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Verve Trendsetters
December 20, 2016

Ragini Ahuja’s Ikai Will Have You Hooked

Text by Ranjabati Das. Photograph by Ankush Maria

Sharp, focused and purposeful, it’s designer Ragini Ahuja’s singular attention to detailing that makes her stand out

The name of her label is a marriage of ik or ‘one’ in Hindi and ai, which is Japanese for ‘love’. Merging casual cool with statement staples and relaxed anti-fits, Ikai uses a tech-meets-tradition approach with functionality at the core. Known for the signature flowy tunics and boxy jackets that are hard to pigeonhole (but easy to tag!), the brand epitomises all-round comfortable clothing that’s feminine yet edgy. You don’t have to be a fashion savant to know that putting together an ensemble is an art, one that Ragini Ahuja has mastered.

A self-confessed tomboy in her younger years, the 28-year-old Delhi girl grew up wearing her “father’s oversized shirts with rolled-up denims”, hinting at how she developed an androgynous no-fuss style early on. Astutely aware of her affinity towards design and drawing since her school days, Ragini moved on to illustrating with ink on paper as a young adult, fine-tuning her passion into a potential career option that she could graduate to. “I always knew I had to translate my art into utilitarian design,” she says about her choice of profession, adding, “Being a designer was thus the obvious choice; alternatively I’d be an architect.”

The popularity of Ikai, which shot to fame with an impressive debut at LFW in 2013, rides on its incredibly practical collections — synonymous with natural fabrics — that exude luxury without any trace of pretence. “We might tweak it here or there but a constant in our lines would be the long ankle-length dress that is easy to wear irrespective of the age group. The label is tailored for a mature audience. I’d say real women with real imperfections and curves can pull off my designs the best,” Ragini asserts. She sums up the Ikai woman as “fearless and someone who knows what she is doing, where she’s headed, how she will wear what”. And if she could pick anyone to walk the ramp for her, who would it be? “Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi,” Ragini replies, without skipping a beat.

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