'It is a slow, understated, quiet luxury,' Sagarika Ghatge opens up about her latest fashion venture, Akutee

Akutee's preview was hosted at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai' Modernist
Sagarika Ghatge launches her fashion brand Akutee
Sagarika Ghatge launches her fashion brand Akutee

We all know Sagarika Ghatge as a national hockey player, an actor in Shahrukh Khan-starrer Chak De! India and cricketer Zaheer Khan's wife. But there's so much more to this personality than she lets on. Now, adding another feat to her long list of achievements, Sagarika has entered the fashion industry, much like a lot of celebrities in recent times, with her bespoke brand Akutee. 

Founded by Urmila and Sagarika Ghatge, a mother-daughter duo, the brand represents a return to a bygone era of rich history, artistry, and refined taste. Akutee draws inspiration from the elegance and grace of the women in the Ghatge family, while also staying true to its Indian roots and preserving the essence of the country's cultural heritage.

We got a chance to talk to Sagarika about her latest venture and more. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation: 

<em>Urmila Ghatge and Sagarika Ghatge in Akutee saris</em>
Urmila Ghatge and Sagarika Ghatge in Akutee saris

Tell us more about your latest venture — Akutee. 

Akutee is a brand of bespoke, hand-painted apparel created by my mother Urmila Ghatge and me. It is a celebration of a bygone era, a step back in time to a period of rich history, artistic talent, and impeccable taste. It is inspired by the simplicity and poise of the women of the Ghatge family that I grew up around.   As a child, I distinctly remember always being surrounded by such elegant women in my family. I was in awe of their poise and grace. The way they draped their chanderis, chiffons, tissues and brocades at family gatherings or events. The simplicity of the jewellery they chose to wear — a string of pearls, glass bangles, few diamonds — nothing terribly loud or flashy, just understated yet gorgeous. Unknowingly I think Akutee started for me when I was very very young but today is when it is finally out for the world to see. 

After sports, movies and reality TV, what made you step into the fashion industry?

I have seen my mother paint since I can remember and so Akutee is a gift from a daughter to her mother. She has been painting these lovely florals since she was 16, that were inspired by her garden... she’d often paint them onto her sarees and they looked beautiful and people loved it. So, it was quite natural for us to take this forward, it was only about figuring out when we wanted to do this because we’ve been wearing pieces of art that she has created through art on my frocks and later sarees, forever! So Akutee is an ode to my family history, to all the women of my family who I’ve grown up watching.

<em>Akutee designs</em>
Akutee designs

The brand is inspired by the royal Kolhapuri heritage. What is it about Kolhapur that you love the most?

Kolhapur for me, is my roots. Everything I am today is because of Kolhapur – my values, heritage, upbringing and how I carry myself. It was natural for the brand to have all these elements in it. It is the city I have grown up in and its culture – that has taught me everything that makes me who I am today. Naturally, that plays a very important part in how I look at life.

A lot of celebrities are trying out their hands in the beauty and fashion sector right now. It's almost a trend. Do you think Akutee would survive the competition out there and still stand upright once the trend is over?

Yes, I agree that a lot of people are doing things in fashion and beauty. But for me, Akutee is timeless. It is about going back to the past and creating something for the women of today. Akutee is a slow, understated, quiet luxury. It is not a push brand, but a pull brand. Someone wanting Akutee has to buy it with the intention that it is a treasure to be passed on. Today everything in Akutee has been passed down from generation — whether it is the art of hand embroidery, hand painting, or handwoven fabric, every piece of Akutee is handcrafted based on heritage artisanal techniques. It is timeless; so, the buyer of Akutee needs to look at it as a piece of art meant to be treasured and passed down in the family. 

Talking about competition, do you feel the same competitive self in fashion as you are in the hockey field? What's the biggest challenge in both? 

Competition is something that everyone should look at in the most open manner. It’s very important to take that next step, be it the winning goal in hockey or pushing your brand to new heights. The crux of any brand being able to grow is good teamwork and we’re glad that Akutee has a very good one that has envisioned great heights for the brand to achieve. If you have the right team with similar values and vision for the brand, you can certainly achieve more.

<em>Sagarika Ghatge for Akutee</em>
Sagarika Ghatge for Akutee

People know you as a movie star from Chak De! India, as a national Hockey player and as the partner of Zaheer Khan, but not many of them know that you are related to the royal house of Kolhapur. How does it feel to maintain all these titles? 

I think it’s about having the right values. As Indians, we are all proud of our heritage regardless of where we’re from and I’m no different in that aspect. I’m just very proud of where I come from. 

Did Chak De! India change your life in any way? Do you miss being on the field and playing hockey?

I’ve been an athlete all my life. I studied in a boarding school growing up and played a lot of sports. So whenever I get a chance to play an outdoor sport even now, I’m always ready — be it paddle, tennis, or going for a swim, I just love being outdoors. It has been an integral part of shaping me as the person I am today and I will never let that go.

INR 8,500 onwards. Available online.

Related Stories

No stories found.