“I want to use my experience in fashion and e-commerce to benefit society” – Sumedha Ramanan
Photographer: Giridhar Murugan Chettiar
Sumedha Ramanan is an emerging name to reckon with when it comes to Fashion and Style. From the South Indian State of Karnataka, She is Executive Director At Streetap, Bangalore. She’s is an alumni of The National Institute Of Fashion Technology Chennai and she has a worked in Marketing for e-commerce companies in Bangalore and Silicon Valley. In an exclusive interview with the News Kashmir, Sumedha Ramanan talks to Rameez Makhdoomi.
How far has pandemic impacted the world of style and clothing?
Initially the pandemic was indeed a serious shock to the fashion industry all over the world. While retail stores who are mainly dependent on footfalls suffered due to the lockdowns, the online sector also faced a set-back as people feared receiving packages. Nevertheless, as the world learnt to cope with the situation by the second year, we saw a spike in demand for ‘work-from-home’ outfits and at-home services in the online market segment. However, it is important to note that only 3% of fashion businesses in India are online and globally only 8% of fashion related sales take place through e-commerce platforms. Therefore I believe that it is the need of the hour to find more online representation for retail businesses and the onus lies on us, the new E-commerce generation of India.
Being a woman you are also into men’s wear ,a bit about that ?
One of my core beliefs when it comes to doing business, is to execute company operations at scale and employ talent to execute daily company operations instead of being involved in everything individually. Therefore, my gender isn’t a factor in business planning. It is a more intellectual process and doesn’t have anything to do with gender. It is more about automating functions like design, customer experience, job creation, etc. Personally, I found my enthusiasm for menswear design because it is very minimalistic and creatively challenging in nature. Unlike womenswear, which is very varied, designing menswear is all about changes we can make in the tiniest details. For example, I cannot change the way a shirt looks, but I can certainly give you a contrasting placket or accent button. Menswear also dabbles in advanced fabrics and ancient handmade techniques. Currently, I’m teaching Italian Couture to the unorganised sector and bringing the John Wick Bespoke Suiting experience to users at the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, I love designing for men because they usually come to us at the last minute with aggressive deadlines and as a strategy person I enjoy being on my toes and enabling quicker deliveries. At Streetap, we’re currently delivering customised tailored suits in four days.
What are your favourites in designing and styling ?
Recently I’m deeply fascinated with the ancient garment designs of India. There is so much more to Indian outfits than the saree. Whether it is the silhouettes of old-time garments like the Atamsukh and Angrakha or the non-repeating block printing techniques of Rajasthan, It is my professional opinion that these historic pieces are exceptional and quite unique in comparison to what we wear today. I believe it is time to stop and stare at the wonderful carvings on Qutub Minar or the marvellous tessellations on the walls of the Sheesh Mahal and bring our heritage art to what we wear. As far as styling is concerned, here’s a little tip – wear monochromes if you’re new to styling and when hanging out with your friends, steal their jacket to up your style quotient!
A bit about your fashion content writing ?
Being a fashion writer for e-commerce companies was perhaps one of the most glamorous and fun jobs I’ve ever had. My day would start with a quick take-away from Starbucks that took me through the first half that I spent writing about fashion whilst running into A-list celebrities like Hrithik Roshan and Nargis Fakhri at work ! Interestingly, fashion content writing jobs also dabble with brand marketing and therefore I found a varied set of opportunities. One even included playing a treasure hunt game online and hosting a fashion quiz! I was certainly living the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ life that all fashion savvy youngsters dream of. I’d like to tell your readers that if you are considering a job in content writing, it is better to be a specialist in the subject you wish to write about rather than only majoring in English. That was beneficial for my writing career.Your favourite fashion and style icons ? Bella Hadid, I think, is surely on her way to becoming the next Marylin Monroe and her lung necklace is certainly iconic in reflecting today’s times. In styling, I love Tom Hiddleston’s choices as they’re classy and understated. Tom Ford on the other hand is certainly a great designer as well as a fashion icon in himself. In India, I believe Karishma Kapoor’s outfits are severely underrated for what they actually are! I think she has a spectacular eye for fashion
Your goals ?
Since I’ve studied fashion from NIFT and worked as a marketer in the e-commerce industry, it is my personal goal to use my specialisation and experience to benefit society. Currently 97% of the GDP contribution of the Indian Fashion Sector (except watches) comes from the unorganised sector. The unorganised sector finds itself underrepresented in the online world and it is my mission to bring them to the forefront of the e-commerce industry and increase their sales without charging them commissions. While I have just started, I’m happy to note that a vendor of mine who was previously dependent on footfalls has now completely moved to the Streetap model and was also able to take a vacation with his family after a long time, due to better margins and sales. Even though startups can be challenging, these little wins keep me going.
A bit about your leather jackets you manufacture?
When it comes to leather, people have many apprehensions because they feel it is not animal friendly. However, leather is a by-product of the food industry. In order to curb over-use, we only buy material on order. Our leather jackets are hand-crafted, and they employ workers from the unorganised sector. Regardless of the design and colour, our leather jackets come at a standard price. They are cut and sewn to size and delivered in 7 days. We do not make or sell faux leather as it is made of plastic and has a short lifespan, which in turn increases waste and degrades the environment. I certainly urge people to buy leather instead as it lasts for more than a decade and gets better with wear.