The Kurta Makes its Fast-Fashion Debut

UNIQLO’s kurta collection popularizes the ancient South Asian garment, but also elicits mixed reactions.

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Models dressed in kurtas from Rina Singh’s first kurta collection, which launched in India in October 2019. (UNIQLO)

Sneha Mehta


July 13, 2020

When New Delhi-based designer Rina Singh visited UNIQLO’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Ariake district in 2018 to discuss a possible collaboration with the Japanese retailer, the brand’s global head of research and development Yuki Katsuta was intrigued by what Singh was wearing.

“I was wearing a kurta from Eka [Singh’s women’s wear label] made of wool, silk, and cotton, styled with stockings and brogues,” said Singh. “Because it was neither a dress nor a tunic, [UNIQLO] wanted to understand what it was and how I’d styled it like that. So I started talking to them about the kurta and about how it is India’s unofficial everyday clothing, made up of separates. They thought this was very democratic.”