The actor who wants to build a fashion empire with hand-painted clothes

Urmila and Sagarika Ghatge launched their label Akutee in December 2023
Urmila and Sagarika Ghatge launched their label Akutee in December 2023


Actor Sagarika Ghatge aims to expand her label Akutee that celebrates the classic way of dressing

Actor Sagarika Ghatge is on a mission: to create garments that don't follow any trends, and celebrate the art of hand-painting. 

That's why she, along with her mother Urmila, set up the fashion label Akutee in December, becoming part of the growing group of individuals who belong to erstwhile royal families and are preserving their sartorial history and heritage by starting design- and fashion-led start-ups. Ghatge belongs to the former royal family of Kagal in Maharashtra, and is also a descendent of Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar III of Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

The Akutee offerings include saris, co-ord sets, blazers, dupattas and salwar sets, all handpainted with nature-related motifs—inspired by Urmila’s hobby of painting flowers that she’d grown in her gardens in Kolhapur.

Also read: 'Gen Z knows what it wants to wear. Many Indian designers don't'


“Akutee (Marathi for 'princess') is a step back in time. The brand’s ethos comes from my childhood years of growing up in a (royal) environment and being surrounded by beauty around me: the women of my family," says Sagarika, who was recently in Bengaluru with her mother, and husband, cricketer Zaheer Khan, to showcase the label’s repertoire at the Four Seasons Festive Showcase.

What was the inspiration behind the brand? Sagarika says early introduction to classic, timeless fashion.

“I attribute everything you see here to how they dressed up and what I remember of it," she says. “These are not clothes that are trending, so when I see people appreciating them and buying them , it gives me hope that we can do a lot more."


Artwork on 'Janki', a green Banarasi tissue and silk linen co-ord top
View Full Image
Artwork on 'Janki', a green Banarasi tissue and silk linen co-ord top

“We are living in a time where there’s a supply of everything," Sagarika says, before pointing out that the big plus of opting for niche labels that make limited products is that every piece created is unique. “You may like a particular design and ask me to paint it for you, and then somebody else may ask me to paint the same design as well. What sets handmade work apart is that each piece made will have distinctions. Not every stroke of the painting made by hand will be the same, and so you know that what you own is one of its kind" she explains.

Prod her if her label prescribes to the slow fashion ideal and she concurs. “(Akutee) is completely slow fashion," she claims. "Given the nature of work involved, I won’t be able to produce things fast even if I wanted to."

Ask her to describe her ideal buyer and Ghatge says it's people who appreciate quality. “My fabrics, Chanderi cotton, Banarasi tissue silk, are handwoven and the paintings are all made by hand."

When it comes to zeroing in on the artwork for the clothes, Sagarika says it's her mother's department. “When it comes to choosing the colour and the rest of the elements, we both sit together to decide. And all the decisions are determined by the brand’s aesthetic of being classic and elegant," Sagarika says. 

They have a small team of artists working with them in Mumbai. “Not everything can be painted by my mother alone, so we have a handful of artists working with her. We are in the process of building the team and my mother is mentoring a couple of them closely," says Sagarika, who's planning to launch a homeware line soon. 

"It will have everything, crockery, cushion covers, curtains—all, of course, will be hand-painted."

Also read: Why is menswear so boring on the red carpet?



Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.