Kavita Hegde: Redifining Design in India, Globally

Bangalore, India.  At the first sight , Kavita Hegde hardly seems like someone who could be doing hardcore business in the cut-throat competition of the design industry. Neither is she dressed like a stereotypical business honcho nor does she speak with a stiff upper lip. Welcoming you to her little boutique ‘Theas’ in a peaceful residential area, Kavita takes you through her ideas and philosophy and how anyone, if well-inspired can achieve what she did.

“I hail from a culturally rich business family. My father exported herbal products and my mother was one of the pioneers in introducing the importance of permanent cosmetic in India”, she says about her first family influences that drew her to business. Everyone wonders when a new place launches with an even newer name; more so if it is rather odd for a little place in south of India. “I named my daughter ‘Thea’ , a Greek name meaning ‘god’s gift’. My store is named after my daughter ‘Thea’ who is a great bundle of energy and creativity. She inspires me to strive harder. I found a niche market to cater to the tastes for the urban elite, which evolved into the brand ‘Theas’. The products at my store would ideally cater to those looking for indo-western, ethnic designer wear where design and quality are not compromised. Design is nothing but good sensibility, style and aesthetics combined and as a globe-trotter for the last 15 years I’ve been exposed to world fashion and culture and what I absorbed is reflected at Theas,” says Kavita , speaking about how she started off. She worked for seven years with an international airline in Singapore before she decided to return and start her brand.

Native Identity.  Anyone who wants to open a beauty business in India would ideally look at the capital city of New Delhi or the entertainment and economic capital Mumbai. “I was born and brought up in Bangalore and have observed its rapid transition to a huge metropolis. Over the last two decades the city, which was earlier known as the ‘Garden City’ is now referred to as the software capital of India. Its culturally diverse population and their harmonious existence is a testimony to its growth. The ambiance here is unique and distinct from the parts of the country. It is now recognized as one of sought after destinations in the world. The city also is privileged to have a culturally diverse and brand-conscious people. The incremental disposable income is also an important factor for choosing Bangalore for my launch store,” says Kavita who has plans to expand her business soon. “Bangalore is a city filled with humility and warmth and with its tech-savvy citizens. International brands are easier to set shop here as the people are in tune with the current fashion trends. If this city is packaged in a complete mode of business, fashion and entertainment and still retain its old world charm like how Hong Kong is, it will definitely be the ‘it’ destination”, she adds, speaking about her love for her city and the potential it can have for future growth.

New Ideas Galore.  So what is different about a brand like Theas? “Indian art has always had an underlying influence on fashion in terms of color, patterns, embroidery and styles of clothing, some of it which can be seen on the rich traditional costumes. Contemporary Indian art has contrasting colors and abstract patterns and is increasingly popular now. In order to appreciate beauty one must be able to look beyond the ordinary. Theas designs reflect the ever-changing facets of Indian wear infused with a style that appeal to the denizens. I work closely with designers from different cities in India to create a portfolio according to the new trends. Theas is not your regular showroom but an eclectic ‘SOHO ’of a home converted into a studio which is aesthetically decorated so a client can lounge around while she has her personalized styling sessions. A limited collection of exquisite designer-wear by up-coming designers from across India which suits everyone’s sensibilities and moods makes Theas stand out from the regular ones”, she says speaking about her venture. For any successful business in the art cannot be a work on its own. There are several influences behind ones thoughts and ideas. “Fashion designer Sabyasachi’s designs are sheer poetry in motion. His texturing and ‘fusion’ of styles, vibrant eclectic colors definitely define his collections as international with an Indian soul. I love Stella McCartney’s sharp tailoring and her distinctly feminine aesthetic which makes her work stand apart”, she says about her own influences. After majoring in hotel management and working in an international airline for seven years, Kavita holds a degree in H R management from Australia before returning to India where she procured a law degree. “But fashion has been my true calling and this design house is an amalgamation of my dreams and home is where the heart is”, she affirms.

Designer Talk.  “Being brand conscious does not mean blindly following the trends and buying the most expensive products .I do like my brands and indulge on special occasions because it makes me feel good , I do not buy it to look cool or trendy. I personally prefer Gucci and Jimmy Choo for their divine footwear” says Kavita naming some of her favorite brands. At Theas , however, she has managed to strike a fine balance between her personal likes and what drives the market. “I closely monitor the latest in fashion trends and change my collection seasonally. I personally source out only those garments that suit my client’s sensibilities and do not believe in following fashion trends blindly as many of them are not practical and look good only for the ramp. My design philosophy is simplicity in elegance, enhancing through accessorizing and bold designs that flatter my clients”, she adds. In a day and age when just about anyone is setting up stores and businesses in the name of fashion and design, Theas stands out for its exclusivity and warmth, like a home-coming of sorts. “ Theas progressive growth has been due to its patrons who keep coming back each season. I plan to start an art café for my clients to enjoy a wholesome and relaxing shopping experience. We would also be expanding our contemporary jewelry collections. Obviously expansion is one aspect and the other being to bring sustainable fashion in terms of encouraging designers to use eco –friendly fashion philosophy to support environmentalism and increase social responsibility something on the lines of what designer Stella McCartney is famous for. As Aristotle Onassis said “to be successful you must act big think big and talk big” so I always believe in being positive and in my dreams as there is no stop till I reach the top. My immense faith in god also helps through any trying period”, says Kavita , signing off on a positive note. With stores like Theas, Bangalore or as they now call it Bengaluru adds another wonderful feather to its fashionable crown. Three cheers to Kavita and her vision. (ISG)

Images courtesy of ISG.

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Veejay Sai
Veejay Sai is a well-known writer, editor and a Culture critic. He writes on Indian classical music, dance, art and theatre, fashion, food and lifestyle. He is a special correspondent for the The Stewardship Report (SR) from India. He may be contacted at veejaysai.vs@gmail.com.