After Paris Fashion Week Debut, Kartik Research Plans to Open Stores

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    Coming off a mixed year that saw him reach the semifinals of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers, only to be embroiled in a legal challenge over his clothing brand’s name, Kartik Kumra appears to be starting 2024 on the right foot. 

    On Sunday, he staged his first physical presentation, which twinned as his debut on the Paris Fashion Week menswear schedule.

    This season, Kumra wanted to find a balance between a romanticized vision of colonial India and the messy reality of a fast-evolving country with a complex history. He was inspired by a photo series by Aaryan Sinha detailing the impact of the partition that accompanied India’s independence in 1947.

    The theme was reflected in his choice of fabrics and colors, such as suits in military-inspired shades of olive green and brown — only his featured delicate geometric Kasuti embroidery on the lapels.

    Kumra made sure to include plenty of the heirloom-style pieces that fans of the label have come to expect, including a silk velvet jacket block printed with natural dyes made from onion skin, tree bark or pomegranate rind, and a super soft ivory handloomed wool jacket that took six days to embroider.

    The show also marked the launch of his womenswear line, featuring the same craft-intensive techniques.

    In addition, the collection featured pieces from Kartik Research’s upcoming collaboration with British outerwear brand Baracuta, known for its G9 Harrington jacket. Here, it was interpreted in quilted fabrics with a handloomed version of its signature checked lining.

    “It’s clothes that get better with age,” said Kumra. The entrepreneur founded his brand in 2021 with $5,000 he made from flipping Yeezys while studying economics and politics at the University of Pennsylvania.

    He plans to open his first store in New Delhi next month, hoping to fill a gap in the market and surf on a surge in luxury spending in the world’s most populous nation.

    “The start-up ecosystem is so crazy that new wealth creation is unlike anywhere else in the world, which is exciting for a brand like mine as well, because you’re very quickly seeing the rise of a domestic market that didn’t exist two years ago when we started,” he said.

    He’s eyeing New York City next, with a second store due to open in July that will become the base for a global direct-to-consumer business. Kumra isn’t immune to the hiccups faced by any young designer, but his track record so far suggests he will do just fine.

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