While walking down the streets of New York, we met a very interesting person who was posing for her friend. After a couple of shots were done, we out of curiosity went and asked her if she is a blogger by any chance? She was surprised and asked us how we guessed it. We introduced ourselves and she said ‘I am an experimental Fashion blogger who loves to create tiny stories through fashion and pictures. Normal is too boring. Always looking for super creativity on the street and I try to incorporate the same in my own style. I really don’t care for normalcy‘. Interesting, ain’t she? We decided to interview her then and there. Presenting to you an interview with Prutha Raithatha, an amazing fashion blogger. Get inspired.
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging in January 2010 because I needed a way to express myself creatively without any boundaries.
Q: What topics do you generally blog about?
A: My personal style which is extremely experimental and highly editorial, street style that I spot on the streets of NYC, fashion events and shows I attend, art projects I do and some general fashion related stuff I write for some other websites.
Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?
A: I normally don’t. I don’t know why. I guess, I always have something to say.
Q: Architect, Fashion Writer and Photographer – you shift between such diverse roles! You studied Architecture in India, as well as in Pittsburgh. Tell us more about it. Tell us about your education in the US and how did you start your Fashion journey simultaneously? Currently, how do you manage to follow your passion as well your profession?
A: I did my B. Architecture from Mumbai University and then applied to do a M.S in Sustainable Design from Carnegie Mellon University in the US. During my under-graduation in Mumbai, I used to choreograph and produce fashion shows for our annual college festival and would always make it like a whole Broadway production with set design, props, weird concepts, lighting, designing all the clothes and getting them stitched by the cheapest tailors in town because we would have a budget of like Rs. 5000 total, the whole works. We always won any intercollegiate competition we participated in by leaps. I remember having the judges of the competitions come backstage looking for the person who made the show happen and congratulate me telling me how much they loved it. I still didn’t think fashion as a career back then. I was just having fun.
My Masters was nothing creative. It was all about energy simulation, green design, saving the world; one plant at a time. Mostly engineering. CMU is a great school. But nothing fashionable evolved out of Pittsburgh.
Then I moved to NYC after graduating from CMU. I have been working here as an architect for the past seven years now. It is my full time profession and job. Once I get home after work, is when I start working on my blog. Most shoots happen on weekends. But I am processing images, writing, posting, thinking and planning the next shoot, gathering props, outfits, scheduling photographers, locations, etc. throughout the week. After blogging for over two years it has become much easier and faster. And I also never want to compromise on my social life (which is quite active) and time to work on non-fashion related activities/ projects, so I do that on evenings I am not blogging.
I barely sleep. I guess that’s how I get all of this done. Oh! did I mention that I spend almost three hours everyday in total travelling by public transportation after a regular eight hr work day? Where is my bed??
Q: ‘Experimental’ is what you describe your style as. Share some more guiding thoughts on this. Did you discover this style, even when you had not initialized steps towards fashion and blogging?
A: Experiments should not have any guidelines, or you won’t discover anything new. I think, I have evolved a lot during the course of my blog.
My style before the blog was relatively experimental for the then fashion phase of my life. Now they seem too insignificant and amateur. Even now with each shoot, I feel like I am evolving my style and what I wore last year was a lot safer.
I have only one rule about everything in life, “Never say Never”.
Q: Sticking out parse, in fashion or otherwise, requires a very strong personality and a lot of guts – you recently said this. You expressed how sticking out makes it difficult for those people to fit in, as they are not taken seriously. Can you tell us what kind of reactions have you received for the way you choose to style yourself?
A: Very Varied. If you are a real person living in a real [non-fashion] world, it is hard when you stick out visually. I work in a semi-corporate environment and it gets difficult for people to take me seriously when I come to work with red hair [for eg]. It’s just the way people of the world are trained to think: If someone doesn’t look like them, they must be crazy. They don’t think that this person is just expressing their creativity or their likes and dislikes. Promotions get tougher, your work gets sidelined and unless you get really aggressive with your work and outperform every single person around you and yourself and become the best in your office, you will get left behind. I have now finally got my work colleagues get used to my eccentricities. It’s taken a slow two years of subjecting them to a little more of the crazy doze everyday for them to come to a stage where my coming to work with skulls and razor blade necklaces don’t bother them [that much]. I still don’t wear my bindi at work which I conveniently slip on as soon as I get off work.
Oh and try dating when you don’t look like a girly girl. Most men have such a cliched image of a girlfriend that they can never imagine someone who wears kaftans, bloomers or shirts completely buttoned up like a boy to take home to their mommies. Not all are like that of course, but 99% of them are. And for the remaining 1%, I think, I might have already dated them all.. lol.
Q: You say you haven’t really begun your architectural journey and also that you wish to start your own firm and design insane structures. How much does your personal style quotient reflect in your structural designs?
A: My architectural designs in college were like my style now: very out there. I always scared the living daylights out of my advisers with my concepts. I once put a four headed face sculpture made out of titanium ten storeys tall on top of a pink and glass building I designed for Bandra Kurla complex. My final thesis project was a Sex center and my advisor spent the whole year trying to convince me to change the topic which I didn’t. I had such a good time being an architect [in my mind] in college.
Currently I don’t do anything nearly as fun. I feel like I can be a lot more creative than I am allowed to be in a practical job that I can’t afford to lose due to worldly boring responsibilities like rent and immigration. When and if I do have my own studio, you will see the magic that comes out of it. It really will be extreme and beautiful. I can’t wait.
Q: ‘Don’t Shoe Me’ brings out your gutsy unique style and also your fashion findings from the NYC streets. Describe the people, the style and the attitude of people that you come across while discovering street style. Are any of them hesitant to get clicked and to be showcased on your blog?
A: New York is a beautiful place. In it exists all sorts of people from all over the world [maybe even the universe. I suspect some of them are definitely aliens that coexist amongst us]. Everyone is encouraged to express their individuality and feel at home, so they do. I like to find the most expressive way of these people. Yes, you always have some people who are shy and don’t want their picture taken, but mostly New Yorkers are pretty flamboyant and love to strike a pose.
Q: May the Gods be with you. Period. – This post is a commendable work! Kudos to you for the thought and projection! Does every picture and style of yours project an idea, story or a message? What inspires your style?
A: Thank you. That post was definitely something else. My photographer Alison Wynn and I were shooting for almost five hours on that story. During the course of the shoot we lost track of time and, everything and everyone else around us. By the end of the shoot, we were both physically shaking and didn’t know why, and we couldn’t talk. It was a subject I felt really strongly about and I think being an artist and a close friend herself, Alison just got into the emotions of it too. It was the excitement of creating art and the absolute revengeful aggression towards the topic, both mixed in one. I can’t explain the emotions behind this experience in words. It was intense.
I try to have a strong concept for each shoot. It may not be a social message every time, but it could be a story based on type of photography, an emotional state, a fun idea or location, the weather, bubbles, anything at all. It totally depends. I am not always successful in making a story happen, but 90% of the times the pictures make one.
Q: Who are your favourite Indian designers? Which designers do you feel are closely similar to your experimental fashion style?
A: Manish Arora is my favourite designer of all times. I am dying to have a conversation with him in real life. Others I like a lot are Kallol Dutta, Falguni and Shane Peacock, Sabyasachi Mukherjee.
Q: Five Fashion things (except your trademark Bindi :)) that you can’t stay without and how often do you incorporate it? How much Indian-ness do you think is involved in your fashion?
A: I don’t really have any things I can’t live without. I am emotionally attached to my bindi for now. That’s it.
I do incorporate quite a bit of Indian clothing or accessories in my outfits from time to time, but my style is all about contradictions and anomalies. So, I will wear a saree with a big McQueen skull ring or a leather studded biker jacket and a top hat. Recently I wore an Indian Rajasthani patchwork skirt with a Jesus Christ tee and a big cross bindi. It’s almost experimenting to find a new religion or culture of uncharted combinations that may or may not work, but its fun to try. I rather try and fail than not try at all.
Boredom is my biggest fear and I have to constantly keep on evolving of the fear of killing myself of boredom and stagnation.
Q: Explain to us about your blog address; why ‘Don’t Shoe Me’? How would you describe your blog? Would you also opt to become a shoe designer if given a chance? What other interests do you follow?
A: I really can’t recall how and why I came up with this name. All I can remember is that I loved shoes when I started the blog and I thought this sounded funny.
I would describe my blog as experimental and personal. I would LOVE to be a shoe designer.
Other interests include film, art, travel and tying shoe laces. Someday I wish to customize a job for myself that would include all of this plus fashion. Anyone want to offer me a job profile like this?
Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?
A: I use my blog’s Facebook page and Twitter to put my thoughts and blog information out there. Not much besides that.
Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?
A: No, I don’t really respond to any of the comments unless I really want to say something in response to a particular one. But I do know most of my readers who comment regularly. And I always remember them and say ‘hi’ once in a while because I know they are cool.
Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?
A: I had two girls who emailed me saying they used my “May the Gods be with you” post as part of their class presentation at their college and as their thesis research reference respectively. This maybe a tiny step, but I feel like I am helping to make a difference in the universe and it’s through my blog. It can’t get any more gratifying than this. There have been 2-3 other similar art projects on the blog that have had very strong reader reactions too.
Other than that, self discovery is the most I get out of this blog and I love it!
Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.
A: I think Indian blogs are doing great and some of them are of very good quality and content. Republic of Chic, Fashion Bombay, The Devil Wore, Highheelconfidential , Mumbai Paused [even though it’s not a fashion blog, it is my favourite Indian blog. It is seriously brilliant!]. I am not entirely in sync with all the other Indian blogs out there.
Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?
- Take copyright very seriously. Source your images. Yes, all of them. Do not assume people know the images are from the Sartorialist.
- Try not to use or promote fake products or designer stuff.
- You don’t owe anyone on this planet any explanation as to why you did not blog for two weeks. So, don’t write a three page explanation on why you were MIA. It makes you sound narcissistic to think that anyone cares to know where you are all the time.
- Never be afraid to stand for your principles. If a magazine forgot to credit your picture to your photographer like you asked, ask them to make the edit in the next issue. It is your responsibility to look out for your team and their professionalism. Don’t let anyone take you for a ride just because you are afraid to annoy a big magazine. If you are reasonable in your request and approach them professionally, they will comply with your request
Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?
A: Yes. But very little. So far it has been through writing and I recently launched my first product, an iPhone Cover.
Q: According to you, what is the future of Blogging?
A: It may become a prequel to people’s passion careers replacing the aptitude test. Just putting your thoughts and work in writing; out there into the world gives you a huge sense of reality and your place in it.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favourites.
Colour: Rainbow Metallic.
Movie: I love movies. Hard to pick one.
TV Show: I don’t have cable.
Book: Calvin and Hobbes.
Time of Day: 1am.
Your Zodiac Sign: Virgo.
Prutha, May the Gods be with you on whatever you do. It was an amazing interview and loved the way you look at things. Friends, what do you think? Connect with Prutha and let her know.