A magnificent landscape reflects glories of the city’s historical past, even as its palaces and relics stand testament to its majestic grandeur. It is in this vibrant and historic city of Jaipur that trendsetter Raghavendra Rathore will soon set up a first-of-its-kind institute, the Gurukul School of Design (GSD).
Set to open in August, the GSD will offer unique programmes in fashion designing, which will be taught by world-class international and Indian faculty. Embracing every aspect of fashion design, fashion merchandising, fashion marketing and management, the programmes will also include courses in well-being. This would make studying at the GSD a truly holistic learning experience.
The GSD was a dream project for the designer, who spent years to transform his vision into reality. Asked about this unique venture and how he plans to nurture talent through an alternative learning practice, a thoughtful Rathore says, “The gift of education brings to the brand and me a level of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment that is much higher than when I unveil a runway collection. Nothing in the world is impossible if you apply your mind to it. The key is to have a good and a dependable team. Through the GSD, we will strive to introduce the next generation of designers to a new way of thinking ‘design’, and will also help them communicate and apply it to enhance the overall impact of design. No doubt there will be hurdles, but even if we reach the mark halfway, it will be gratifying.”
A new horizon
The internationally acclaimed designer is content with his choice of location and says he is not looking to expand the GSD by launching new branches at the moment. He wants to concentrate on the project in Jaipur and focus on bringing it to life. To this end, a special curriculum has been meticulously designed by Rathore and international and local experts, whose ability to understand the Gurukul methodology is astounding and whose enthusiasm is a delight. The programme stresses on a deeper understanding of design, the ability to visualise and market a creative idea with modern communication tools, and building business acumen while staying true to the Gurukul way of life.
The programme spans four years and takes the students on a journey that introduces them to a fascinating array of unique and short courses. These design hacks aim to strengthen their foundation of design and skill sets, which will eventually come handy later in their lives. “The programmes have been conceptualised by my friends from the industry, experts from across the globe and our core team. One of the purposes of the various projects and programmes at the GSD is a strong desire to give back to society. Another is to encourage young talent to think out of the box,” explains Rathore.
To this end, the location of the campus in Jaipur will give students immediate access to handicrafts, endless textiles and rare techniques, which makes this region a global cultural hub. The hustle and bustle of a large city, which can be a distraction, will be replaced by a serene locale and the calmness of the Gurukul methodology. The overall aim is to provide students with a sound and holistic education.
Setting the trend
Born and raised in the Rajasthan city of Jodhpur, Rathore is an internationally acclaimed and trained designer, whose fashion legacy is synonymous with bespoke luxury in the country. The designer has revived the way men dress in India and has introduced many changes through his label, which is synonymous with Jodhpuri bandhgala suits. These traditionally crafted designs have also brought the designer international acclaim.
The focus, however, has not been only on building a brand name. From giving shape to designs to make them ramp ready to crafting the best values to impart a holistic education to young minds, Rathore has come a long way. His futuristic approach and ideals can surely make his venture a success. “A philanthropic approach in creating the Raghavendra Rathore lifestyle brand has been an essential part of the business plan. I believe the future of luxury is not limited to simply selling clothes. The speed with which technology is bringing about a shift in how we do things, does mean that a generation can unearth their progress only when they start becoming a part of the bigger business growth,” he adds.
But a trendsetter can never stay in the background. So, creating and reviving new designs remains a focus with Rathore. He feels that being a bespoke brand, they understand their clientele extremely well. The designer observes major trends and changes in demand, and then he and his team get involved
in redefining products for their valued customers.
Men’s fashion in India has undergone tremendous change over the years. Rathore has had a major role to play in its evolution. His eye for detail and understanding of trends has led to spectacularly original creations. Talking about what one can expect in the future, he says, “The availability of good designs by brands from Europe has evolved the overall aesthetics. In other words, a client today is more fashionable and has higher expectations, especially from a bespoke brand. This will further multiply and eventually a new breed of consumers will evolve who are looking for luxury products. But the question is will the luxury retail segment be able to catch up? The answer is still five to six years away.”
Change—the new mantra
“The only concern that I foresee is the right intake of talent. We are very strict about the calibre of the students coming into the college. We would prefer a small batch in the first few years,” says Rathore, while talking about the selection procedure and what they are looking for initially.
Once a part of the GSD, the students are sure to make creations that far exceed the peripherals of design. And Raghavendra Rathore is taking a keen interest in ensuring that value building plays an important factor in his institute for generations to come.