Ruchika Sachdeva is the founder and creative director of Bodice, her label that takes inspiration from menswear clothing and history, and translates them into androgynous garments with quixotic elements. But it wasn’t just design school that brought her to this point, for Ruchika, fashion is a way to bring her interest in design and self-expression together.
Winner of 2018 International Woolmark prize, Ruchika Sachdeva has earned quite the name for herself in the fashion world, following the footsteps of previous winners of Woolmark prize which includes the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
Ruchika Sachdeva’s label BODICE STUDIO combines elements of minimalist designs with India’s indigenous textiles woven by local artisans in the Himalayas. Fine gauge merino wool is used to create label’s pieces using an innovative binding technique which results in color-contrast pleats.
BODICE STUDIO has been featured in a range of international publications like BOF, Elle, Forbes, New York Times, GQ, Harper’s BAZAAR, Vogue, i-D and Grazia.
On Getting Started:
Ruchika taught herself to draw in three months.
On getting started, she says, “I stumbled upon [fashion] because there wasn’t much awareness, at least with me and my mum, we weren’t from an affluent background, so we didn’t know what else I could do,”
“It was almost like an arranged marriage, and then I fell in love with it because it seemed right. I unpeeled it and was fascinated more and more by what India has to offer when it comes to textiles.”
With a notion to “do something creative”, she had initially enrolled herself at Pearl Academy, a design institute in Delhi. However, after the first year, she felt her growth was restricted. That was when she applied to the London College of Fashion. And life, as she knew it, changed.
Ruchika started her label in 2011 and the progress she has made in the last eight years is phenomenal. Bodice is India’ best bet for an Indian contemporary label with a strong connect to a global audience.
Ruchika has recently learnt the importance of stepping back. “I started my business very young. I was always taught the harder and longer you work, the better. I wanted to be successful, so for me the formula was to work all the time. And stress all the time. But I burnt out at 27. I wasn’t listening to myself, or letting my body tell me what it wanted me to do. But I was forced to listen, because my body was in so much pain, and address my creative anxiety.”
The answer: slowing down. “I did this little thing with myself where I allowed myself to go with the flow a bit. That’s a very scary thing to do when you have a lot to do. And I’m happier for it. I’ve accepted you don’t always have to do things you don’t want to do. Our generation overdoes things and we need to take a pause. It’s time to redefine success.”
On Living True to her Spirit:
In order to stay connected to herself, Ruchika took up breath work, pranayama, to be exact.
“I started listening to myself more beyond the distractions of what I should be doing. We bombard ourselves with so many elements, and it’s the same with design. [Pranayama] gave me the confidence to reduce elements, to say that it’s okay to listen to yourself, [because] between all the noise, you can forget.”
Ruchka’s mother, is a classical singer, she recalls that at 12-years-old her daughter would stitch entirely new ensembles for her Barbie dolls having thrown out the gaudy gowns they came packaged in. She would do the same for her unwitting dog. That small gesture was amongst the first indications of her daughter’s considerable creativity….a path she almost didn’t take had she not been true to her spirit.
As founder of the brand, Ruchika finds it very important to remain authentic – travelling and getting out of her comfort zone is her process for staying inspired and keeping herself relevant. “Meeting people from different cultures, it opens up your mind. A lot of our thoughts are borrowed, inherited while growing up, and we don’t realise it. I feel like the process of travelling helps me really question those. I have grown in terms of becoming more secure about my own process, and that security gives me more freedom. As a designer, self-confidence makes me enjoy the process even more, because that security gives me the ability to take certain risks and decisions that could be considered risky or offbeat.”
On the Fusion of Commerce + Philanthropy + Sustainability:
Staying true to her spirit drives her to stay true to her heritage, and her desire to make clothes in a meaningful way, Ruchika sources materials and fabrics from artisans all over India, which includes a community of weavers in the Himalayas. In Kullu, a town in the southern foothills of the Himalayas, Ruchika works side-by-side with Labbo, a handloom weaver who works as part of the Bhuttico artisan cooperative.
Her sustainable approach combined with age-old techniques championed by Indians is what caught the eye of Australian sheep grower organisation Woolmark. They awarded her AUS $200,000 for her womenswear collection to help bolster the brand. Other winners of the award include British designer Matthew Miller and American-tech brand Dyne.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done with local artisans. I have travelled all across India meeting rural communities and learning about their lives and the role of craft in their aspirations and livelihoods. I’ve spend time in the rural Himalayas with a third generation weaving facility and we were able to work with them to produce pieces that were part of the collection with which BODICE STUDIO won the Woolmark prize. Well obviously there is, as you know, a massive ongoing transformation of the economy and that causes a lot of broader social and cultural changes. These in themselves alter the way people consume fashion and the way they see fashion as part of their identity and daily lives. I would say that fashion is taken more seriously as a business and our base of clients who are happy to invest in more directional pieces, as well as our staple classics is growing.”
To learn more about Ruchika’s creative work, visit bodice.co.in