Deepa Reddy, the designer who curates clothes for women as old as 80
This young entrepreneur has come up with a website, which is curating Indo-western designer wear for women over 50.
A shopping sojourn with Deepa Reddy was something her aunts really looked forward to. Nobody (sometimes not even they themselves) were as keen as Deepa was to find the right fit, the perfect motif, and the accessories to go with those motifs whenever they had to buy clothes for weddings and such. It was hard work and satisfaction was a rare guest.
But inspiration certainly turned up. “Here I was ever willing to go on shopping expeditions and look for the right clothes for my mother and aunts...but finding the right clothes was easier said than done,” says Deepa. That’s when she began to mull about “starting something herself” to cater to the designer needs of women of all ages. That ‘something’ turned out to be Open Trunk, a multi-designer online portal for women’s clothing, which Deepa started a few months ago.
Designer wear for all ages
Open Trunk, like the name suggests, is a ‘pitaara’ of textiles and designs. The portal, in a first of sorts, is providing a platform for over 40 designers from all over India to showcase their collections on one platform. Also, the designers have the space to launch portal-exclusive lines that will cater to women of all ages, with a special focus on those over 50 years.
"Our collections reflect the changing style trends among older women. It no longer means that once you hit 45 or 50, you have to stick to your home or step out only in heavy kanjeevarams, though there is nothing wrong in those," says Deepa. At Open Trunk, there are kanjeevarams too, apart from other seven yards silks; but there are also several variations such as the 'jacket over saree', long silk tunics, kurtas in rich colours like ochre, mustard and 'rani pink' with traditional mango motifs and Indo-western cut and style.
Ethnic weaves, handloom sarees, and kurtas are also a big part of the collection as are blouses, midi-dresses, salwars, and the ubiquitous waistcoat. Happily enough, the website offers ‘style help’ for its customers who might be wary of designer stuff or might be trying it out for the first time. "Since we cater to all ages, our aim is to make it easy for the customers – we offer them suggestions according to their body shape and the kind of occasion they are looking to buy for," says Deepa. She has also got real women to model the collections and this certainly gives the whole enterprise a feeling of authenticity.
So what do older women look for? "Women are on the move; they are strong, they are individualistic and that is exactly what they want their clothes to reflect," believes Deepa. Hence, fabrics such as organza and georgette often make an appearance. These cool fabrics with their light, breezy texture translate into easy, contemporary wear. "Pair them with a light jadav earring and that's all you need to look elegant for an evening out," she says.
Older women are looking to wear salwars that do not hang on them; sarees that do not make them look like they are at a wedding – they are looking to experiment with Indo-western wear such as long tunics, jackets, and midi-dresses but not many have recognised or understood their need, believes Deepa. She believes the USP of the portal, apart from its appeal to the older generation, lies in its combination of easy access and exclusivity. "You get to choose from collections by over 40 designers and yet each piece is handpicked and has no replica. We customise, of course, if the customer is looking for a particular size, but otherwise, we do not mass produce," she says.
Platform for young designers
The second aspect of Open Trunk is the platform it is offering to designers straight out of college. Through ‘Adiriti’, Open Trunk’s section for new talent, Deepa is trying to get youngsters on board. “Young designers are full of ideas but are short of display spaces. We offer them exactly that. They first intern with our designers and we encourage them to create a line. If we like what we see, we showcase their collection on the portal. In this way, they get precious hands-on experience as well as good promotion," she explains.
Deepa has no plans of a physical store and hopes to generate revenues only a little later. “At present, my focus is to establish the brand and reach my customers; revenues will come naturally,” she says. She intends to hold seasonal exhibitions and pop-ups to acquaint the customer with the collections. “This way, customers can see, touch, and feel what they would like to buy and then can go online to make the actual purchase,” she says.
“My biggest achievement is the satisfaction I have seen on women whose long search for the right outfit ended at Open Trunk,” she says. Indeed. Those who know what it feels like to wear ill-fitting clothes because of a lack of availability will understand her sentiment instantly.