Raiheth Rawla &Wei Hung Chen
Raiheth began by telling us that her mother was instrumental in introducing her to the world of Design. Upon struggling to open a sealed plastic packet, she was stopped and asked to observe the object. Her mother brought her attention to the fact that if someone had designed it to be sealed, they would have surely anticipated for it to be opened. That’s when she noticed the small slit on the side of the bag, where if pressure is applied in opposing directions, the bag can be opened with ease. She was amazed that an individual had the ability to foresee the functionality of the product. This is how she began to be more observant of objects and the manner in which they were used, how the look affected their experience and how the experience of using it affected the look of the product. That was the first time she became conscious of Design and its impact on people's lives.
Observing everyday objects led her to observe clothing. An essential part of our daily life, from the moment we are born, up until the day we die, clothing defines varying countries, cultures, social structures and individuals. Fashion has also instigated change in the world, for example, in the Womens Rights or LGBTQ movement, where the way in which individuals have chosen to dress has greatly impacted their cause and its progress. Being inspired by the the work of Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela and Issey Miyake’s, who create pieces that stand the test of time and are beyond any fashion trend, she chose to further pursue her interest at Parsons the New School of Design.
Raiheth was born in Kolkata, India, following which she lived in Singapore, Paris and New York. She has a BFA degree from Parsons the New School of Design in New York, with a focus in Fashion Design. She tells us that “Parsons gave me the exact educational experience I was yearning for. I met people from all walks of life, from various parts of the world. My classes were structured such as to give me a holistic understanding of Design with a balanced focus in my area of specialization, Fashion Design. I learnt everything from working in a woodshop and building a table to the details of War Cinema. The school, program and people pushed me out of my comfort zone and consistently challenged my notions and understanding of Design.” While at design school, she also worked with a few fashion houses including The Row, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Jonathan Cohen.
For her thesis project, she researched the third gender (Hijra) community in India. The research she conducted informed the collection identite, which is an exploration of the role that clothing plays in forming an individual's identity beyond the gender normative. Earlier this year, she was invited to speak at the TEDx Bangalore conference about the impact of gender in the world of fashion.
Following the completion of her degree, along with a fellow designer, Wei Hung Chen, she founded Khaore. A New York based luxury handbag label, Khaore bags are artistic interpretations of the everyday and mundane, offering an neoteric perspective on the object and its place in contemporary life.
Following graduation, Wei and Raiheth were eager to collaborate on a project together. They had both majored in fashion design with a focus in Womenswear and were interested in exploring accessories as they believed that there is a huge potential in creating leather goods that can be seen as both sculpture pieces and accessories. They are both very observant of their surroundings, and there are always certain objects that catches their attention, while others may ignore them. They are constantly discussing how these objects can be reimagined, perceived and possibly marvelled at, and these discussions lead to experimenting with silhouettes and materials, leading to the development of the distinctive shapes of our bags. Raiheth elaborates, “Khaore is a representation of our ideas, concepts and view on the world around us. The focus on the object is intended to bring into perspective its impact and importance in our daily lives. We aim to create bags that stand the test of time and weather with the individuals that own them.”
The name Khaore is a play on Raiheth’s mother’s maiden name, Kaur. Raiheth tells us, “We loved the sound of it, however wanted to make the visual seemingly ambiguous so we played with different letters and sound combinations.”
At Khaore, they intend to take their concept pieces (ie, the Leaf Bag) further and develop a lab that works solely on experimenting and developing the new materials for each seasons proposal. On a personal level, as a designer, Raiheth is working on continuing her research on clothing and its impact on cultures and social situations, with a focus on the third gender community in India.
TEXT Nidhi Verma