Kothcheru by Madhu Janakiram is all things inclusive as it embraces the idea of people being who they want to be
Pioneering gender-fluid fashion
‘Who says only women can wear a saree? Men can wear it too, and carry it as gracefully as women, if not more,” believes city-based designer Madhu Janakiram. So strongly did she believe in this idea that it resulted in her founding India’s first gender-fluid fashion label!
Called Kothcheru, after her family name, the brand is all things inclusive as it embraces the idea of people who want to be what they want to be. On how she, who was in the corporate world for 13 years, decided to start Kothcheru, Madhu says, “Though I’ve never been a ‘celebrity fashion designer’, I always had a knack for fashion. I had wanted to be the best-dressed wherever I showed up, and I was! People noticed and slowly began to approach me for fashion advice. This eventually led to close relatives and friends asking me to design outfits for them.”
Madhu ideated Kothcheru through a brainstorming session. “I knew I had to do something in fashion. My heart also goes out to the pride community that has to fight for basic rights. That’s when I thought I could put my passion and perspective together for this profession of mine. I thought I’d start a label for just the pride community and then realised I didn’t need to do that. I’ll just have to start a label and make and sell designs for everybody, not just the ‘two’ genders the society divides us into,” shares Madhu.
A brief look at the Kothcheru page will show how skilled Madhu is at her work. She puts her heart and soul into the project. She says her label is unique in that she doesn’t view people who come to shop from her as “customers.” She views them as acquaintances, who could seek her help. “People just walk in and can tell me exactly what they want — in line with the occasion, the guest list, and the ambiance and theme. I’ll design the outfits accordingly.”
Madhu not only designs her clients’ clothes, she styles them too, so you’re not on your own, breaking your head, trying to figure out what footwear or accessory or jewellery would go with the outfit. On a concluding note, Madhu tells us that she never repeats her designs. “There’s only one exclusive piece made only for you, so you feel unique and loved.”
Madhu, who will be having people from the LGBTQIA+ community walk the ramp in her designs on November 28, hopes to open a store soon.