Spotlight On: Arati Rao of Tantuvi | SUITCASE Magazine
Words by: Robin Reetz

Tantuvi first caught our eye because of its style – the four-year-old line expertly mixes simple silhouettes and classic shapes with unexpected pattern and colour combinations. When we looked a little deeper and discovered that Tantuvi was created after designer Arati Rao spent a year connecting with her ancestral roots in India, we were that much more intrigued.

Now on its fifth collection, Brooklyn-based Tantuvi continues to work exclusively with Ikat weavers in South India. Arati gave us a breakdown of her inspiration behind the line, and the importance of working in the international community. 

Spotlight On: Arati Rao of Tantuvi  | SUITCASE Magazine

I BECAME A DESIGNER BECAUSE: After working in the fashion industry for years and feeling disconnected with the whole process, I knew I needed to set out on my own and make some changes

WHAT INSPIRES ME: Travelling, but also the hard working, creative people I am surrounded by

I NAMED MY LINE AFTER: Tantuvi means ‘weaver’ in Sanskrit, and all the fabric we use is hand-woven by master weavers

WORKING WITH IKAT WEAVERS IN SOUTH INDIA IS IMPORTANT TO ME BECAUSE: Supporting this art form is tremendously important to Indian heritage and culture as it could easily be lost. It also keeps me connected to my Indian roots.

MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT WORKING IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS: Travelling, of course, and being inspired by many cultures and people

I GO TO SOUTH INDIA: Every six months or so. Up until recently, I’ve gone yearly.

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT VISITING INDIA: It’s so stimulating and there are certain things that are always there even though it’s a country that changes so quickly. Its a different way of life from where I live in Brooklyn, in a good way.

ONE THING THAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT TANTUVI: How hands-on we are in the whole process from initial concept to final garment. We know who weaves what fabric, and the whole team is involved in the process from spinning the thread to final roll of fabric.

FAVOURITE PLACE TO TRAVEL: I want to say India but that’s obvious. I just got back from Turkey and that was incredible – I can not wait to return.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR TANTUVI: A couple of interesting collaborations are in the works for later this year, which I’m very excited about.

THE ONE THING THAT’S ALWAYS IN MY SUITCASE: Assorted lip balm and moisturisers

Spotlight On: Arati Rao of Tantuvi  | SUITCASE Magazine
Spotlight On: Arati Rao of Tantuvi  | SUITCASE Magazine
Spotlight On: Arati Rao of Tantuvi  | SUITCASE Magazine

Intro and interview by Robin Reetz, @reetzrobin

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