Whether it’s her positive outlook on life, her simplicity, great hospitality or carefree personality, there’s something so charming about Vinita Pittie. A fashion designer who began her career over 30 years ago, she runs a well-established brand of women’s clothing that is designed and manufactured in her gorgeous haveli in the old city of Hyderabad. We caught up with her over scrumptious chai in kulhars, to find out more about her work.
How did you get into designing?
My husband pushed me into it in the ‘80s, and I thought the best way to win my own home is to start from the outside. It’s a human trait to like your own when somebody else talks about it, so I had my first exhibition in Kolkata, where I had made mull khada dupattas; it completly sold out. After that we tried to conquer Mumbai, and by God’s grace within no time we were known within the country. I really never spent anything on advertising; it was all word-of-mouth, and luckily we made it into Gladrags magazine, where we did a shoot with Sanjana Kapoor. It was one of the most beautiful shoots ever. My collection was made of mull and I had made this beautiful anarkali, a unique style back in the day, which had 40 kalis and 30 metres at the circumference. After that I had exhibitions in art galleries, all of which sold out as well. There were times when people would wait on the pavement until the store was opened.
Designing came to me as easy as breathing. I never thought of designing as a career back then. But when I got engaged in 1976, at the age of 16, people would often comment on my sense of fashion, although I never spent much money on my clothing. It was my husband who encouraged me to get into this as a profession. Being a housewife who made a career of something she enjoyed, while sitting at home, was a big thing back in those days, and seeing so many people doing the same now gives me a sense of happiness.
Is your work a depiction of your own personality?
I wouldn’t say all of it depicts my personality because today, at my age and stature, I have restrictions. But I would’ve loved to see myself in them. It is very satisfying for me to see people happy while dressed in my creations; it is highly gratifying. I always make things that I can see myself buying. My advice to budding designers is to never make something that you don’t like or wouldn’t buy yourself. So, yes, I would buy 99% of my creations.
Where do you retail your collections?
I only do exhibitions, all across the country. In fact, I’ve found a great platform in ABsalut Style by Archie and Bobby. They have a unique style of operating and they’re definitely a class above the rest. Apart from Hyderabad, I showcase my works in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. I’ve also worked for various Miss India shows in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
What are the challenges in your field?
Manifesting what you have in mind is definitely challenging. In the beginning of my career, Hyderabad had very limited resources pertaining to the field of design, so for every little thing we’d have to go to Mumbai. But it’s not so anymore. Everything is easily sourceable now. In fact, I’d say Hyderabad is home to the greatest fabrics in India.
The other challenges are that today the fashion field is so vibrant and vast that the minute you bring out a collection, although the client pays a hefty amount for each piece, unfortunately they can’t repeat it again next season. But that’s not so with classics. So I usually make something that’s neither too classic nor too contemporary. I’ve always believed in mix and match, so that people can derive the maximum outcome from a certain outfit. They can wear the dupatta with a different outfit, the blouse with another saree, etc.
What is your personal style like?
I believe in wearing something that doesn’t make me fidgety, something in which I’m comfortable and, above all, something that is flattering. I love wearing handlooms, and there’s no colour I wouldn’t wear.
Who’s been your biggest support system through your journey?
My family and, most importantly, my husband.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love to cook, and it doesn’t have to be something fancy. I like to make regular ghar ka khana. I love decorating the house, exercising and living a good life.
You’re a very positive person, and comes out in your work too…
When you enjoy what you do, it always has a better outcome. And I am a very positive person in general. I endeavour to make people happy and transfer my positivity to the people who wear my clothes, too.
Any advice to budding designers?
Most people, whatever line they may be in, tend to get intimidated by the work of their contemporaries, and end up not living up to their own potential in the bargain. Just draw your line and follow it; don’t shy away from your goals. Don’t indulge in competition; just be in harmony with yourself and the universe. --- as told to Niharika