designer Ajay Kumar is riding high and will be representing India at the Harbin Fashion Week to be held in China on January 13, replete with his trademark prints and flamboyant colours.
A NIFT graduate who has worked closely with leading brands like Blackberry’s, Indigo Nation, Reid & Taylor and Peter England, Ajay has always embarked on an eclectic creative trail. His fashion label catalyses inspiration to render indigenous prints onto contemporary pieces, and this season he flaunts Indian couture through his sustainable concept ‘Bhu-Svah’ that will go onto the ramps in China next week.
“Each brand has its own look and feel, and my brand talks about print. Apart from weaving in elements of culture and history into my works, I have also made sure they are pollution-free. The series Bhu-Svah is woven in Khadi and the theme is all about eco-friendly fashion. I wanted to speak about conservation of the environment through portraying nature in creative and printed designs,’’ explains Ajay. He will be showcasing a total of 20 ensembles at the Harbin Fashion Week.
This 40-year-old makes no bones about his lower middle class upbringing and credits his parents for showing the courage to allow him to choose a different path. His father was a deputy post master and mother, a home maker. “Back in those days, the people in my village could not even think of letting children choose anything other than engineering, medicine or banking. I am gifted with parents who stood by me until I saw my dream come true,” says Ajay who is a staunch Sufi music follower, Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan being his favourite.
He lives in Bengaluru with his wife Lavanya Ventakaraman, and a five-year-old son Siddhanth. Though a graduate in fashion designing, his wife Lavanya who is the co-founder of his fashion studio Aqurator Designs, is more into creative marketing. She too accompanies her husband and will take to the stage to talk about fashion and women entrepreneurship in China. Excited about China, Ajay is also weaving his dream of building a getaway house in the woods away from the chaos of city life even as he sketches more designs from his repertoire....