Who.... why .... when... Ira Soleil -Origins. She was “Indira” to everyone else, but “Ira” to her friends in college, a name she lost after she got married, and no one ever called her by that name again. It was almost as if she meta-morphed into this other person once she became a wife and then mother (our mother). “Soleil” is French for sun... “Ira solel” is Ira's Radiance. Ira was a major tomboy! she wore shorts and cut her hair like her brothers when she was young, played football and ran track, won the 100mt state sprint, so was the fastest woman in the state in 1955!! She was (is) beautiful with huge doe eyes and translucent clear complexion. Extremely aggressive, outspoken and very independent, she embodied the modern woman of 2016 in 1958! She was kick-ass when kick-ass was not in vogue because that was who she actually was. She turns 76 this year and she is as feisty as they come! Try to cut a corner and she will, with the sweetest most disarming smile cut that corner, and us down to size in a split second :-)
Predictably, Ira spawned two more clones (sic), who started the brand Ira Soleil. We are two sisters, Simi and Sanjita, Perhaps “feisty” is the most euphemistic adjective received by us as yet.. “aggressive”, “hard-headed, unrelenting” are probably better fits. When we set up the business in 1991, these characteristics helped carve a niche in a completely male-dominated industry. Being physically small and lightweight and dressing fashionably made it even more difficult to be taken seriously. Being considered “butterflies” in a family of landlords and bureaucrats helped stiffen our spines and made us even more aggressive and adventurous. The apparel industry in the ’80s was an all boy’s blub and both of us had to push harder, work longer and yell louder to be heard. Simi says she was born 40 years too early, explaining that she was probably the most irritating woman, around. Continually questioning social and religious traditions, she was the “WHY” girl..” why should we only pray in a temple? why should we behave like ladies? Why should we touch his feet? It took some time but even the families we married into realized that we could be counted on to be caregivers and protectors at the same time... Our closest friends are now our children who are proud of our un-conforming ways because they know that love is universal and free of obligation.it is omnipresent and fluid over civilizations gender and class. Ira will be young forever!!!!
We launched Ira Soleil, with a single point agenda: To be able to make every woman, we dressed feel like a Diva!
Unapologetically sexy, modern, smart and so unique that she had to stand out no matter what the occasion. We had been manufacturing fashion apparel for exports to international brands since the past 23 years and had learned a trick or two. We know that even very skinny girls can have a tummy, or that large sized women might like to minimize busts.. and we knew how to design around issues like this. Ira Soleil was a natural progression of all these years of learning and in hindsight launched exactly at the most opportune timing. E-commerce was poised to take off, and the rag trade had just started to get corporate. We put up the first collection on Jabong in August 2012 and have not looked back since.
The plan was to take the major drawbacks from the existing market structure and turn them to advantages, these were fit, design, and price, and this pretty much sums up the entire process. The fit and look had to be modern, we have worn saris perhaps a dozen times in our lives and most of them have wardrobe malfunction stories attached to them, plus, we would not be caught dead in a regular Kurti!. Also, traditional ethnic wear is cut like tents, where the market is dominated by “Free size” products.
What the heck is “free size”?? ‘
Women ( thank god!) come in 200 shapes and sizes. To clump them all into one called “free size” meant that a petite 28” girl would wear an XXL meant to fit a 45” bust! How is this stylish? How can it even fall into the “fashion” category? Even hospital scrubs would be more flattering! So first we dismantled the “boutique” and deconstructed “Designer” wear. We decided to design the edgiest and fashion-forward silhouettes that would fit like a glove, be delectably stylish and make her feel like a million bucks. Most designers dress the higher income size zero woman. What made these look even more fantastic, was that the fit of the style was so customized, that it looked like it was painted on! We wanted that!!!. And we were greedy, “no fishing in the small pond”. We wanted to clothe everyone .. all sizes ..all shapes, whether Size 0, 1..2..3..4..5..6..or 7. WHATEVER! Besides a size zero woman would look good in a sack, the challenge was to make even the new mom feel sexy again. They all had to feel equally beautiful! Our target customer is a happy, modern, independent and adventurous gal. She is willing to take risks, does not either conform to any given norm or care to prove her inner strength to anybody. She is fiercely patriotic and knows right from wrong without ambiguity. She personifies “Ira”…. You can depend on “Ira".. always. In addition to the stretch fabrics and little tricks in styling, we decided to add two more sizes., so we have size XS right up to XXL. This covers practically 80% of all women in India. and no matter where she is “Ira” knows that when she wears Ira Soleil, it will fit like it was specially tailored for her, and she will be Aphrodite! Designer wear is snooty! Many hesitate to even enter the higher end boutiques. So we took the product and broke down every process and component and put together a collection that hardly ever crosses 2 k. “No woman left behind is the plan, and let’s face it .. in FB and Insta times.. how many of us can repeat special occasion wear? And given that we cannot, then why would we want to shell out 100’s of 1000’s for every occasion? The funda was that if the style costs X then the perceived value had to be 4X! So the value delivered is Wow! All this was quite risky, but then we were known to be adrenalin junkies! The only way to find out was to leap in feet first! Happy to report that we learned to swim and in style! ( pun intended) We are be-friending “Ira(s)” in every corner of the globe, from Raipur to Bangalore, too far-flung Chile, to downtown NYC. They had set out to buy "traditional" but they happily slipped into a slinky stretch tunic (not traditional), cut in edgy shapes and silhouettes(not traditional), yet they buy and flaunt and look like a million bucks every time!
All the Ira (s) out there are kickass women, fighting to be unique and extremely stylish. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons they keep coming back, demanding new and more innovative styles from us every day, every week…. We struggle to keep up, but we do! and so far have kept to our promise of "one new style for every day of the year" Are we fast fashion? I guess we are, we sprint fast and are nimble-footed, kill old styles never to be repeated again, sure we get copied, but that’s ok we are flattered to be imitated… we move on… faster and fitter.