Passion and enthusiasm for the craft of fashion design is most obvious about Shruti Kirti, a dynamic, apparel and accessory designer-in-residence in Chicago’s Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street. Like her colleagues, she spends her time these days working to sharpen her entrepreneurial skills and develop a global fashion enterprise. Shruti’s designs are sleek and inviting with bold architectural elements. She possess a delightful demeanor which is charming and deeply intoxicating. She sat down with us yesterday for a chat about her process and inspiration.
Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?
Shruti: That's a great question! Technically the first steps into the fashion world were getting accepted to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Fashion Department. Before that I had no fashion design or garment construction experience. Being immersed in the department was a major learning experience.
Q: Can you share a bit more about your education?
Shruti: Like I mentioned, I went to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The education I received from the Fashion Department was intense! It's a very fast paced environment, and there is such much to absorb. However the level of creativity expected from you really pushes your limits - it's great!
Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?
Shruti: During college, and even after graduating, I did a lot of interning with local fashion designers in Chicago. That experience was so valuable because I got to see the nuts and bolts of being an independent designer.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?
Shruti: I'd love to talk about what I'm working on! Currently my Fall/Winter 2016 collection is in production. This is my first collection as a Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer in Residence. The collection is rich with warm tones, and lots of geometric style lines. I'm also developing my Spring/Summer 2017 collection. The sensibility with this group is much lighter in terms of color.
Q: Where do you find inspiration? for this current collection as well as past collections?
Shruti: I know a lot of people say this, but I find inspiration everywhere! My bread and butter comes from Rajasthan, India, where I was born. Rajasthan being largely desert and ancient palaces, lends itself to so many avenues of content. Everything from the intense colors, to the style lines of the sand dunes, to the people who live there are all very inspirational. Additionally I have a natural gravitation towards modern architecture, clean lines, and simple shapes. The combination of those two anchors have given me lots of imagery.
Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?
Shruti: I think anything you are passionate about drives you. For me garment design is my passion, and that's what propels me to continue creating collections. I also learn a phenomenal amount about so many different facets with each season - what types of fabrications are out there to create a garment, what's the best way to pattern a specific silhouette, which companies will be a successful partnership to collaborate with to create my product, the list goes on!
Q: Is your design style influenced by any designers? If so, who and why?
Shruti: There are so many amazing designers and companies in the fashion industry to draw influence from. Aesthetically I'm a major fan of Jil Sander, Narciso Rodriguez, and Roksanda to name a few. All three companies have very inspiring designs that encompass interesting garment construction.
Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?
Shruti: I believe how we dress is a very simple and straightforward way to represent who we are, what our mood is, and what we want to say. Personally, I'm a more introverted, I do a lot of listening and seeing, instead of talking. Fashion is a way for me to connect with other people without having to verbally explain myself.
Q: Why do you design in Chicago?
Shruti: Hahaha! I really like this question! I grew up in Chicago, I went to college in Chicago, it's my home! Furthermore the people here are very supportive, encouraging, and genuinely interested in what I'm designing. Also the market is not over saturated like in other parts of the country so the chances of "existing" are more favorable.
Q: What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?
Shruti: Yes, there's a lot, hahaha! The two major things for me are resources - so everything from fabric shows, to production capabilities, and secondly exposure.
Q: Who are you designing for? Who are you passionate about?
Shruti: I design women's career wear with an emphasis on functionality. I use fabric that is wrinkle resistant, travels well, and has a good amount of stretch that moves with the body. I'm very fortunate to know many dynamic women who juggle their careers outside the home and family life. I want to create a garment that helps her get through the day.
Q: What are your hopes or goals for the future of your brand?
Shruti: That's a big question! As an entrepreneur I want to successfully execute my idea. As a clothing designer, a major goal is to create a garment that I am very proud of, but also women are very proud to wear.
Q: Any advice for the student to design?
Shruti: Yes, be curious!