Wendell Rodricks : Showcasing Goa and India to the world
Born in Mumbai of Goan parents in 1960 Wendell Rodricks studied Hotel Management and worked in the hospitality industry for six years before studying Fashion Designing in the USA and France from 1986 to 1988. He returned to India, and eventually his ancestral village in Goa, in 1993. Wendell's first collection from Goa earned him the title 'Guru of Minimalism' and his next collection in 1995 pioneered the concept of 'resort wear' and eco-friendly garments in India and eventually put Goa on the fashion map of the world.
A designer with an international presence Wendell has presented his unique garments, inspired by Goa and India, at major fashion events Rodricks has the honour of being the first Indian designer to be invited to show at World's largest garment fair IGEDO in Germany (1995), Dubai Fashion Week (2001), the prestigious Paris Pret-a-Porter salon (2007) and the worlds biggest organic fair BioFach in Nuremberg, Germany (2012). In 2007, the Confederation of Indian Industries invited the designer to showcase two fashion shows in Bryant Park, New York to celebrate the 60th year of India's Independence. Rodricks has also, shown at Festival of India (1993) in Beijing and Shanghai in China and show in Sri Lanka.
The first ever designer police uniform in India was designed gratis by Wendell in 1996 for the Goa State Police. Over the years he has designed uniforms for the staff of major international hotel chains and also for the Goa Tourism Development Corporation.
1999 marked the beginning of his philanthropy and activism for social, environmental and cultural causes when he donated an entire fashion collection and proceeds to the Kasturba Gandhi Trust to promote Khadi in Goa. In the same year Wendell curated the first ever promotion of Goan contemporary artists as a group in Mumbai. This event, named Fado, is acclaimed as having opened international doors to many Goan artists.
Wendell Rodricks was instrumental in planning the first ever Lakme India Fashion Week in 2000 and guiding it in an advisory capacity during its formative years. In 2000, 2003 and again in 2008 he was honoured as the ‘finale’ artist for the event. In 2002 Wendell was named Man of the Year, a prestigious honour from Goa Today magazine.
In 2001, Wendell Rodricks designed the Visionnaire collection, a worldwide pioneering collection to help the visually challenged read Braille on clothes. Since then Wendell Rodricks has designed clothing for differently abled and physically challenged persons from the hearing challenged to amputees.
In 2010 Wendell revived the weaving of the traditional Goan Kunbi Sari, a two year project involving identifying and training weavers in the use of sari looms. This unique Kunbi Sari, and other garments using the same weave, were showcased at Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week. Sari lovers like Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit and Pratibha Patil have bestowed praise on the designer for reviving a dying craft. Since 2008 the Eco Goa Room at Wendell Rodricks Design Space promotes garments using only natural dyes. These dyes are procured from tribals in the Western Ghats who used age-old techniques to make these dyes that do not harm the environment.
A research project of eleven years culminated in January of 2012 with the release of Moda Goa – History and Style published by Harper Collins. This book got rare reviews for its portrayal of long forgotten aspects of Goa’s cultural history in a Goa costume format. In August 2012 Wendell’s book of memoirs, The Green Room, was published. His experiences give one an insider’s view of the fashion industry. Rodricks has contributed chapters to many books on Goa and costume.
Wendell regularly writes for magazines like Apparel, Femina, Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, India Today, Outlook and Cine. He was also the design consultant for the coffee table books Goa : Sunaparanta and Goa : four decades of freedom as well as many MARG publications.
Wendell served on the Managing Committee of the Red Cross Society (India) and presently the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH-India) and the Museum of Christian Art. He is also the Chairman of Green Goa Works a non-profit organisation formed to work with the Goan public, civic infrastructure, industry and government to offer solutions and innovations for a greener cleaner Goa. Wendell is also on the Board of the Fashion Design Council of India, Whistling Woods International-Neeta Lulla School of Fashion, the Manipal University, Goa Government Polytechnic and Goa College of Home Science have had their courses and syllabus in Fashion benefit from the designers input. He is presently on the Steering Committee of the Goa Institute of Management.
Wendell plans to open the Goa Costume Institute, a prestigious institution, which will attract students and researchers of fashion from all over the world. All part of his plan to promote Goa and India at every opportunity.
In 2014, the designer was awarded the fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri by The President of India, Pranab Mukharjee for Art (Fashion Design).