Raghavendra Rathore is sitting in his office at the brand’s bespoke suiting store in Delhi’s Khan Market. Behind him is a pin board, on which tear sheets from magazines feature almost every Indian celebrity in his designs. However, Raghavendra – or Raghu, as his friends call him – is more interested in talking about the frequent trips he takes to his family’s palace resort, Ajit Bhawan, in the wilds of Rajasthan.
“It’s the place where I go to refresh. When I’m there, I hike every morning to get my emails from the top of the mountain,” he laughs. “It’s where I get the best signal! I was there when I got the news about Zegna. I got a call saying there needs to be a chat. I sat on the hill looking at the beautiful landscape. I told Darshan Mehta [president and CEO of Reliance Brands] I’d love to meet the family before we take any decisions. We went to Lake Como and we had a nice meeting with the younger and older generations of the Zegna family, to see what their future plans are.”
In 2018, Zegna and Reliance Brands Limited picked up a minority stake in the brand for an undisclosed amount. It established a three-way partnership that industry insiders are flagging as a roadmap for home-grown luxury brands in South Asia to accelerate their international reach.
The label is renowned for its signature bandhgala and Jodhpur breeches, two items that grew from the unique history of Jodhpur with its royal heritage, Rajputana culture and love of horsemanship. He reflects: “My 25-year celebration is really a celebration of my clients, so we’ve taken some heritage products out of the Mehrangarh Fort Museum and made them into more contemporary wearable pieces… My greatgrandfather used to wear a special pair of breeches, but they were made in brocade, and were itchy, so we made them in cotton instead.”
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