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Fashion Talk

Abhishek Agarwal

CEO and Founder
Wendell Rodricks

Wendell’s signature style is minimal-chic

Late Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, is known for his minimalistic collection, activism for social causes, the environment, and gay rights. In 2014, the government of India had conferred upon him its fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri. Mumbai-based Purple Style Labs Pvt Ltd (PSL), that operates several luxury fashions brands, has acquired the eponymous label of Rodricks. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, Abhishek Agrawal, CEO and Founder, Purple Style Labs, on behalf of the late designer, shares his thoughts on maintaining the signature style of the label.

Fibre2Fashion: What made you take over the iconic brand? Do you have a background in fashion as well?

Abhishek Agarwal:

I obviously do not have a background in fashion, since by education I am an aerospace engineer from IIT Bombay and worked as an equities derivatives banker with Deutsche at the beginning of my career. The idea of starting PSL struck me in May 2015, when I noticed the lack of organised premium luxury fashion in India and saw an opportunity to create India’s LVMH. India needed a luxury fashion house that not only brought designers to the forefront but also gave international customers easy access to Indian fashion, which led to the inception of PSL.


F2F: Define the Wendell Rodrick’s signature style. What are the classic staples present in each of his collections?


Wendell’s signature style is minimal-chic with a focus on eco-friendly and sustainable fashion--lending ancient Indian geometry with a relaxed Goan attitude. Using natural Indian fabrics, cut in a linear line, the silhouette is sheer, layered, draped and fluid. Emphasis is on concrete themes, experimental colour combinations, exotic fibre weaves, structural simplicity based on geometric Indian shapes and hand-painted details.

F2F: The world of fashion industry is tilting towards sustainability. Do they find implementation in all Wendell Rodricks collections? If not, is the focus moving in that direction?


While being a pioneer in resortwear, Wendell advocated wearable fashion, and popularised eco-friendly fashion. Taking his legacy ahead our focus is to put sustainability at the core of the brand’s creations. As a brand, our purpose lies in incorporating a lens of consciousness into all our business practices. Where each policy is continuously reviewed with the best practice, adapted, and improved upon to meet our own goals of energy consumption and repurposing resources. With each new collection, we are taking strides towards larger sustainable goal. It is a constant effort.

Sustainability for me is a lifestyle where you give back to the planet more than you take away from it. We focus on improving our sourcing to more ethical raw materials, introduce interventions to our manufacturing that has a minimum impact on ecology and ensure that our end-products justify the means of production. It is these baby steps that will create a large impact in the long run.

F2F: Tell us a bit about the design process and silhouette originality which goes behind each collection.


Wendell has always been called the guru of minimalism. Times change, trends change but the label Wendell Rodricks will remain true to its original style. The Wendell Rodricks signature style - keep it simple. We would like to establish a resonance with Wendell’s aesthetic and stay true to his design sensibilities. For his new collection Reminiscence, we’ve re imagined his classics.

F2F: Where is the sourcing of fabrics and accessories done from? Is the production work outsourced to vendors?


We source from all over the country - Goa, Kolkata, Kerala, Bengaluru, Mumbai to name a few. We try to maintain a balance between reaching out to indigenous producers and producing in house.

F2F: Who is the target audience? Where is the clientele majorly from (in terms of geographies)?


Wendell’s loyalists and veterans are our buyers, that being said anyone who resonates with minimalism, free flowing silhouettes and eco-friendly fashion is our target audience. Our buyers span from all over the country, while we also get international buyers in Goa, who love Wendell’s collections.

F2F: How easy or difficult is it to get to the point where you get to dress celebs or even design for a movie?


Through our in house marketing team and PR agency, we regularly keep getting sourcing requests to dress celebrities. While designing for a movie is a complete different scenario as most big production houses typically do not work with a single fashion designer but rather a costume designer, whose task is to customise looks based on the characters in the film.

F2F: What is one current trend or trends that you see on the runway today that can become a rage among fashionistas going forward?


Sustainable and reusable fashion. Because of the pandemic, a return to simplicity.

F2F: How are the clothes retailed online and offline?


Online – on the official brand website, Pernia’s Pop Up Shop, Nykaa fashion, etc.
Offline – through brick & mortar stores like Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop all over the country, through the designers’ stand-alone store - coming up at Juhu Tara Road in Mumbai and various Multi Brand Outlet (MBOs) across the country.

F2F: Is the stocking of the label done in international stores as well?


As of now, we don’t stock internationally.

F2F: What are some of the innovative approaches that you would have undertaken for the brand to survive the pandemic?


The key focus was to strategise on building the brand and making it accessible to its loyalists and buyers from across the country.

F2F: What is the latest collection your design team is working on? How many styles does the collection have?


We are launching Reminiscence, in celebration of classics by Wendell Rodricks. More than just investment pieces, they serve as wardrobe heroes repeatedly. With this collection, we have brought them back to a refreshed avatar. Think of fun yet free-spirited styles that leave a lasting impression, splashed with striking colours and featuring whimsical lines. The resortwear range comprising billowing, breezy and contemporary silhouettes is infused with the label's signature minimalist aesthetic and made to defy trends. These trans-seasonal pieces pay homage to Wendell's distinguished design philosophy.

F2F: What advice would you give Gen Next designers?


Keep your state and your country in the clothes. Stay true to your roots and work hard to be creative.

Interviewer: Kiran Sahija
Published on: 07/09/2021
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