Free­dom in a Drape!

Pro­fil­ing Udd Stu­dio and its de­sign­ers

Apparel - - Contents -

She was a graphic de­signer by pro­fes­sion; and by pas­sion, an artist. Her doo­dles and scrib­bles were an es­cape from her mun­dane, ev­ery­day world. And un­til she reached her sev­enth note­book she had no clue of what was about to un­ravel. Yuti Ed­ward, the founder of Udd Stu­dio, never as­pired to be a busi­ness­woman but al­ways knew that she is cut out for some­thing bet­ter than the or­di­nary in her heart. Her hus­band pushed her to give shape to her out-of-the-box think­ing and that’s how Udd was born. Car­ry­ing for­ward the le­gacy of Udd with a con­fi­dent smile, she took out some time off from her busy sched­ule to talk to us.

TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT BOTH OF YOU. HOW DID YOU GAIN FANCY TO­WARDS TEX­TILES?

It was back in 2010, on one of our hol­i­day trips to a friend’s farm that the idea of Udd was born. Be­ing a graphic de­signer by pro­fes­sion back then, I al­ways used to carry a note­book with me and I had it with me on our va­ca­tion. I am very fond of doo­dling and my hus­band (Atul Ed­ward) has al­ways mo­ti­vated me to take my doo­dles a step ahead. The ul­ti­mate idea of trans­lat­ing my doo­dles into tex­tiles hap­pened when I ex­hib­ited my art to a close group of friends and fam­ily. They saw my de­signs and re­marked how some of what I drew would look lovely on a gar­ment. That pushed me to take it fur­ther. Since the start, from Warli art to Mad­hubani paint­ings, all art has in­spired my col­lec­tions and that is how I have taken my tra­di­tional in­spi­ra­tions to cloth for Udd.

AS A DE­SIGNER BY ED­U­CA­TION, HOW CHAL­LENG­ING HAS THE JOUR­NEY BEEN WITH UDD?

In­deed, it has been a chal­leng­ing jour­ney of sorts filled with mem­o­ries that only made me stronger. I have never felt that not know­ing the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of the tex­tile and ap­parel in­dus­try is a draw­back. Rather, I took it in my stride to build my­self bit by bit, ac­quaint my­self with the lit­tle tech­ni­cal­i­ties and it is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for sure. How­ever, I would surely ad­mit that be­ing a fash­ion or a tex­tile grad­u­ate kind of pre­pares an in­di­vid­ual thor­oughly in a more ad­vanced way so that when they start their own la­bel they are more adept to it. It was not the same for me but that’s my jour­ney and what sets me on track, I guess.

TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT THE COL­LEC­TION YOU HAVE.

Our de­signs are a con­flu­ence of an­cient knowl­edge, tra­di­tional tech­niques, and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy. Ev­ery range we launch brings forth a unique style of fu­sion. Udd’s pop­u­lar col­lec­tions, so far, have been Ko­lam, At­mann, Rang, Baraka, Udd Panchi, Me­hendi Man­chali, Vrin­da­van, Warli Gatha, Patch­work Range, Totem Tan­dav, and Ma­hot­sav. The unique style of sto­ry­telling and idea of putting In­dia’s tra­di­tion to the fore­front has been ev­i­dent in Udd’s col­lec­tion right from the ini­tial days and our en­tire col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing saris, lehen­gas, du­pat­tas, skirts, and dresses, speaks shows our ex­per­i­men­tal ideas. We also tell our tale through fab­rics such as chan­deri, cot­ton, khadi, and silk and through fab­ric tech­niques such as tie and dye, shi­bori, etc.

YOU ARE TRAV­EL­LING ALL ACROSS IN­DIA WITH UDD. TELL US A LIT­TLE ABOUT THE EN­TIRE JOUR­NEY.

Well, I do at­tend ex­hi­bi­tions in In­dia with Udd. But, I would want to limit them to 5-6 ex­hi­bi­tions a year. I feel this mo­d­ule of dis­play­ing your brand at ex­hi­bi­tions is an ex­haus­tive process and if I go on re­ly­ing on ex­hi­bi­tions en­tirely for the suc­cess of my brand then the other is­sues such as lo­gis­tics, trav­el­ling costs, and other re­lated pa­ram­e­ters will take the fore­front rather than my col­lec­tion or cre­ativ­ity. So, I want to stay fo­cused on the col­lec­tion as­pect first and pour in my en­ergy to evolve the brand and I be­lieve then the brand will have the strength to travel the whole world on its own.

HOW DO YOU DIF­FER­EN­TI­ATE YOUR­SELF FROM MANY OF YOUR CON­TEM­PO­RARIES?

I think our art back­bone helps us dis­tin­guish our­selves from the oth­ers. We lacked the knowl­edge of the in­dus­try, but we be­lieved in art. Thus, how we have amal­ga­mated the two, keep­ing in mind the mar­ket, sets us away from the rest. We would love for peo­ple to know us as a tex­tile brand that brings to life de­signs and art on fab­ric. Also, our tech­nique is unique as we do not only con­cen­trate on one style, rather we be­lieve

in ex­plor­ing styles based on the de­sign in­tent and re­quire­ment. For ex­am­ple, we use a lot of hand­wo­ven styles along­side dig­i­tal print­ing. So, this fu­sion does keep us apart from the rest. WHAT IS THE STORY BE­HIND THE NAME OF YOUR LA­BEL? Udd is de­rived from the Hindi word ‘ Udaan’. In­spired from the idea of free­dom from the mun­dane, ev­ery­day cir­cle of life. This name came nat­u­rally to me when I was plan­ning to break away from the mo­not­o­nous ev­ery­day life I was lead­ing for years. Udd sym­bol­ises free­dom and our col­lec­tion epit­o­mises the idea of seek­ing free­dom from the reg­u­lar and gives our tak­ers a breather so that they can give a break to cum­ber­some cloth­ing.

FROM THE GRASS­ROOTS LEVEL TO THE FI­NAL PROD­UCT, WHAT IS THE JOUR­NEY OF YOUR AP­PAREL?

It has been a pretty chal­leng­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, as we work with crafts­men and ar­ti­sans from ev­ery cor­ner of In­dia. So, firstly, we have to ex­ten­sively travel around to get our col­lec­tions made and then it is the next stage wherein we have to make sure that all our de­signs and ef­forts are get­ting trans­lated on the ap­parel ex­actly the way we have vi­su­alised. Most of our ar­ti­sans live in the ru­ral belts, so they have to de­pend on na­ture to a great ex­tent. Liv­ing in cities, we have tech­nol­ogy by our side, which is partly ab­sent in the ru­ral life­style, where even slight rain can de­te­ri­o­rate work­ing stan­dards and de­lay pro­duc­tion. So, fi­nally, af­ter cross­ing all these hur­dles, we get to the fi­nal prod­uct. We do feel that sense of com­ple­tion that makes the jour­ney worth its tri­als.

HOW HAS THE RE­SPONSE FOR YOUR CRAFT BEEN SO FAR?

If I had to sum up our jour­ney in a word, then I will say that it has re­ally been ‘great’ so far. We have been very lucky to have so many pa­trons for Udd, given the fact that we knew noth­ing about tex­tiles and ap­par­els when we en­tered the mar­ket. The re­sponse we have been get­ting since day one

tells us we are on the right track and what makes me re­ally proud is that we ac­tu­ally have re­peat cus­tomers for our col­lec­tion, peo­ple who are hooked to our cre­ations. This over­whelms me, and mo­ti­vates me to do more ev­ery day.

HOW DIF­FI­CULT IS IT TO CON­VINCE CON­SUMERS TO MAKE THE SWITCH TO NAT­U­RAL CLOTH­ING?

Well, I would say it is not so dif­fi­cult to march the cus­tomers in the right di­rec­tion as peo­ple have be­come more con­scious of late and they know what they want. Women, es­pe­cially, want to ex­plore breath­able, easy cloth­ing that they can wear all day long. So the gen­eral ten­dency for them is to buy lay­ered, flowy, and easy to wear clothes and noth­ing can re­place nat­u­ral fab­rics in this depart­ment. I will be happy to share this fact that our cus­tomers have be­come so aware of what they are buy­ing that to­day they do not feel shy to ques­tion what we of­fer and test us in terms of the dyes we use, the au­then­tic­ity of the craft, etc. It does make you strive harder to per­fect your craft to ex­cel in the fu­ture.

HOW DO YOU PRO­MOTE THE BRAND; ARE YOU SELL­ING OUT OF IN­DIA TOO?

We do have a good NRI cus­tomer base and I am more than happy to con­nect to a new cus­tomer base through our so­cial me­dia pages and web­site. To speak the truth, we have never re­ally con­cen­trated on hard­core pro­mo­tions for Udd. Rather, I was lucky to get tak­ers who were in­ter­ested to buy, wear, and spread a word about Udd, based on their own ex­pe­ri­ences with the brand. You can say word of mouth got us more cus­tomers than we could ever imag­ine. We have started do­ing lovely pho­tog­ra­phy cam­paigns on In­sta­gram very re­cently and they are be­ing re­ceived very well, too.

ANY FU­TURE PLANS FOR THE LA­BEL?

We want to con­tinue on our path to ex­plore the ar­ti­sanal route and col­lab­o­rate with artists and com­mu­ni­ties to bring out In­dia’s tra­di­tional craft forms into the lime­light and along with that we also want to take our brand closer to the young au­di­ence by in­tro­duc­ing an elab­o­rate range for our ac­ces­sories and bags col­lec­tion. We are also con­sid­er­ing di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion to add a home seg­ment to our brand in the time to come.

UDD SYM­BOL­ISES FREE­DOM.

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