T+L A list

Raghavendra Rathore

Designer

Tapping into the rich cultural heritage of Jodhpur and his royal family while also designing NFTs, lifestyle designer Raghavendra Rathore is the perfect blend of tradition and modern innovation. By Sumeet Keswani

Being a member of the Jodhpur royal family, Raghavendra Rathore always had big shoes to fill. Not just in terms of responsibility, but also in the style department. His great-grandfather, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, is said to have been the most well dressed monarch of his time, who invented the Jodhpur-style safa (headgear) and popularised the long, printed achkan. Rathore has not only lived up to his fashion lineage, but also endowed it with global fame.

After studying at Parsons School of Design in New York, and working with Donna Karan New York (DKNY) and Oscar de la Renta, Rathore understood the importance of weaving his family’s cultural legacy into his designs. In 1994, he launched the label ‘Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur’ at 27 years of age. With heritage as inspiration, he reinvented the Jodhpuri bandhgala and made it his own. Today, Rathore says, the bandhgala is evolving in cut, detailing, and fabrication. But the silhouette remains as trendy as ever. “Bespoke is the new normal, and buying a ready-made bandhgala is seen as McDonaldisation of the historic outfit,” he points out.

Rathore defines his design as “classic, stylish, and heritage-driven.” The brand dresses people from all walks of life who have reached new levels of success. Moreover, its emphasis on bespoke designing makes it a naturally sustainable brand. His inspiration may lie in the past, but Rathore is a man finely attuned to the present—and the future. He recently became the first Indian designer to convert his art into NFTs for a cause. The NFTs will raise awareness and funds for initiatives of the Raghavendra Rathore Foundation—and help empower communities through mentorship programmes, cultural experiences, and scholarship opportunities.

Rathore has a keen eye for trends. He sees the rising inclusivity in Western design as an indicator of a market shift. “Consumption has slowed down in the West considerably, whereas the insatiable appetite of the Asian markets has not even begun. The community is now designing products for a new audience with a cultural diversity they have never seen before.” With Rathore as part of our A-List for 2022, you can rest assured that your travel wardrobe will see a regal facelift.