The name Sita, pronounced see-tah, is of Hindu origin and the name is borne by the goddess of agriculture and the harvest, who is seen as an incarnation of the goddess Lak-shmi. Sita was married to Rama after he bent the great bow of Shiva, but was abducted by the evil king Ravana and taken to his island kingdom. She was rescued by Rama, but because the public doubted her virtue, she sacrificed herself by fire to prove her purity.
Sita Thompson, founder and designer of SITA Couture, grew up with an organic farmer for a father and an artist for a mother, influencing her line to be both environmentally sustainable and beautiful at the same time. Learning to sew at age 11, Sita was destined for creative greatness. At the young age of 17, she moved to Europe to start her quest and it was then she realized that she would one day own her own clothing line.
Her line, SITA Couture, empowers women with every cut and style. The clothes are designed to inspire confidence, enhance natural beauty, fuel the feminine essence and reflect the authenticity of a woman’s full expression. Each piece is versatile, allowing customers to go from day to night, from work to play, from casual to dressy, just with a switch of accessories. Join as we sit down with Sita Thompson, designer, entrepreneur, and also a sought after guest lecturer at Fashion Schools around the globe.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself…where are you from, what influences your style, and what got you into fashion?
I’ve been into fashion forever. I was a little girl in love with dresses and pretty, and obsessed watching my mom sew me and my brother and sister outfits. My dad being a farmer and totally not interested in these things, required me to be resourceful. Both mom, step-mom and grandma were artists and seamstresses, so having them in my life was key to developing the skill of hand creating my ideas. I never considered it a big deal. It was just natural for most of the women in my life to know how to make their own clothes. It didn’t seem like some artistic expression, rather just practical.
It was a family friend, Irene Dill , couture designer out of Switzerland, who was hands down, the largest “designer” inspiration in my life. I had the great fortune of her visiting our home many times during my early teens. She took the practicality of a garment to a whole new level and made it special. I was in awe with this gracious woman who could create styles that would make me feel special when I wore them. To this day I have pieces from her collections that she gifted me.
I interned with her in Switzerland my first year after high school. What sticks with me more than working with her in her gorgeous boutique and exquisite foyer, was the way she connected with women via her exceptional taste, amazing fits and fantastic personality. She was addicting.
Irene’s fabrics and inspiration stemmed from the orient… sometime subtly, sometime boldly, but always her root and motivation.
Having such a “great” as my first designer experience was nothing short of a blessing.
Through college and after, more as an artistic expression, I started to do a little interior design as a professional hobby. I felt like I was using my sewing skills and good eye to help create a nicer more expressive place for my clients to live. But I was far from ready to start my own brand.
I moved to India to work in Bollywood as a dancer and brand ambassador to multi-nationals. It was there I fell in the love with the sari and started my first collections. These 1st collections were basically just for me to wear and gifts for friends. I was in the public eye frequently, and started getting recognized from the work I was doing with the sari and even my home, that I’d done the interiors on. Living in India gave me great exposure to mind blowing gorgeous textiles, great pattern masters, and fantastic embroidery that I created award-winning styles from. I would wear my pieces at functions and events I would host. I received press, exposure and awards, this is how the journey began.
Q: What lead you to want to start your own line?
I have to say it was the people who I created for… Whether is was interiors or dresses, they always wanted more. It started to seem like my insights, views, my all of me was starting to be in all the work I did. And it was work that the people I was working for, loved. Whether it was the dress I designed for the launch of a company I was the brand ambassador for, or it was the wedding dress I made for my friend, … I started to realize my ideas were starting to metamorphasize into something of value. It started to feel like the line was leading me to start it, I was just following.
Q: What is the style and essence behind SITA Couture?
Ease, wholeness, comfort, versatility, green, sexy, subtle but well articulated. We go from day to eve, Holiday and resort. Many of our pieces can actually transition from day to eve with a flip of a shoe and tweak of a belt. We’re a genuine life style brand.
Q: How important were your experiences in India in molding your line?
You know how they say, “mother India”? India was like a mother pushing her girl to continue to expand… Constantly creating amazing opportunitiess for me, supporting me when I’d fall, and always bringing the best people into my life.
Q: Why did you choose to use your name on your line?
My mom’s guru Baba Ram Das named me when I was a baby. My sister was named Shanti by Yogi Bajan. Sita means Goddess of Virtue and Womanhood, she’s God’s wife in the Hindu religion and chanted like 20,000 times a day in India and throughout the world. Shanti means peace. Living in India with an Indian first name like Sita, and an English last name like Thompson, was quite an experience in itself. Most Indians stop in their track when they hear my name.
With all the mojo and history behind the name Sita, and what she stands for, it was a natural transition to incorporate it into the brand. I use full capitals when referring to the brand SITA and lowercase when referring to my name.
Q: Describe the women who wears SITA Couture?
We honestly have the most eclectic range of women who buy us, and all age ranges, but I’d have to say the common denominator I see thru most of our clients is women who like their style to speak for them before they open their mouth. We have many public speakers, celebs, professional women who want to be comfortable and sexy, while also understated. I’d say hot mom is also definitely us. A mom is more conscious of the brands she buys, how and where they were produced and the company culture behind the brand. Hot moms are busy, on the go and have a million things to take care of, as well as the kids. They refuse to look frumpy and want styles that can have many functions in one. They don’t have time to change four times in a day to have looks that work for them.
Q: Is there a certain piece of yours that is your personal favorite?
That’s not fair! I can definitely say that there are a handful of key pieces that myself and pretty much all of my clients, have in every color and wear every week. If I was forced to name favorites, I’d have to be given the right to chose one from each collection/season/theme and/or mood. And I’m sure that would change again and again.
Q: We’re hearing rumors of a brick and mortar launch. Is this true and what other new things can we expect from you?
That’s so funny A few great ideas talked about here and there have now turned into rumors. – I love it! Lets say there are talks and gorgeous ideas getting placed on mind maps! But what’s real and soon in the flesh, lets call it a prelude to our brick and mortar, is our Venice pop-up. This will be in conjunction with our web-launch and a delicious fashion show. More on that soon!
Q: Describe your long-term vision for SITA Couture?
Long term, post systems being in place, an incredibly fruitful on and off-line business, a brand that’s recognized globally for the timeless styles and effortless sensual fits.. .. Beyond that I want SITA Couture to continue to be a brand that gives back at every step, and never stops inspiring and evolving.
Q: What would you tell anyone who wanted to break into the field?
Intern. Attend fashion seminars. Research. From lectures at The Mart, to awesome sources of information from places such as FAB Counsel, to the wealth of knowledge out there provided by people who have done it. Be a sponge of knowledge. I also think it’s important to be closely in touch with the values that are important to us in the process. What’s important to us personally, are the factors that shape our business. The more we know ourselves, the better we’ll know who we should be working with. At the end of the day, you might be the one who births the idea, but its going to be the whole team who puts that idea on the map. Just as important as the idea, the brand and the vision, is the team.
Learning production in the factories in India, interning with Irene Dill in Switzerland, attending fashion symposiums, making one-off’s for people for free as I developed my fit… How would I ever know what worked without putting all that and tons more in?
There is plenty more of SITA Couture to come. Visit their website to get yourselves into some SITA Couture, as well as to stay up to date about the upcoming Venice Pop-Up.