Ru by Rupal Is Designing A New Form of Fashion

The 22-year-old designer behind the brand talks her inspiration, Indian influences and the Spring ’21 collection in this exclusive V interview.

Where bold, elevated streetwear garments meet drastic, dynamic silhouettes and Indian-inspired prints, an inferno blazes—this is The Fire Within, the striking, electric Spring ‘21 collection of Ru by Rupal

At only 22 years old, Indian-American designer Rupal Banerjee has carved out a corner for herself in the fashion world. Relentlessly inspired and evocative, Ru by Rupal is a series of function reinforcing fashion, utility underwriting couture. 

Banerjee’s is a niche of youthful pleasure and sophisticated taste—a niche which the likes of Lil Nas X and Tana Mongeau have infiltrated—, seamlessly merging the aesthetics of on-trend street culture with the intricate craftsmanship of luxury wear, brought together by Rupal’s distinctive aesthetic teetering between casual and elevated, Western styles with an Indian influence.

Rupal wears Kali Maxi Dress (Ru by Rupal)

“I’ve been in fashion since I was 16, but I’ve been designing since I was seven, eight years old,” said Banerjee. “I’ve always loved these things, and I thought, okay, I need to be in fashion all the time.”

The marketing student turned designer has fashion in her blood, really—from watching What Not to Wear and Project Runway as a child to spending summers learning in the factory of her uncle, a fashion designer in India, the eventuality of Banerjee having a line of her own was seemingly inevitable—but the becoming of Ru by Rupal was a journey forged by Banerjee’s own motivation and determination.

“Womens’ empowerment is a big influence on my brand,” she said. “It’s very important to me. I learned from my mom to be very strong—I’m like, hard. I’ll be aggressive, but not in a mean way; I’m a go-getter, and for me, my motivation is seeing my success.”

With garments constructed of Banerjee’s visionary excellence and the core design foundations of Indian textiles, success, for Ru by Rupal, is inexorable, a destination on the path driven by modern aesthetics and luxury craftsmanship. 

The Fire Within is a bold, genre-defying collection of spring and summer essentials, crafted of loud colors, undeniably one-of-a-kind prints, detailed embellishments and a running undercurrent of evolutionary design. A fluid vocabulary of asymmetrical cuts, boxy, utilitarian silhouettes and sharp tailoring play alongside body-con fits and severe crops, giving motion and dimension to the codes of street style across a range of graphic motifs. 

“This collection is The Fire Within because I was finally showing people so much more of what I could bring to the table,” said Banerjee. 

Her first collection as a designer debuted when she was only 17: a series of tees with Indian-inspired embroidery, soon evolving into something cosmically dynamic and different, a new plane for boundless creativity entirely.

“The goal is to create aspects of Indian fashion into something super edgy,” she said. “No matter what, you’ll always find something edgy in my collections because I think that’s so eye-catching. To me, that’s just who I am as a person, I feel like that’s a way to express my aggression through edgy garments.” 

Eye-catching is the very least of what Ru by Rupal brings to the table. From laced corsets with open fronts to long-length acid-washed coats to a versatile, mesh maxi dress emblazoned with a graphic print of the Indian goddess Kali, the California-based label is building a new code of streetwear, one that doesn’t adhere to cut-and-paste trends but rather takes the contemporary and flips it on its head, reinterpreting classic cuts and shapes for modern innovation.

“I was raised in a Hindu household, and I always took inspiration from the power that these deities would strike amongst people,” said Banerjee of the Kali print motif, a chrome-like, glitchy visual. “There’s so much power involved in positive ways. The print itself was a representation of Kali, but with futurism.”

Everywhere in the collection are dynamic, restructured designs; no piece is monotonous or undeveloped, but rather made gripping and cohesive by intricate drapery, dramatic crops, bold fabrics and prints or distinctive silhouettes. 

Banerjee’s Indian heritage weaves its way through Ru by Rupal as much as her personal taste and penchant for upscale urban design do: the Kali print is featured in The Fire Within collection on a maxi dress, ruched skirt and long sleeve mesh top, while a cropped moto jacket is uniquely tailored with a sari draping style, and artisan batik fabric is interwoven on a pair of skate pants and a bikini top. 

“Any person of color is always facing racism in America,” said Banerjee. “But we as Indians have created so many forms of fashion, so many different styles of print, so many styles of draping. I really wanted to represent my culture in this collection. I want to represent the fire within—what lights me up? What sets me off, and what do I want to represent out here? What do I want to change in this world?” 

One thing remains certain: Rupal Banerjee is changing the fashion game, with Ru by Rupal holding the reins to a new wave of empowered streetwear. 

View The Fire Within collection and shop Ru by Rupal here.


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