Catching Up with the Designer Preferred by Kiran Rao and Mira Nair

Rina Singh is the woman behind Eka, a label that is best known for its comfortable clothing.

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Lifestyle
4 min read
Filmmaker Kiran Rao, author Arundhati Roy, director Mira Nair, all in Eka. (Photo Courtesy: Eka)

Indian summers are rough, harsh, and unforgiving. Organzas best be spared from a weather like this.

But thanks to brands like Eka, the Indian woman can find solace in her cool indigo dyed dresses and non-restrictive silhouettes.

The striking thing about Eka’s designs is how fluid they are – giving the wearer a feeling that she is truly uninhibited; as free in movement as she is in thought.

We caught up with designer Rina Singh, the creative force behind the label, that has also been nominated from India for the coveted International Woolmark Prize 2016 – 17, the winners of which will be announced in July.

The striking thing about Eka’s designs is how fluid they are – giving the wearer a feeling that she is truly uninhibited; as free in movement as she is in thought. Stocked in some of the most eclectic stores in India, like Bombay Electric, Ogaan and Ensemble, it is a preferred label for the likes of Arundhati Roy, director Kiran Rao, Mira Nair and the quintessentially best dressed Sabina Chopra.

(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)

What Does Eka Stand for?

Eka stands for soulful everyday luxury, made for living in. The collections are designed to be timeless, with a quiet, subtle femininity. 
Rina Singh, Eka
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)

The distinct character of each piece gives the wearer the autonomy to mix and match otherwise clashing prints, creating an unusual story of their own.

(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
“What is unshapely to some is Avant Garde to others.”

On The Loose, Unrestrained Silhouettes

The silhouettes are designed in a way to make the wearer feel confident and easy about their own body. The fact is that natural materials crush, or cave in the curves of the body; they give a feeling of fitting just right. The shape is revealed elegantly.
Rina Singh, Designer 
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
Eka personifies Indian minimalism. It can look as fab in a French street as in a New York setting, and yet its soul will eternally remain Indian. 
Not consciously but somewhere the minimalism in entirety is my calling.
Rina Singh, Designer
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
The collections are lovingly and sustainably handcrafted from traditional Indian hand woven textiles, but in a contemporary, versatile style that echoes the Ekà way of living: light and unrestrictive in form, pure and organic in substance. 
Rina SIngh

Eka’s clothes come in linens, khadis and blends for summers and lightweight silk wool, and linen-wool blends for pre-fall. Extreme winters employ the use of lightweight merino wool dresses, and boiled wool merino for a heavier look. Rina presents twice a year at Paris and India Fashion Week.

(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)

Rina’s designs can be accused of being too simplistic to the untrained eye, but it really is about the fine fabrics and how delicately she adds the cuts to them, which lend in her designs a self-assured look, she says.

What appears easy and ordinary is derived after a lot of trial and error and cutting several toiles.
Rina Singh, Eka
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)
(Photo Courtesy: Eka)

My questions to Rina aren’t about her next collection – that would be living in the future – which to me is contradictory to the spirit that her designs reflect – of living in the now, of enjoying everyday luxury. My main motive is to get her to answer how she came about to design that what many in India would find unshapely. Her answer personifies the sartorial nonchalance that her brand oozes.

Being comfortable and dressing up are no longer mutually exclusive. Looser shapes and volume have become increasingly important for womenswear, to put comfort before fashion. Building in soft layers, easy volumes and rich textiles with an extra sharp eye for workmanship and fit is my critical path. What is unshapely to some is Avant Garde to others.
Rina Singh

Rina would still want to design “feminine clothes” someday, she tells me. But not the stereotypical ones, of course. Feminity blended with comfort, to her, is too creative a context, to let go off for a passing trend.

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