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Student marries global, apparel interests through internship with Indian bridal wear

robin Rittel
From left: Rittel's director, Naveen, fellow students Mirani and Sara, then Rittel.

Robin Rittel, a senior apparel merchandising major, studied abroad in India this summer to try her hand with Indian bridal wear.

“I wanted to marry apparel merchandising and my interests in global studies,” she said.

The Huron native got help from Council on International Educational Exchange to complete an internship with Kalki Fashion in Mumbai.

“They [CIEE] kind of placed me out of left field; it was fun,” Rittel said.

She said although she was the only student from SDSU, she went there with two other Americans.

“In my hostel, there were other Americans, so we weren’t alone,” she said.

She said American weddings are very different from Indian weddings in terms of fashion. For traditional Indian weddings, as many as five outfits are required for the dayslong celebrations. Brides usually wear red throughout, with the bridal party wearing any color. Sahrees and lehengas, a two-piece crop top with a full A-line skirt, are two of the most popular items worn by women for Indian weddings.

Indian Bridal wear
A few pieces of Indian bridal wear featured on the boutique floor at Kalki Fashion in Mumbai, India.

On her first day at work, she got to try her hand at designing some bridal wear. She chose from a large swatch book, picked out a purple satin, and designed a jumpsuit. She later designed a lehenga, with a blue top, yellow bottom and gold flower metal thread embroidery that made it to the boutique floor.

Not only did Rittel work in design, but she also tried her hand at marketing, sales and customer relations. After graduation, she hopes to work for an eco-responsible apparel company.

Being in a new type of fashion industry, let alone a new country, Rittel learned how important patience can be.

“You have to give yourself time to be patient with yourself,” she said. “With traveling internationally in general, you have to have a lot of patience with yourself and realize that you have to give yourself time to adjust, figure things out and how to work with people in a new environment and how to navigate a new area.”