Ritu Kumar, the first lady of Indian fashion, lets her son blaze the company’s path

A life-changing moment in the history of the brand, however, came in the early 2000s when Kumar’s son, Amrish, now 39, inherited his mother’s legacy. A former banker with a keen business acumen, Amrish launched a pret (ready to wear) line called Label, in a sharp contrast to what his mother stood for.

“Even though Amrish understood the merit of what we were doing, he didn’t think it was meant for the next generation,” said Kumar, adding that in the early 2000s India’s demographics were changing sharply: A younger, global population was emerging.

For Amrish, who is now the CEO of the Ritu Kumar company, it was important to modernize the brand and cater to a younger, more international consumer.

“Label is inspired by shapes and designs from Paris, but their textiles are basically still very grounded in what is our strength,” said Kumar. But many industry old timers say that Label has diluted the Ritu Kumar brand.

Amrish was quick to defend: “Label is a classic sub brand strategy, which aims to expand the scope of the brand by including a larger and younger customer set. If we tried to do this with the parent brand there was a real danger of dilution and distraction.”

Three distinct brands still exist within the umbrella brand — RI, the premium bridal and formal wear; Ritu Kumar, the traditional semi-formal wear; and Label —but only the Label brand has been defining Ritu Kumar for the last few years, industry insiders said.

She is no longer the first choice for India’s huge bridal wear market, with younger designers taking over the mantle, as Kumar has been criticized for not focusing on innovating within her traditional…

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