In conversation with Ramya Hari Madhavan: Co-founder, Hydes Studio 

How do you feel about your work showcasing in one of the most prestigious global fashion events of the year? 

It is quite thrilling to think of. Our designs are the perfect combination of form and function and we always believed they would resonate with an international audience. The dream was, of course, to picture our bags in any of these fashion weeks. We just did not expect it to happen this quickly and at NYFW!

When Dhanya started Papreeka, it was an Instagram page and both of us were starting small. We shared similar ideologies and our friendship grew fast. Today, I am grateful to Papreeka for this opportunity and hope that this is our chance to expand into the global market. 

Tell us a little about Hydes Studio; how did you begin?

We are not a brand that ever rushed into anything or looked for overnight success. Before this, I worked as an HR in the corporate world. However, soon after my wedding, we moved to my hometown, Chennai, where I noticed a gap for artisan handbags that are also economical.

What made it easy was my partner Hari’s background. He’s a designer from Milan and has worked with luxury Italian brands. Together, we decided to address this gap with quality leather bags specially crafted for the Indian market. Slow and steady has always been our motto, with quality at the forefront and I believe this has really worked for us. 

In today’s outlook of sustainability and conscious brands, where do leather products & Hydes Studio fit in? 

Ah! This takes me back to my school days when I watched Dad run his business. Back then, ‘sustainable’ was not a trending word. His practice, even in those days, was highly ethical. He became my inspiration to be a conscious entrepreneur. 

To me, it is important that we are responsible for every step along the way. Hydes Studio is, I think, the only brand in India to source its leather from LGW certified factories. This process includes lesser chemicals, proper sewage, and ethical labour practices. Everything else is locally made in Tamil Nadu as much as possible, with eco-friendly packaging. 

Of course, bamboo and cork are great alternatives, but their demand is still on a slow incline. The common substitute in the market today is PU, which is mainly plastic. As a byproduct of the meat industry, leather remains a sustainable option in our current scenario. 

How was the curation for NYFW planned?

To us, fashion is meant to be a part of your everyday life and not just the ramp. All our bags are crafted for practical usage, along with the aesthetic appeal. In fact, we had planned our new launch for September 2021, and the opportunity at NYFW seemed like the perfect place to showcase this collection. So, we sent them our new designs, and they were approved! 

We currently have only one best-seller from the existing collection while the other three pieces are entirely new designs for a global audience. 

How did the pandemic affect Hydes Studio and your creative process?

The pandemic was hard. While the first lockdown was still fairly new, the second time was a scary situation for almost all homegrown brands. Our regular clients were understandably not in the right mind-frame to shop, and our main concern was taking care of our artisans. 

We used this time to invest our time, re-strategize our goals, make long-term plans and come up with the new collection that is to be showcased in the New York Fashion Week. But through it all, it was our artisans that mattered. We would not slash salaries the way a corporate might, and I think this made an impact on them as well. It brought us closer as a team, as a family.